I’m Still Standing

Yes, I’m still here. Or at least a part of me is.

I still do not know what is wrong with me. The doctors have given up. They’re calling it fibromyalgia for lack of any other diagnosis.

The good news is that I have nothing “serious” like ALS, RA, MS or cancer.

The bad news is that I still have limited use of my hands and arms, need help dressing and am in constant pain — although it varies from extremely light to near crippling depending on how much I am using my hands.

Fortunately I have found a wonderful pain management and rehabilitation doctor who is turning to some alternative forms of medicine for treatment. He assures me that once the pain is gone and toxins are removed, function will return. I don’t believe him. I think something is wrong and the doctors are looking in the wrong places, but I am told any further testing would be futile — by two different specialists.

In fact, I’ve been told to ride it out and see if the pain management doctor can help me and then we’ll look into it again in another six months …

So, my disbelieving self is going along with the plan, because there are no other options. My intellect has given up hope, but I believe my deep inner emotions still have some sort of faith because without some hope, what is the point of continuing?

We begin acupuncture and cupping today and aqua therapy tomorrow. We shall see how it goes.

For now, I am enjoying summer without my two favorite outdoor hobbies — biking and kayaking.

Matt put a few tomato plants in pots for me to watch grow. He also planted a couple of cucumber plants, some swiss chard, two mini sweet pepper plants and a couple of green onions, along with a few herbs. Everything is in either a pot or a small raised garden right outside the back door, so there is no weeding. Obviously it will only generate enough food for a dinner here or there, but it is something.

On a good day, I am able to water the pots and fill my bird feeders. On a bad day, my husband does it for me.

Speaking of birds, I spend a lot of time outside just sitting and watching them.

Last week, I happened to have my camera with me and was privileged to witness this red-wing blackbird putting on a marvelous display. All of the photos were taken from my back porch, where I was sitting. He was prancing and showing about 20 feet in front of me on my swing and around one of the bird feeders. He went on for about 10 minutes, with lots of breaks in between to call, dine and rest.

It was so incredible to see. I so thankful I had my camera so I could record the moment!

Take care.

Baby Blue Jays

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Have you ever had one of those magical times in nature where you just happen to witness something spectacular? This was one of those times.

I was sitting on my back deck, enjoying a cup of coffee and watching my chickens play (a favorite pastime of mine). I had filled the bird feeders and given the chickens a little treat and then just sat back and relaxed. I was enjoying the cacophony of sounds from various feathered friends, but the blue jays were definitely the loudest. And then they came. Young jays flew onto my swing, the bird feeder, the shed and into and out of the nearby trees. I’m not sure how many I saw that day, but from the photos, it looked like at least two. They posed for photo after photo (this is about 1/4 of the ones I took) in between calling to friends or mom. Then, they would fly off and another would appear. They didn’t seem at all threatened by the chickens or the crazy lady on the porch. For about 20 minutes they posed and gathered sunflower seeds, while I photographed and studied them. It was incredible.

I, of course, used Mosaic Moments Grid Paper on this page. I find it is the perfect way to scrapbook when you have so many photos you want to use. The different size squares and rectangles allowed me to emphasize the important portions of each photo.

I also used layering dies to make the photo mats on this one. And, I even made a video to show you how I did it!

Fir Trees

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These photos were taken on our trip to the UP in June. This was the day we decided the rain and cold wasn’t going to ruin our vacation and we bundled up and hiked through the wooded beach. It was so beautiful.

I used the new Fir Tree die from Mosaic Moments to embellish the page. I love this one because you can use it with or without the grid square.

I am imagining a border of these trees all decorated for the holidays, but I can’t do that until after Christmas, when I have photos to use!

Until then, I made a video to show you how easy it is to cut and put together this little tree. Click here to watch it!

Mosaic Windows

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As you probably know, my studio is in the corner of my living room beneath huge picture windows. When I sit at my desk, I look out over several vacant lots and woods owned by my husband’s parents. “The park,” as we call it, is filled with my mother-in-law’s flowers and a huge garden. I have a bird feeder in front of the window and I love my view … even though I live on a small lake lot, I feel like I live in the country when I look out my window. I’m used to seeing a variety of songbirds, crows, turkey vultures, squirrels, chipmunks, and the occasional bald eagle, or neighbor’s cat or dog.

