Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

“Whipsaw:  n 1. A narrow two person crosscut saw. v 1. To cut with a whipsaw, 2. To defeat in two ways at once” 

It was a lovely day today at The Havens.  Last week, after several days of pretty cold temperatures (sub zero at night), it snowed.  Then it warmed up enough to melt the thin layer of snow on the ground.  This was followed by some days around freezing accompanied by gusty winds.  Finally it warmed up and the wind blew like a wind tunnel testing a jet airplane.

This morning it dawned clear and cool and totally calm.  It would have been ideal to burn off the labyrinth right then, but we had a date at the kid’s house for home made waffles.   So we went over there (a matter of walking half a block) at the appointed time and thoroughly enjoyed our breakfast with the family.  It is really lovely to have our grandkids so close.  AND their parents…  I must not leave them out!

After our repast, we came home, got busy, and burned off the tall grass that had accumulated in the labyrinth over the last summer.  It was a perfect day for burning, and still hadn’t gotten so warm that tending the fire was onerous.  There have been times when it was sort of like an introduction to Hades, what with a warm day and a brisk breeze.  Today it was just damp enough that the grass burned well but not like an inferno.  No wind to speak of, so the flames crept their way through the paths and rocks desultorily.  We had to use the flame thrower a few times to encourage them to do a complete job.

There are lots of rags and tags of grass tops, as well as things like the stems of goldenrod, little white asters, and primroses spread in the paths.   They really need to be raked up but I decided to do something else instead.  If I leave them long enough they will blow away or compost in place, maybe.

After unhooking and draining the hoses we had deployed for fire safety reasons, we rolled them and coiled them back up on their supports.  Winter is not over yet and we have had enough of frozen pipes.

Speaking of frozen pipes, the contractor man has been here since Wednesday repairing the utility bathroom.  We picked out new floor tile for it, auditioning a style that we are considering using for the Great Bathroom Remodel, which is scheduled for a future date yet to be determined.   We LOVE the tile and lucky for us it was on sale so we bought the necessary quantity and have stashed it in the sauna dressing room.  The bathroom should become functional early next week.

Of course, there has been a daily (except for Thursday) pilgrimage to Springfield to visit the Ailing Mother.  She came through her popliteal bypass alive (barely).  There were a few rough days, and once the hospital figured out that she really needed a blood transfusion, she rallied enough to be moved to a rehabilitation hospital.  Since then she has walked as much as 70 feet during physical therapy and can get up out of her wheel chair and move to the bed “unassisted” (meaning two people stand nearby at the ready to make sure that she does not lose her balance and fall during the painstaking process).  But her appetite has returned, and her mind is once again active.  She has been working on her tatting project.  Aside from the open incision around the bypass site, she is looking fairly good.  There is still a lot of ground to cover, but we are no longer in fear of her life.

And my sister was released from the hospital today, after fighting infection from the cat bite she got while she was neutropenic from her latest chemotherapy for her leukemia.  Thank God for small favors.

With both people that were in so much danger moving towards safety, maybe I can actually get some sleep tonight.

Anyway, back to today.   Instead of raking the labyrinth, I cleared the old dry tops out of the asparagus bed.   While I was engaged in that chore, I noticed that the bees were out foraging.   Then I started wondering if they still had enough honey to keep them going through the rest of the winter.  (Despite the lovely day today, winter is FAR from over.) Presently my curiosity grew so much that I went into the house and prevailed on Jim to make a wellness check on the colony.  He suited up and opened the hive and we determined that they have LOTS of honey to eat, they seem very healthy and active.   Without disturbing them much more than that, he put the hive back together and we watched them continue about their bee business.

This activity made me wonder what on earth they could be finding to forage this time of year?  It didn’t take me long to remember that yesterday while I was walking Ruby I noticed that the witch hazel out at Bennet Spring was blooming.  I have a few witch hazel trees here at the Havens, so it wasn’t much of a leap to wonder if perhaps our bees had found them.

I went to look, and lo and behold!


The bees have indeed discovered that there is a source of pollen out there for them.  While I was playing bee paparazzi, I saw a couple of tachnid wasps out there too. They declined to be photographed, so I can’t prove it.

Then I went out and weeded the strawberry, blueberry and raspberry cage.   It was very healing to dig out all that henbit and chickweed.  The whole cage looks great!  While I was working, I could hear the hum of the hive on the other side of the fence.

Maybe I will have some time to work on my art journal this evening.  That would be very good.


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hospitals are …

Well, I have been driving back and forth to Springfield this week to Mercy Hospital because my mother had a bad occlusion in the veins of her left leg, so bad that she was in danger of losing her foot.

