Saturday morning, a little hail storm came through unannounced.
I bundled up and went out on my new patio, under the roof that Glenn built. The ceiling color is sage, which you can't see here, and the posts are Elephant Skin Gray (Home Depot colors).
I think Samson thought it was snow because he was running back and forth having so much fun.
Always cautious, Faith wasn't sure she liked this white, wet, stuff at all. She's one lab mix that doesn't like to get wet. But since Samson was having so much fun, she decided she had to have more fun than he. She always has to have one up on him.
You can see the dark matter that is the result of his clogged tear ducts.
While Samson's various health issues are weighing on me, he's the healthiest and happiest I have seen him in a long time. I attribute a lot of it to the Wellness brand food he now gets.
Samson's vet appointment was last Friday, five weeks after the unsuccessful surgery. The vet took one look and said that his eyes looked great. He also confessed to thinking of Samson's eyes and worrying that they would look really bad.
I decided beforehand that I needed more information, including worst case scenario for Samson's eyes. So we talked about everything and this is what I learned: Continue the treatments. Come back in two to three months, yeah! Be concerned and bring him in if there's any irritation around his eyes or down his nose, where the stuff is dripping. Then surgery may be needed. If only a small area at the beginning of the duct is clogged, surgery could work. If it goes deeper, or tearduct is full of scar tissue from his underlying illness, it's possible surgery may not work. If surgery doesn't work and the eyes remain inflamed, worst case would be removal of his eyes.
And, strange as it may sound, that would probably be worse for me than for Samson. When he was three years old, he was totally blind for three days and he handled it really well. And, as I said to the vet, he would now have a seeing eye dog right here at home. Faith would watch over him like a hawk. And of the 12 or so dogs I have lived with, Samson's nose is second to none or maybe just to our beloved hound dog cross, Bandit's. And his hearing is superior to Faith's and all other dogs I have lived with, as far as I can remember. Best watch dog, ever. That's Samson.
I'm glad we this talk, the vet and I. While I will always worry, I have to focus on continuing his treatments, remembering they have been successful so far. Do the best you can, is my new motto. (Fran, this was Bud's advice to me, probably when I was worried about the house sale. Please thank him for me.)
I forgot that today is Sankta Lucia Day in Sweden and the other Scandinavian countries. Thank you fishducky for your Hanukkah post, which reminded me. I'm glad because I like to remember the traditions I grew up with. This is what I posted back in 2014: Many of you have read my Sankta Lucia posts in prior years. This time, I decided to combine the 2012 and 2013 posts and add some background to the Sankta Lucia customs in Sweden. If you read this for the first time, I hope you will enjoy learning about Saint Lucy and the tradition of the Festival of Light celebrations held in Sweden on her Saint's Day.
Me as Sankta Lucia in the 1940s
Throughout history, people in the Nordic countries have celebrated light in the dark and cold of the approaching winter solstice.
In the old calendar, December 13th was the longest night of the year. It was also the most dangerous. A night when animals could speak and fairies, trolls, and giants roamed the forests. In the countryside, young people would dress up in costumes and go from house to house, singing songs, eating and drinking with their neighbors. The custom of a Lucia dressed in white was first recorded in 1764, but didn't become popular until the 19th century.
This old tradition continues today. On December 13, Sankta Lucia Day is celebrated in Sweden with festivals of light across the country. And, at the darkest time of year, people are reminded that our earth will soon begin to turn toward the light of spring.
According to tradition, the eldest daughter in the family, wearing a white dress with a red sash and a crown of candles, brings coffee and Lucia buns (lussekatter) to her parents in bed.
Yes, that's me as Sankta Lucia with a crown of real candles on my head! (I did have a wet napkin on my hair, underneath the crown.) The girl and her court of younger siblings sing the old Neapolitan song Sankta Lucia in a translation that celebrates light coming to this dark season. This tradition continues in Swedish homes today, but with battery operated candles, I'm sure.
Sankta Lucia is crowned in schools, churches, and communities all over Sweden and processions are held with the Queen of Light leading her court. Everyone holds candles and sings the Sankta Lucia song.
Source: Google Images
Sankta Lucia, or Saint Lucy, was a Sicilian woman who was martyred in the year 304 AD. A common story suggests that she would secretly bring food to persecuted Christians who lived in the catacombs of Rome and, in order to keep her hands free, she wore a crown of candles on her head. Another legend tells us that she consecrated her virginity to God through pious works. After she refused to marry her betrothed, a pagan man, he became infuriated and reported her to the authorities. When guards came to arrest her, she was so filled with the Holy Spirit that they couldn't move her, even with a team of oxen. The guards then gathered materials around her and set them on fire, but she didn't burn. In medieval accounts, Saint Lucy's eyes are gouged prior to her execution and she is often depicted in art carrying her eyes on a tray.
