My View of Life Today

This image shows what it looks like when trying to discover the truth. It is a photo of a glass block…that distorts everything. To me…this is how the world out there appears to me. Total craziness. No real clarity

Many of us have heard the phrase “Looking at life through rose colored glasses.” Well, as I look around me now, you almost have to do that to see the world today in a pleasing light. So much dissension, contrasting descriptions of the same facts. It is hard to know who or what to believe!

People on both sides stating that their view…belief, is the only correct view. So sad. Plus, via the social media out there, every incident is magnified, pushed so far out of proportion. Under these circumstances, no discussions can be held. No middle ground can be found. 

I have always been a middle of the road individual. I look at both viewpoints and make my own decision. It is like that good recipe you can never repeat…you take a little of this, a little of that and so on…ending up with the best meal ever. But…how to repeat it?  How to get others to see the value of different viewpoints?

 

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Challenge Progress: Week Four

January 21

We had a lazy day…drove down to Red Lobster to make use of a gift card my daughter sent me. Elliot got the Sailors’ Platter and I got the Caesar’s salad with wood grilled shrimp. We both love their biscuits.

After a nice leisurely lunch we went over to Kohl’s to just walk around checking for bargains. Of course, I checked out the pots and pans that work well with the smooth top range. I decided that those that I have will work out just perfectly. I had purchased several individual Circulon years ago. They are great. I do have one Cephalon pot coming. It is a 1 quart to go with the 2.5 quart that I found at Walmart last week. Since there are just the two of us, those sizes are perfect.

One creative thing I did was to put together a collage of 4 images I took of my Living Stone succulent blossoms. This succulent is not even 2 inches high. The single blossom opens in the morning and closes each night for about a week. Its width is about an inch across.

January 22

Decided to break in my new stove. First you need to understand…I have not been big on cooking the past few years. The standing really is hard on my feet, aggravating my neuropathy. I had purchased a box mix of cornbread and mixed it all together…put it in my old cast iron skillet to bake. Loved the nice oven window and light that let me peek in instead of opening the oven door.

Discovered afterwards my feet were not happy with me. It amazes me that as long as I keep going they do not complain. It is only when I stop…even for just a minute that they cry out “UNCLE!”

After baking the cornbread I headed to Home Depot to get an anti-fatigue mat to place in front of the stove as I really hope to rectify my poor cooking habits of these past two years. Again, as long as I kept walking I was fine but as soon as I got back in the car my feet protested greatly.

The cornbread was delicious, so it was all worth it. I spread the melted butter-honey mix mentioned on the box over the cornbread.

January 23

Was going through my flowering shrub, vine and tree images. These are a part of my daily enjoyment throughout the year.

  1. The Jatropha is a woody shrub that blooms twice a year. Its leaves have a rough texture as do the branches. Took this image today.
  2. Next is the Crepe Myrtle. This tree does not grow quite as large in South Florida as it does up north.
  3. The frangipani is not that large here as it is in Hawaii. It has elongated leaves about 12 inches long that grow in clusters. The blossoms often appear in the middle of the leaf cluster, not visible in this photo. It blooms only in the summer. During the winter this tree has no leaves at all. In fact, it looks like multiple pairs of antlers. One nice thing though, if a branch is broken off, you can just stick it in the ground and it will grow! I did this after a hurricane damaged this tree.
  4. Finally, the Gloriosa vine.  While it dies out each winter, it comes back every spring. It does not mind the summer heat. The gloriosa has these long tendrils that reach out and attach to whatever is near for support and to climb.

Jatropha

Crepe Myrtle

Frangipani

Gloriosa Lily

 

 

 

 

 

January 24

This was a day filled with errands. I roamed through Walmart, went to the grocery store. Down here it is Publix for me. There is a Winn Dixie and also an Aldi…of course Walmart. We all have our favorite brands and where we shop is determined by our favorite brands. Aldi is quite an adventure for me. I like the atmosphere. It is just that I am so accustomed to being able to get pharmaceuticals along with my groceries I end up not shopping there. It would mean another stop at a drug store.

I tried going to Winn Dixie, but it is further away. Lets face it, there are times I just want to jump in my car, go down the road just a bit to do my shopping. Even with Publix…there are differences between stores, depending on the local residents. So, if I want a wider selection of certain items, I have to go to a different Publix!

