‘All or Nothing’ Much?

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Consider this a graphic depiction of my life. I’m either ALL IN … except when I’m ALL OUT. Let me explain.

I use a CPAP machine as therapy for sleep apnea. My machine gives me a “sleep score” for every night that I use it. (Hint: use is the operative word!)

In order to get a 100 score you must:
1) have the mask on for a minimum of seven hours (70 points)
2) have good mask seal (20 points)
3) have less than 6 “events” per hour (5 points)
4) only take your mask off once/twice per night (5 points)

In order to get a 0 score you must:
Not put the mask on. This is what a British nanny would call “bing NAWty.”

Disclaimer:
DO NOT take this as permission/suggestion to not use your own CPAP machine. Those little boxes can save lives. Since I’ve lost 40 pounds some of my apnea has gone away [based on the word of my husband, not a new sleep study] and I’ve been, well, careless. Since my weight loss has stalled, however, I decided on March 10th to give my body every possible advantage; practically, that means using my machine.

Observations:
1. I’ll be honest: I used to feel blushing shame that I needed a CPAP machine. It was something I kept secret. The best remedy was finding friends who used a CPAP and hearing them say how much it helped.

2. This much is true: I can look at any photo of me and tell you instantly if it was B.C. (Before CPAP) or A.D. (after device). My eyes tell all. Haggard or bright.

3. Do not believe that having the mask on for seven hours means I slept seven hours. The pity is my over-caring about a stupid number. I have learned how to play the game, how to ‘cheat’ the numbers. I have woken at 3:52 and waited until 4:14 to rip off the mask and go back to sleep. All for a number. (There may be other therapy I need!)

Any other all-or-nothing types out there? CPAP users?

 

Listening In on Grownup Conversations

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When I was a child, my bedroom was an upstairs windowless closet with a slanted roof. There was barely room for a bed to the left and a dresser to the right. A lonely light bulb hung from the ceiling. My dresses floated from a pole across the ceiling. Don’t think Dickensian: I loved my own cozy cocoon.

The room was at the top of a stairway that had two ninety-degree turns. As the youngest in a home where parents sent their littles to bed at 8:00 p.m., I often sensed that I was missing out on the important stuff of life. I’d hear the murmur of conversations that I wanted to be part of. I would tiptoe out of my bedroom and down the five steps to the landing where the stairs turned. As close as could be and still remain out of sight. Hugging my benightgowned knees, I would strain to hear the grownups talk.

Even when I didn’t understand the talk, I enjoyed the aura, the camaraderie. When laughter erupted, I sat in the darkness and smiled.

That, my friend, is how I feel reading C.S. Lewis’ academic work The Allegory of Love. I’m sitting in the dark, listening to the adults, not quite understanding all the fine points, but basking in the atmosphere. Smiling when I grasp a point, soaking up the delicious banter.

Happy to be in the company of such witty erudition.

Like that little girl long ago, I need patience. Lewis quotes Latin, Greek, French, Old French, Old English without translation. He writes about writers whose names I’ve never before heard. He uses words that have never come close to my radar.

Sometimes the words are clear. It was the misfortune of Jean de Meun to have read and remembered everything: and nothing that he remembered could be kept out of his poem.  Yeah, I think, I’ve heard sermons like that.

So I will continue sitting in the dark, craning my ear, hoping to hear something wonderful. Why? Because I’m stubborn; but mainly to be in the delightful company of CSL.

 

A Winter Travelogue

We wanted to honor our friend (my next door neighbor from Lombard, IL) and his family at his memorial service six hours away. The Pacific Northwest has been pounded with winter storms this weekend. As we studied the radar it looked like there was a break in the weather, when we could thread the needle and get through. We decided to give it a try. Except for a few dicey spots, the trip was a blessing.

Chapter 1  Setting Off

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This, my friends, is Eastern Oregon.

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Dry pavement. Yes!

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Deer crossing

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Welcome, Holly! This sign has been a source of delight for decades.

Chapter 2  Investment Opportunities

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This stark landscape reminds me of the Midwest. Or Scandinavia.

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A fine barn

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I imagine homesteaders lived here once upon a time. Or, perhaps a school?

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The detail on this fine old barn thrills me.

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Roof needs repaired. Air conditioning free.

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It was Tiny before Tiny Houses were cool

 

Chapter 3     Birds and Such 

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We’ve never seen so many hawks on posts. Here, there, here again. Sidenote: I over-helped my son write a paper on the red-tail hawk in 1993. I’ve never forgotten the scientific name: buteo jamaicensis.  Isn’t it weird what sticks to the inside of your brain?

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This horse has been studying and applying the Marie Kondo method.