Saint Lucy, by Domenico Beccafumi, in a 1521 recasting of an iconic Gothic image. It was said that Saint Lucy was tortured with eye gouging, hence this rather disturbing image. The picture, as well as some of the history of Saint Lucy, are courtesy Wikipedia.
Saint Lucy is the patron saint of the blind. Her name is derived from Lux, Latin for light, and she is presented with light in art and literature. Saint Lucy is one of only seven women, aside from the Virgin Mary, commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass.
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The coffee cups I carry in the second picture above, belonged to my maternal grandmother and they now have a home here with me.
and how I needed it after staying home with this stubborn cold for over two weeks.
Rachael came up and I wanted her to meet my neighbor, Joyce. They are closer in age than I'm to either of them, they are also two of the kindest people I know. Both care for animals, large and small, and do so with a lot of patience and love.
Rachael and Joyce in the nuns' garden.
We drove up the mountain to visit with sister Mary Magdalene in the nuns' giftshop. Rachael brought some of her homemade, delicious peanut brittle as a gift for the sisters.
And all three of us bought some of their home made soaps, preserves, and other things that make such great stocking stuffer gifts for friends.
I had to take a picture of the nuns' goats before we left.
Then we were off to town to have lunch and, after that, it was time for some thrift store therapy.
Joyce knew of a store that Rachael and I had not yet discovered, so we visited it, then the one that benefits our local hospital, and finally, St. Vincent du Paul, which will close at the end of the month. I picked up this pitcher and some other things I don't need. I love the colors in the pitcher and also that I now love to be surrounded by colors. I didn't always like strong colors the way I do now.
I took this picture just to document that my tree only began to lose it's leaves in December. Very late, it seems to me. And also that it did so well this year. All that rain we had helped everything grow. This tree is actually dead, the things that grow are the suckers, I think they are called, which normally you would get rid of, but they are now making a tree of their own. Nature is pretty wonderful, don't you think?
The fires are still going on, of course. The city of Ojai appears to have been saved, with the surrounding foothills getting the brunt of the fire with homes lost. It seems unbelievable that the largest fire is headed toward Santa Barbara. That's quite a distance from where it started.
I appreciate your kind comments and thoughts. I've been getting emails from friends and family in Sweden, worried about where I am in relation to the fires. Not close, don't even smell any smoke, so we are good here. My only problem is my cold, which has taken a lot of strength from me. I'm better, but not yet well. But the last time I had one was in 2011, so I shouldn't complain. Will begin walking the dogs soon and that should help to build my energy up again.
Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow.
The fire started somewhere around here, close to the lovely town of Santa Paula.
I read the Washington Post on my Kindle every morning, while having my breakfast in bed. For some reason, they have a reporter in Ojai covering the wildfires. This is what I read, and why I'm posting this. Don't know what I'm posting yet, but I do know that "shared sorrow is half a sorrow," so here I am, and here is what I read:
The largest of the wildfires - the Thomas fire, which spanned about 140 square miles in Ventura Country, roughly equal to the entire city of Philadelphia - surrounded Ojai on Thursday morning, officials said, endangering the popular winter retreat that is normally home to about 8,000 people. Most of the Ojai Valley was under a mandatory evacuation order.
Between 1976 and 1985, I spent ten spring vacations in Ojai and, for me, the town is so much more than a winter retreat. It's a place where people come to seek spiritual growth and understanding; it's a place where artists gather, inspired by the beauty of the valley and the majesty of the mountains that surround it; it's a place of memories for me, of good friends, good food, hikes in the mountains, and so much more.
As I'm writing this, I'm calming down a bit and realizing that this is all equally horrific, from the poorest people losing their homes to Rupert Murdoch's vineyards buring down for all to see on TV.
About 150,000 books here. And a wonderful tradition of trust, going back decades. I wrote about it in one of the posts above.
I don't watch TV in the mornings, so I don't know what else is going on. I just wanted to share my sorrow, the sorrow I feel for Ojai.
But then, as I'm writing this, other sorrows come to mind. The sorrow I feel for the animals, the wild animals with nowhere to escape, so many horses that could not be saved, that will not be saved, other livestock, and pets. And the people suffering through all this.
The dogs and I are OK. We will be under Red Flag alert if the winds pick up, but so far it's calm here. I'm hoping that our cold nights will reduce the danger and so grateful to the tractor guy who cleared my land.
I hardly ever go to town at night and at first I couldn't remember why I was there this August night last summer.
Then I realized it must have been on our way home from the ER, where my nephew took me when I had a kidney infection.