January 25

I went to Home Depot for a piece of lumber and bought two more succulents. These will not be going into my long planter, but in the strawberry pot. Here is the long planter.

I will be taking some of those that remain small out of here so the others can spread. Plus there are some off shoots I can harvest. Those plus the two I bought today will go into my strawberry pot. Having image placement issues again!!!!

                 

January 26

I wear a CPAP mask and sometimes it is a bit uncomfortable. There are liners you can purchase to be worn between the mask and your face to make it more comfortable. It is possible to purchase these from your CPAP supplier, or online. They are meant for one night use only. I first tried making my own from an old, very soft t-shirt. Then I discovered the soft yet durable cloth used to clean your eye glasses. These liners can be washed, do not stretch and last a long time.

The images below show how my ResMed AirFit N20 rests on my face, minus a liner. Then I show the pattern I made, and also how it rests on my nasal mask.

        

I deliberately created two small tabs on the lower sides to make it easier to pull it when it is on, for comfort.

January 27

Nature fascinates me. Love searching out how plants are affected in different ways. There is one plant that really shows how sunlight affects its leaves and that is my dwarf schefflera. One day, I may remember how to spell the name of this plant without having to look it up! The dwarf variety is basically a bush.

The other variety can grow quite large. It is a soft wood tree and should not be placed where it can touch your home. I learned the hard way, that carpenter ants and I am sure termites, can use this tree to gain access to your home. I looked up at my ceiling while in bed and saw these large ants crawling around!  Silly me, without telling anyone, I climbed all the way through my attic to see where they were coming in. The schefflera was their route of entry where it touched the wood near the roof of my house.

Anyway…here are my images of how sunlight affects the leaves of this plant. When sun hits the leaves a change occurs. The leaves gain added color as the dark green is joined by a yellow-white coloration. The first image shows leave exposed to sunlight and their reaction to the sunlight. The second image shows the totally green leaves. Below the totally green leaves you can see some that are exposed to the sun, but on a lower level. This is another plant that can be propagated by just sticking a branch into the soil.

                             

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My Challenge: Week Three

January 14

I headed to Home Depot to check out stoves. Mine is over 20 years old. Wow, they have changed a great deal! I don’t need anything fancy, but sure enjoyed looking at those top of the line stoves. I did switch from coil burners to a smooth top. Hope I do not regret it. Researched which cookware was ok with the radiant heat surface and it looks like I am going to be OK. That old cast iron skillet is a no-no though. Haven’t used it in years anyway.

For the heck of it I explored the double oven models. There was one single oven that had a door  where you could open just the top half by squeezing a button in the handle. I guess that would be considered a heat saver.

What I did wrong was to order one stove last week, where the oven was a manual clean. Nope, not for me. That is what happens when you do not see the actual stove AND do not read the small print. The customer service, manager and appliance salesperson were great when I was there on Sunday. They explained how to go about canceling the delivery.

Thing is, that was an test that requiring great perseverance!  For three days I tried various avenues online, clicked different options on the automated service line when I called the number given. Finally on Monday…January 15, I had success. I got a LIVE person. Cancelation was complete.

It was a positive outcome in that I kept my mind occupied on exactly what I needed in a stove. I am not one who bakes cakes etc.. My needs when it comes to a stove are most basic. Therefore I bought a basic stove which will fit my needs. Yes, those fancy ones were something else, but the options they offered I would have never used.

January 15

Got a walk in to the boat ramp, but not much else. It was sort of a blah day afterwords. Took three photos of the actual dock at the park. Love close ups that show the detail of things.

This is the scene that I can see if I get to a certain spot at the right time. Here are two versions of the same scene. What a difference a day can make!

January 16

Oh my gosh, we went to the Treasure Coast Mall and walked from one end to the other. Was so sad to go into Sears. I grew up with the Sears Wishbook. Looking at all the wonderful things Santa could bring. Also sad to see that so stores had closed. Sign of the times, I guess. We ended up in the Food Court and shared one of our favorite meals from the Asian Chao vendor. Lo mein noodles, Burgundy chicken and stir-fried veggies.