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 Hawk perched in a tree.

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Waterfowl feeding

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I am drawn to lonely trees

 

Chapter 4  Coming Home on the Rattlesnake

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Driving south towards Lewiston

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I wonder how this highway was named The Rattlesnake?

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Looking down from above

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It descends, slithers along the floor of the canyon (see center of picture),
and slinks upward to the next plateau.

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S-curves superabound

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Sidling up to the mountain

 

Chapter 5  Watch for the Light

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Coming into the Wallowas, spots of blue sky

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A shroud of clouds cannot cover it. The light still shines.

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Light and shadow. And a lonely tree.

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Luminous

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Winter glory

 

Bonus Chapter: Deer and Elk

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Outside of Enterprise, deer feeding

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Outside of Imbler, elk herding

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I don’t have the skill to convey this magnificent sight: about 300 elk

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Walking, loping, bunching together

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Move ’em out!

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Bull supervising the exodus

My Reading Rodeo – 2018

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In 2017 (which still feels like last year, but technically isn’t) I joined a Facebook group and read through all of Shakespeare. It involved about five hours a week; I told myself this was continuing education. In 2018 I wanted to continue deep-reading, but without the pressure of all of [insert author’s name] in one year.

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Thus began my C.S. Lewis Reading Project. I’m reading through his published works at the rate of about fifty pages a week. I’ll admit it: my motivation flagged when I hit some hard spots (his early poetry, for one). But I’ve been promising myself that I’d reread The Space Trilogy (which I’ve been a stranger to since high school) and this year I’m happy I did.

Read with Me
Some local friends and I have been talking about starting a book club, but we’ve not unwrapped that package yet. Besides CSL (which I’m reading with some Facebook friends) the Close Reads podcast has been a continual feast. Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory , the story of a whiskey priest in Mexico, was satisfying on many levels.

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Because they have four more hours in the day than the rest of us, the people at Close Reads started another podcast called The Play’s The Thing. I l-o-v-e the concept of reading through Shakespeare’s canon, one act at a time.

My friend Mary Jo Tate guides a burgeoning group of readers through Jan Karon’s Mitford books on Facebook. We just read Shepherds Abiding at Christmas.

This Is Your Life
Biographies and memoirs, old and new, are always a staple in my reading diet. I read the final six of a twenty volume set, Makers of History. Tara Westover’s Educated was a stunner. And 2018 was the year I made it through a 1K marathon of a book, Martin Gilbert’s Churchill. My favorite memoir was Hannah Grieser’s The Clouds Ye So Much Dread.

Soo-prize, SOO-PRIZE!!
Oh, yes, books surprised me. Nina Teicholtz’s The Big Fat Surprise is in the category of game-changer. Oh. boy. Not only are saturated fats good for you (?!!) but vegetable oils like safflower, canola, and corn oil have been around less than a hundred years and are pretty much guaranteed to make you sick.

Barbara Tuchman wrote about Stilwell and the American Experience in China, and I bet you’ve never heard of this general. He would have been the Allied Surpreme Commander, Eisenhower’s role, except that he knew the language, the people, and the geography of China better than anyone in the armed forces.

Kiddos
I spend a day a week with my four local grandkids. Of course, I read books aloud whenever I can: while they eat lunch, practice handwriting, sculpt playdough, etc. We read through Andrew Peterson’s tetralogy, The Wingfeather Saga. Wow oh Wow oh WOW! I’ve never known them to be so captured by a story.

Health and Diet
For a reason I cannot fathom, it is like a switch turned on this year and I started to really care about my health. This is potentially the most boring paragraph in this blog post, so I will give each book one word: Fasting, diabetes, sugar, cancer, and brain health.

Favorite Authors
I managed to read at least one title of Anthony Trollope, P.G. Wodehouse, Wallace Stegner, Wendell Berry, and Barbara Tuchman. Good stuff!

Reading and Lambing in Advent

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Wednesday was a glorious day watching twin lambs born. These girls above left the pasture, curious to know who was having a get together and why they weren’t invited to the party. And if there was any food for poor wandering circus performers.
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It used to be daunting to be the adult-in-charge (an honorary title) during lambing season. But my Farmer Boy grandson has three seasons under his belt. Here he is checking progress.

While I was watching everything, I was also listening. Gavin patted the ewe, assuring her that she was doing a good job.  Thirteen years old, and a powerful combination of compassion and capability.

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The view to the south from the barn door.

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The maternity ward. Two more sets of twins were born yesterday.

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This is the number 1 assistant. His face lit up when he realized that the lamb born might be his first stock show lamb.