First the surgeon tried a stent, but that opening of the veins didn’t even last all night.  So this morning they did a bypass using a vein from a cadaver.  Surgery took over 4 hours, she took over an hour in recovery.

My sister and I saw her in the ICU where she is incarcerated for the night.  She looks pretty good for someone who is 90 and just had a major surgery.

Meanwhile, back in Texas, my older sister was also in the hospital.  She is in the process of getting over an episode of leukemia.  She had extensive chemo last July and has had several rounds of consolidation chemo.  This pretty much wipes out the immune system as well as the platelets.  This last round went well, she went home and her cat got pissed off with her and bit her badly.   She has been on IV antibiotics for several days to keep the ensuing infection from becoming systemic.

So while my mother was trying to keep her foot here in Missouri, my older sister was trying to keep her life.

I’m ready to not have anyone in any hospitals for a while.

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As many of your may know, my life has been a journey which has encompassed many places and quite varied experiences.   For the last twenty years, my focus has been on the body:  how it works, how we can assist it to be as healthy and whole as possible.   My work as a massage therapist has brought me to places where there were epiphanies in my understanding.  I recently had one of these revelatory moments.

Body work has a tendency to bring you into contact with the human physical form and the human psyche on a very deep level.   Different modalities of body work facilitate this contact in different ways.   Lately one of my favorite modalities has been CORE body work.   CORE stands for “Coax Order, Restore Energy” which, in my mind, is exactly what I am doing when I do massage.

The end of last week I attended a gathering of CORE body workers which was truly a blessing for me.   We took a short class, and held a seminar.  Then we worked on each other.   Not only did it validate for me the value of my work, but it gave me a personal experience of the power of our work during the hands on session.   The room was small and the group intimate and safe.  We split up in such a way that the person who was receiving the work was being worked on by three people at the same time.

This was amazing, to say the least.  The workers were all very experienced, and sensitive to the receiver at the same time as being cognizant of what the other workers were doing. The level of cooperation between the three workers was exemplary.  As the recipient of the work, I can testify that when you have that many points of contact and work going on at once, you simly cannot focus your conscious brain on them.   Your conscious mind just can’t accomplish that task with so many places to attend to., and consequently, it is impossible to block the work.  The end result is, your busy brain gives up trying to be in control.  I found myself able to sink into the experience and allow blockages and stored trauma to come loose.   The effects were profound on a physical level as well as a psychological and spiritual level.

I encourage people who are not doing so yet to find a way to receive body work, especially such mindful work as CORE body work.   I am not saying that this is the only way you can experience release and healing, but it is certainly a very good way, and I have found it effective for myself and for my clients.


The seminar was illuminating.   I won’t go into all the details, but one of the results of the seminar was I decided to start watching a series of anatomical dissection demonstrations by a Dr. Gil Hedley.   He has generously made his series of dissections readily available on YouTube, and I believe anyone who is interested in how their body is put together will enjoy his demonstrations.

Hedley is a master at dissection, and has detailed knowledge of the anatomy and physiology that he is laying out for you to view.   While he dissects, he discusses the different structures and organs, and part of the glory of this series is listening to him philosophize about the miracle that is our human body.

Yesterday I was watching his Integral Anatomy series, specifically the section on superficial fascia, which some people refer to as the adipose layer.   When he got to the end of the dissection and was reverently admiring the superficial fascia layers he had removed  from a male and a female cadaver, he went into a reverie that so moved me that I sat down and transcribed the whole thing so I could study it in depth.  I feel the ideas in it are so powerful and beautiful, I wanted to share it with you.

Here is Gil Hedley’s very beautiful discussion of the superficial fascia layer of the human body:

The superficial fascia is truly beautiful, an awesome structure:   A sense organ; a warming device; a place of sensuality and comfort as well as a place of reserve energy; stored life force; emotional movement’ and other possibly as yet undiscovered functions and purposes…

…Our culture places a premium on “fat free” and “no fat” and there is a certain level of “problematization” of the adipose layer — the superficial fascia — in our culture.   And yet, as we view and appreciate this superficial fascia here, we can come to a deeper understanding of the many positive attributes of this layer, that cannot be dismissed and which we judge at our own risk, really, at risk of our health and our human experience.

The superficial fascia, like all connective tissues, is piezoelectric; it has the capacity to generate electrical fields when stretched and pulled in gravity.  It’s my belief that this is part of what makes this a sensing layer, so that the interaction of the fields generated by the superficial fascia with the surrounding fields in the environment enable the sensitive person, sensitive in virtue of their superficial fascia, to listen to their surrounding environments at a very deep level.