There were lots of people there. I made the mistake of letting one of the vendors with a cart in the open area get started in trying to sell me some skin cream that would changed my skin forever!  Just cost $200. He assured me the jar would last for 3 years, but still. A super salesman, but my wallet just couldn’t handle that price.  Anyway, I earned every single wrinkle! I definitely got my walking in. I can see why people go to the mall to exercise by walking. Lots to look at as you make your way around the mall. Easy to spot those mall walkers as they have a definite stride going.

January 17

Crazy day…not much accomplished. I tried to draw, but ended up crumbling the paper. I have been good about getting on my mini stepper. I do 24 calories worth at a time. That equals about 4 minutes, 30 seconds. Not much, but right now that is my limit. I am trying to test my balance. Since my stroke, it can be a bit shaky. In the beginning I had to really have one hand resting on a support. Then I graduated to lightly resting on a support. This week I tested swinging my arms lightly with my elbows bent.  Did OK!  That made me feel good.

I did get my mile walk in outside. Last chance before the cold front came in.

January 18

So much negativity on our global stage. It reminded me of a very short poem I wrote in the mid 50s, when the Hungarian Revolution took place. Hearing the news had a major effect on the younger me.

I wish that I could see the day

When all the world was free.

When people of any race and creed

Could be friends as friends should be.

Not award winning, but I find the words have even more meaning now!

Did get my mini stepper in twice today. That felt good. Need to see if I can keep adding it more often.

January 19

Ok, I got a new stove. It has a smooth top surface vs the electric coils.

IMG_1013 I went through my pots and pans and I have pots that will work with it. I did buy one 3.5 quart pot and may get a 2.5 quart pot, but that is it. It requires a different way of thinking. I have to really be aware of this surface. My old range did take a lot of abuse, I have to admit. No more abuse allowed.

This means I really need to make sure the countertops on both sides are CLEAR!  “Did you hear that, Barb?” Ok, Ok…I hear you. “I know you can do it.”  I will do my best, honest!

Today I initiated it by making homemade chicken soup. It came out just as I hoped it would. It was the perfect meal for a cold Florida day.

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Challenge Progress: Week Two

As happens so many times lately, I start a project and it falls flat in just a short time. To keep going is in itself a very positive action.

January 7

I find hands to be most expressive. I often try to draw hands to express an emotion. The style or technique used when drawing the hand pays quite a bit to just how well the hand delivers the ‘message.’ wanted. This was demonstrated when I was working on the hand images below on the left. The original was in sepia. I thought I would update it digitally to black and white. The finished result was not what I wanted.

I took the original hand, duplicated it…flipped it…to get the image showing two hands. I used Procreate to create the image as a drawing. Then I used Enlight to join the two as one image. The image demonstrates a peaceful touch. Black and white was just too harsh to demonstrate this.

In contrast, the hand on the right speaks of a moment when one is hanging on for dear life! Black and white says it all!

 

IMG_0424

IMG_0008

 

January 8

I was involved in a project of scanning a medical questionnaire I needed to fill out. What I find challenging to do after scanning, is to fill it out on my computer, instead of hand writing my answers. My handwriting is a bit large and writing in narrow lines looks messy after I fill it in. I use a software program called PDF Expert. I learned this time, that I can go from one spot to another without having to start a new text area. I went down the line putting ‘x’ in all the appropriate squares.

I also like to use different colors to bring more importance to some data over other information I am putting in.

While this may not seem like such a big thing, to me it is a part of my plan to keep my brain actively involved by interacting with software. I have taught Word, Excel and struggled to teach Access in the past. Now I am using the same format of software, but the Macintosh version. For Word, there is Pages. Numbers is Mac’s version of Excel. Numbers and Pages are the two main programs I use. Then PDF Expert is what I use instead of Adobe’s PDF software. They all are similar when it comes to formatting and other operations.

Numbers is the most amazing to me…just like Excel. I call myself ‘numerically challenged’ as math on any level is difficult for me. I just updated my spreadsheet for my full year bill paying spreadsheet. I have a legal size, horizontal layout with columns for ‘date paid’ and ‘amount paid’ for each month of the year. Those mathematical formulas are amazing. I like the cell auto format also.