I'm glad we had to stop at the railroad crossing so I could try for some night photos with my phone.
After being treated with fever reducers, antibiotics, and best of all been re-hydrated with a drip, I was feeling so much better. But not well enough to remember I took these pictures, which I found on my phone the other day.
This poor old truck is the last of Jane's contributions, but she's been to New Mexico so there may be more. If not, I have a few of my own to post. After that, I need to drive around the countryside to look for more. A fun project to get me out of the house.
OK, I put this post and the next one up a while ago. Now I need to give a status report on my health: First of all, I have Type 1 diabetes. The kind also known as Juvenile diabetes. It's an autoimmune disease, where your body turns on itself, which mine decided to do when I was 49 years old. In Type 1, the body no longer produces insulin. None. In Type 2, the body becomes resistant to insulin, but still produces it. I'm immensely grateful that I didn't get this when I was young. That would have really cramped my style, as the saying goes. Mine is called 'adult onset' Type 1 and is very rare. It took almost a week, then yesterday a full-fledged cold set in. I'm glad, because I didn't feel good about the constant cough. Now that I'm sneezing, and blowing my nose, I feel sort of relieved. At least I know what it is. Thanks for your cleaning help comments. I think my problem is mostly when I get ill and can't do it myself. Or when a big holiday, like Christmas, approaches with so many other things to do. So I would wish for a cleaning service that could be trusted to just come in whenever there's a need and just clean house. Living this isolated, it may be difficult. Many of the service people in town won't come out here. Or that's what I hear. But I haven't investigated it myself. I will do that when I get better. My new vacuum cleaner works well and is light and easy on the new floors. I also bought a whole Swiffer set up and that works well too. The floors are dark, so the fur Faith constantly sheds doesn't show. Seeing the new dark floors, Samson must have decided that his pretty white fur would decorate it nicely. So he decided to shed - his overcoat (?), before winter (?). Usually they shed their undercoats in the spring. He hasn't done that since he was about five. Dogs! Finally, my friend Carol told me they ordered a special crush for gravel that would be comfortable for their large dog to walk on. They now have it in their yard and it works great, she said. She will find out the name of it and that, plus a few large indoor/outdoor rugs, may solve the problem of all the sand the dogs drag in. I just have to remember that a lot has gotten done and the rest will get done too. And that patience is a virtue.....
is really a drag. Not feeling well has brought the issue of needing help with house cleaning to the forefront of my mind. This is the season, after all, to enjoy the glitter of Christmas decorations in a clean and shining house.
Most of my girlfriends have help with cleaning their homes, starting this when they were busy working, busy moms, and so on. I've had help occasionally, but while enjoying the results, never really liked having someone in my house.
As I'm growing old, I wonder about this. I want to manage everything for as long as I can. I also think it's good to maintain my strength, as best I can, by doing things, lifting, bending, cleaning, and so on. Actually, I have been sweeping my new porch a lot and that's a good workout. And with two dogs, who show their love for their new doggie door by running in and out, in and out, dropping the dirt stuck in their paws on my new floors, there's plenty for me to do.
And so my thoughts go, as I'm wondering what may be wrong with me now. This has been going on for almost a week, low grade fever, cough, high blood sugars, which make me so tired.
I have drapes to iron, floors to polish, laundry to do, and so on. Guests are coming and I want to have a pretty house, a clean house, for the holidays.
My not so clean house right now.
Ack, yes, I do know this is minor, but sometimes kvetching a bit and getting some feedback, really helps. I did get one load of laundry done and hung on the line today. A bee landed on my pink sweatshirt, mistaking it for a flower, no doubt. Thanksgiving came with 80 degree weather, today it must be at least 75, tomorrow is predicted in the mid to high 40s. Poor bee, I thought, and all the rest of the critters who must be so confused by this weather.
Samson Says: Isn't it time to sing: Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow now? (His tear duct problem causes the brown stuff to leak from his eyes. Looks awful, but he doesn't seem to suffer.)
Faith Disagrees: No, no, let the sun shine and the temps rise to keep me warm. So life goes on, the house gets clean, windows washed, drapes hung, furniture polished, and friends come by and put things in perspective as to what really matters.
Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.
~ Rachel Carson
Today, I am grateful for still being able to hike and enjoy a beautiful morning in the canyon.
I am grateful for my 30 years with Errol. I miss you more now.......
I am grateful for my family and friends here in the US, in Sweden, and other places around the world. And, of course, I am grateful for you, my blogger friends, who have been so supportive and kind throughout the years.
I am so very grateful for Samson and Faith.
They keep me going, they get me up in the mornings, they make me play, they take me for walks and hikes, whether I want to or not.
I am grateful for nature, for living close to it, where it's still relatively unhurt by humans.