Perhaps this might be a physiological and anatomical root of what we reference as female intuition, and our general cultural movement to judge, and dismiss, and diminish the adipose layer may in fact represent not only a judgment of the feminine, but of a feminine  power that is inherent in this layer for both men and women.  At the same time we can recognize in this figure here how, without the superficial fascia, ultimately the form is masculinized. The demand, the unreasonable demand, for the reduction in an inordinate manner of this layer is, in a sense, asking women to reduce something that is inherent to their structure and something that is integral to all human form.

Our culture also defines where on the body superficial fascia may ideally manifest, and yet those ideals make no reference to the natural genetic dispositions and the psychodynamic tendencies of any given individual.  Each person is quite unique in their patterns of distribution of superficial fascia, and it is unreasonable to place upon ourselves the demands that it be distributed just here at the hips or just here at the breasts and not elsewhere as well.  Instead, let’s make an invitation to both recognize this layer, acknowledge it, and accept it as inherent to our human form; as inherent to it as an other layer and requiring our acceptance and integration of it so that we might step into the power of this layer.

The power of this layer is both something at a physiological level and a sensitivity level, as we’ve discussed, as well as the shifting power in a culture when a culture accepts its feminine layer. Also, this layer represents to us all a form of resource.   While it is true that in our culture we have epidemic obesity, this is hardly the fault of the layer itself.   What it represents instead is a distorted relationship with the layer, which we can correct by engaging it, accepting it, and developing our understanding of it.

It is my hope that this exploration of superficial fascia will provide grist for the mill, and will provoke curiosity and investigation on the part of scientist and somanauts alike, who can explore and tell us more about the  properties of this layer.  Within recent times it has been demonstrated that the entire level is replete with actively contractile muscle fibers previously overlooked, and that these muscle fibers are part of our wound healing response.   This I learned form Robert Schleip, who is exploring with researchers in England this contractile property of fascia itself.

Of course, within the female superficial fascia, the breast also resides, and there we have a place of nourishment and specialization of the fibers there.

Thank you Dr. Hedley.   I resolve to engage, accept, and devellop my understanding of my superficial fasica, my adipose layer, and to revel in the power that it respresents.

Until next time, I wish you all health and joy.

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Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last
Just kicking down the cobblestones
Looking for fun and feeling groovy
Ba da da da da da da, feeling groovy

Hello lamppost, what’cha knowing
I’ve come to watch your flowers growin’
Ain’t cha got no rhymes for me?
Doo-it in doo doo, feeling groovy
Ba da da da da da da, feeling groovy

I got no deeds to do
No promises to keep
I’m dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep
Let the morning time drop all its petals on me
Life I love you, all is groovy

(59th Street Bridge Song, Simon and Garfunkel)

I’ve been plagued by earworms lately, and this is the one that was going through my head this morning as Ruby and I walked the sun up this morning.  Frankly, it beats the heck out of the one I was suffering from yesterday, which was the title number from “Guys and Dolls.”

We arrived at the conservation area well before dawn.   The moon was high, and just the slightest tinge of pink was showing at the eastern horizon.   We had only gone a quarter of a mile when I saw something gleaming in the grassy verge by the path.   I picked it up, and discovered that it was an owl wing feather.    Beautiful.

A little scenario played itself out in my mind as I visualized the rabbit sitting near the wood’s edge, enjoying its evening repast; the stoop, the grab that doesn’t quite hit its mark allowing the rabbit to kick out and dislodge the feather as the owl bore it away for its dinner.

I mused on this idly as I continued my walk, and as I rounded the next corner I saw the owl, sitting in the top of the dead tree from where she likes to hunt.   I stopped short, told Ruby to sit, and we watched her survey the field.   Then she called, low hooting answered by a higher gabble of a juvenile owl from the deeper woods.   It seems that there have been hunting lessons going on.   I thought perhaps it was her youngster that missed the mark.  But no, she turned and saw me watching her, and as she gracefully left her perch to join the other owl in the deeper woods, I could see the gap in her wing feathers where the feather in my hand had been lost.

The other feathers in the arrangement are from a blue jay and a heron, also collected during dog walks in the past couple of weeks.  I came across the luna moth wings a couple of days ago, also while walking Ruby.   I searched for the lower pair of wings, but I suspect that a bat was the demise of this moth and the lower wings were consumed along with the thorax, while the larger upper wings flew off when the bat captured the moth.  The other butterfly wing came from Bennett Spring the day I collected the thousands of tiny ticks..

I love that last image, the super close-up of the eye on the luna moth wing.