Let’s shift a moment to reading. In the fall of 2016 I started reading the first book of a young adult fantasy,  The Wingfeather Saga. I read a 2-7 chapters aloud once a week. It’s a very interactive time. When some characters listen to troll poetry, pretending to like it, I ask, “Show me pretending to like it.”

Andrew Peterson’s books have engendered meaningful conversations with each episode. This week we read a chapter called The Pain of Remembrance.  Monsters who used to be humans see something that makes them remember what life used to be like. Ouch! It hurts! is their response.

Preston (pictured above) explained: “I think it doesn’t feel like [physical] pain for them. But it hurts in a different way because they can’t go back.”

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There’s always onlookers

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Ethan (face not shown) warming up one of the barn cats.

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Gavin collects the colostrum to give to the newborn before he/she can stand up.

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One latched on and one being licked by mom.

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The smile of a successful start of lambing season.

Let’s Have a Catch Up

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I write blog posts in my head. Shoot, I write series of blog posts in my head. (One imaginary series is entitled A Walk to Remember, with photo highlights and musings from different locations and walking partners.) But still, the blog stays silent.

Today, I’m going to interview myself. Maybe if I can clear out my mental debris the ‘flow’ will return.

Who are you? The big project of the last five months is to reinvent myself. {laugh track} When I wake up in the morning, I typically anticipate that day’s reading, be it audio, Kindle, or print. I can plant my bottom and sit; sit through noon, sit until the moon is high in the midnight sky. I also love two-hour phone calls with my siblings (while sitting) or copying quotes into my journal. Or playing the piano (sitting down). Or entering every receipt into Quicken.

It’s all rather boring. Unless you’re me. Then it’s a delight.

But I long to be able to consider myself an outdoor woman without smirking. The kind whose face lights up when someone suggests a hike. A person who thinks there’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.  Let’s be kind and say this is a work in progress.

What’s not working? Photography, for one. I’m in an in-between space: shooting raw photos, but not editing them. Meanwhile the backlog grows. Wanting to improve, but not putting the time in or buying the software. Frustrated by my lack of discipline to learn a new skill.

Um, OK. Is anything working?  Yes! There is one hack I’ve discovered. Ditch the snooze alarm. I started walking with some friends in September. My alarm goes off eleven minutes before I leave the house. When the choice to keep sleeping is removed, one gets out of bed. It’s truly been a life changer.

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Anything new?  Yep. The day after I received this wooden sign, a deer ran into my car. Where I live, sadly, it’s so common that people start yawning when you mention it. The deer didn’t stick around, so I don’t know the extent of its injuries.  I am grateful that the only damage sustained by me was to my car. Cars can be fixed.

What surprises you?  When I was a student, science was my least favorite subject. Suddenly, I’m studying science! Neuroplasticity, metabolic issues, hormones, biometrics. Weird.

What are you reading?  Much on nutrition by Jason Fung, Gary Taubes, David Perlmutter, and Nina Teicholz. I always have a C.S. Lewis book going, but found that some of his earlier books are rough sledding. Reading classics along with the Close Reads Podcast is fantastic. Most recently, we read Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory.  And for comfort and joy I’ve been residing in Mitford with Jan Karon and in Thrush Green with Miss Read. My goal is to read through the Bible yearly. This year I chose the Living Bible that my dad gave me when I was 15. (It looks just like the one in the link.) Reading notes my teenaged-self wrote has been interesting and the vernacular in this paraphrase is fresh.

What about music?  So the neatest thing happened. OPB, our public radio station, gave our library heaps of CDs they had culled from their collection. Our library sold them for a quarter each. I brought heaps of them home. I’m listening to all kinds of music. Some go straight to the thrift store. But I’ve found several gems. It’s cheap entertainment!

I thought this was going to be quick.  I get the hint. Later, readers!

 

 

Thyme in a Bottle

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I harvested and dried thyme from my herb garden. This morning I painstakingly picked the leaves off the branches while I caught up on a few of my favorite podcasts. What you see represents two to three hands-on hours. Yep.

Curt (my husband) raised an eyebrow when the slow speed of the progress registered in his brain. Really, Babe? was what his face said. “You have NO IDEA of the preciousness of thyme,” was my curt reply. 🙂 I don’t see it as a waste of time to work on thyme. 

This is year 2 of the thyme revolution. It’s a life-changer! If you have a shred of belief in aromatherapy, you might comprehend the fund of joy I receive when I unscrew this lid and smell my dried thyme. Especially in February. Because I am a show-and-tell girl down to my DNA, I have been known to make visitors take a whiff.

“That spice cabinet is amazing!” they say.
“Thank you,” I politely say. “Smell my thyme.”

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