But this day, when I looked up, I was surprised to see two deer in the yard!

For a few seconds, those deer and I locked eyes. I was afraid to move, but I really wanted to capture the moment. Telepathically, I suppose, I sort of asked the deer if he would stay put. Figuring I was no threat, he stood in place while I snapped a few pictures with my phone and called my in-laws to tell them to look out the window (they weren’t home, which made getting pictures even more important).

The pictures on my phone were way too far away, but my camera was, of course, nowhere near my desk. Again, I silently “asked” the deer to wait for me and took off to my bedroom. I ran back to my studio, removing the lens cap and turning on the camera as I went, but expecting them to be gone when I got back.

Amazingly, the deer were still there, slowly exploring my mother-in-law’s flowers.

Getting over “deer fever,” I was able to get quite a few photos of the two. The female wanted to head back to the woods, but the male was insistent that she stay and he kept encouraging her to come back to the park to play — until something spooked them and they both ran back into the woods.

It may have only lasted a few minutes, but it was the first time I had the opportunity to really observe deer being deer — outside of captivity. It was an incredible moment and although some of my photos didn’t come out (I was shaking beyond my camera’s stability control), I did get some great shots through my dirty window!

I wanted it to be obvious that these photos were taken while I was inside. One of the dies from Mosaic Moments reminded me of a window and I knew it would be the perfect way to visually show that the photos were taken through the window.

I made a video to show you how I made this page. Click here to watch it

Have you had an opportunity to photograph animals in nature?

(NOTE: I get paid to make videos for Mosaic Moments).

Where are the animals?

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When I planned my trip to the Upper Peninsula, I went to see the animals. I had visions of hiking a trail for a mile or so, finding a big rock or log to sit on, sitting still for a few minutes, and then watching the birds and squirrels play. I thought, perhaps, I might even see an eagle, moose, elk, wolf or bear. (Well, I really didn’t expect to find one in the woods, but maybe along the side of the road or something …)

I spent a week and was along the shore and in and out of the woods. And I saw less than what I see in my own backyard. No songbirds. No deer. No rabbits. No squirrels. No raccoons. No foxes. No skunks. No coyotes. Not even any roadkill!

Honestly, I’m starting to think that whole bear and moose thing are myths! Probably something they tell us trolls (those who live below the bridge) to get us to travel up there and spend money.

I was extremely disappointed. And, since that was such a big part of our trip, I had to document it … so I scrapbooked the few animals I did see using the Mosaic Moments system.

Want to see how I did it? Click here to watch the video …

Mom’s Garden

momgarden_candy_spiegelMy mother has a beautiful garden, with her house in the middle of it!

 

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Really, she has dozens of gardens around her house, garage and sheds.

 

 

momgarden_candy_spiegel3Her garden has been featured on a local charity garden tour fund-raiser twice.

 

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Many of the gardens are separated with fencing, sheds, tall grass and other items. And many of them have themes … there is an outdoor room, a water garden, multiple fairy gardens and a miniature golf garden (built for the grandkids). My favorite garden is a hidden garden. Once you find it, you see it is filled with pink flamingos made from all sorts of materials.

momgarden_candy_spiegel2 During the summer, I took some evening pictures of her garden. Of course, I had forgotten to wipe my memory card clean, so I didn’t get very many pictures, but I did get a few …

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I’m sure these photos will find their way onto a scrapbook page or card at some point …

Waterfalls

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One of my reasons for taking a trip to the Upper Peninsula was to hunt waterfalls. There are hundreds there waiting to be photographed.

This is one of my favorites. It’s right on the side of the road, so no hiking is required. It is in a beautiful setting with walkways and benches to sit and enjoy it. And it is filled with foam and rocks and twists and turns as multiple tiny tributaries join in.

I used Mosaic Moments Grid Paper as my base for this spread. And, I used pictures of the signs as both the title and journaling block. Why re-invent the wheel!?