There seem to be other eyes looking about the place today.

Not eyes, but beautiful this morning — lichens on my teak bench and society garlic sporting dew jewels.

The labyrinth was rather special this morning.   It needs to be mowed, of course, but it is bedizened with surprise lilies today.

This just proves that you can really neglect the bulbs of this plant.   I wanted them in the labyrinth, and three years ago dug a big cluster that was crowding out my chives.   Then I left them in a bucket for about five weeks because I got distracted by something or other and just never got back to them.   When I finally planted them, I realized that I might have been expending all that effort for nothing.   The following year I was sure I had wasted that energy, as there were no lilies at all.    But surprise, surprise!    They just had to recoup their losses, and now they are gorgeous.

I went off to the opthalmologist yesterday in search of answers about my sudden abundance of floaters and the meteoric flashes I experienced Thursday, and was once again reminded of the passage of years.   What a little cutie pie he was — not a bit older than my son.   And he called me Ma’am, an address which is the kiss of death to feeling youthful.

He dilated my eyes and made an extremely thorough examination, and he had good news for me.   All those floaters are really in there, not a figment of my imagination.   Since I described the way my floaters looked in terms of looking at pond water full of bacteria, protozoans and algae, he chose not to talk down to me when discussing my condition.   My retina is firmly attached all round in both eyes, and there are no bulges indicating that fluid has accumulated behind it.   I do have pavement degeneration, which seemed to please him since he doesn’t get to see it all that often and I guess it is interesting. (I looked  that up when I got home, and it is not really a big deal, just one of those things that goes along with becoming “Ma’am” and noticing that one’s perky boobs have obeyed the Law of Gravity and have descended waistward.)

I was sent home with a new spectacle prescription which will probably make my left eye stop feeling so tired, and instructions to come back for a re-check in 6 months.  The only caveat was if I see flashes that look like camera flashes, or something “draping across my vision that won’t go away.”   I guess meteor streaks are not such a big deal, it’s camera flashes you have to worry about.   “Don’t worry, be happy,” were his last words to me as I left his office.    (Thank goodness that didn’t become my next earworm!)

And so I returned home, feeling groovy and in love with life.  Just like the song.  Which is probably why I’ve been hearing it today.

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Surprise lilies, magic lilies, naked ladies — whatever you call them, Lycoris squamigera is probably one of my favorite flowers.  Bear in mind that when I say I have a favorite flower, you should take it with a grain of salt.   Once I asked my mother what her favorite flower was, and after a short thought she said, “Whatever one I’m looking at.”

I have a lot in common with my mother!   But I do have a soft spot for this flower because it blooms during the hottest and driest part of the summer.   My mother always called them Naked Ladies, because they come up looking very bare, with no foliage around them.   But magic lilies and surprise lilies are great names too, since they really appear from nowhere in a great hurry.

Last Monday, I was admiring the Lycoris that had come up along the back of the house, and under the redbud tree too.   I wondered where the rest of them were, as I was seeing no signs of them.

On Wednesday morning, I noticed that there were a few heads starting to poke up from the ground in the area where I had been missing them.   I didn’t get out there to take a picture until Thursday, and by then the few heads had gotten pretty tall and had been joined by quite a few more.

The speed of development impressed me, so I decided I should take a shot every day to document it.

This is Friday morning.

Of course, I missed Saturday.  But this is what it looked like on Sunday.

The whole garden was really quite lovely in the late afternoon light.

Can’t resist a close-up portrait.

I managed to capture one of the hummingbirds during a regular visit to the purple hyacinth beans that share the arbor with the wisteria.

They are hard to capture as they don’t stay put very long, and they are quite suspicious of the noises the camera makes when it turns on.

In other news, Miss Mallory has developed a fascination for her water dish, and spent the afternoon the other day trying to figure out why she could not dig a hole in the water.   She also likes the harvest baskets.   I know I shouldn’t encourage her, but she is teething and finds the handles convenient to chew on.

I prefer having her chew the baskets than my fingers, so I guess I won’t stress too much about it.   If I was going to stress about anything, it would have to be all the claw marks my nice leather furniture now sports.   I’m not sure exactly how you fix things like that, but I suppose I’m going to have to find out.

Today I am going to visit my physician and find out why I am suddenly the proud owner of dozens of floaters and an intermittent lightning flash in my peripheral vision.   Hope it is nothing too serious, while my extensive knowledge makes me quite fearful that my retina has decided to come loose to some extent.  This all just started a couple of days ago, so at least if something is going on, it will be cared for quickly.   I’d really hate going blind in one eye.

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