Was a bit nervous about getting my 2018 spreadsheet going but it all worked out just as it was supposed to. Big sigh of relief there as my brain was not as sure about it this time.

So, one big software project was completed and is in fine working condition.

January 9

Not sure what happened, but today was a bust. My neck issues were working overtime. I have an appointment to have it checked, which was why I was filling out the medical questionnaire. I have a warm scarf I keep around my neck as it does not like the colder temperatures we are experiencing right now.

Lesson I learned from my neck….do not ever hold a phone between your head and shoulders when talking to free up both hands so you can type at the same time. When I worked as a unit secretary in the ER back in the 90s, I did just that for 10 years. I am paying for it now. The headphones of today were not available back then.

January 10

Today was a totally different day. A friend lost her husband on Christmas. Theirs was a beautiful relationship full of love, sharing, and also a deep respect for each other. They have a beautiful home on the Indian River Lagoon that consisted of 5 acres, much of which was grass. Others might have hired landscapers to care for the property, but that was not their way. The two of them each had their own John Deere tractor-mower. They tackled the mowing of their property themselves. In Florida, especially during the summer, that becomes a full time job!

Elliot and I let her lead the way when it came to talking. We ended up listening to stories from all stages of her life. Elliot shared growing up in East Harlem. Her husband came into the different conversations…not as someone lost, but a relationship…friendship that was most positively shared.

January 11-12

Two more days that just didn’t seem to go anywhere. I got my walk in, took a few photos, but that was it!  Did the things I needed to do like cook, laundry and such, but nothing really creative. I did get in one special walk I often do and that is to go down to the boat ramp to meet up with Elliot. He goes ahead of me in his van, smokes his pipe and feeds the squirrels. It is one place I never get tired of going to. The river goes on both sides of the boat ramp. There is a nature walk I have taken a few times. It is also the home of this ancient tortoise. He lives in his hole in the ground. He will come out to sun at its opening if you are lucky. Get too close though and back he goes into his hole.

Below are two images from the boat ramp. One where the dock seems to be floating in the clouds because of the super reflection on the smooth river. The second is the tortoise when he ventured out away from his burrow.

 

tortoise

IMG_0497

January 13

Saturdays are often special days as it is when some friends and I meet for breakfast. We all went on a unique retreat about 20 years ago, called a Cursillo. Part of the followup was to meet on Saturdays and follow a certain prayer routine before breakfast, share our goals etc..

Over time our group evolved to just good friends getting together. Our bond is strong and there was one time when I needed help and the girls and their husbands came and helped me paint my house. WOW!  Talk about support. We are down to fewer members as some have moved away and one succumbed to cancer.

We are a bit spread out now, but still the need to come together remains. Jean, who moved up by me, will pick me up, so I can be be a part of the gathering. Driving is not always the best for me some days. Besides, we get to share our ride down and back.

We always order the same, except for one. It is a fried egg sandwich with tomato and cheese on whole wheat with a side order of the most delicious potatoes. I always order extra potatoes to go, so Elliot can enjoy them too.

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My Very Own Challenge, 30 Days and Beyond

The latter part of 2017 found me in a state of stagnation with the need to become motivated to move beyond. At first I accepted the challenge to do one watercolor a day for the month of January. While I enjoyed the pen & ink InkTober challenge this past October, the thought of producing 31 watercolors seemed most overwhelming. Watercolor does not come naturally to me. Drawing in pencil and in ink comes much easier. Also, I see so many other areas in my life that need a boost forward….both mental and physical…within myself and also within my immediate environment (my never ending clutter). Hence, my own challenge.

Thirty Days of Creative/Positive Action

This can include something as simple as:

  • A pencil drawing
  • Attempting a watercolor
  • Attacking a section of my backyard
  • Learning how to use the lucet hand loom I created but have not yet bothered to learn how to use!
  • Using the camera of my iPhone 7 Plus
  • Attacking a room or pile of clutter

Do you see the direction I am headed? The year 2016 was a total loss. Then 2017 was like a roller coaster. What I need now in my life is forward movement. Handling stress is not a strong point in my tool chest. It never ceases to amaze me that I survived 10 years as a unit secretary in my local emergency room. Stress overload for sure.

Some other actions can include learning. At 74 years of age, my mental health is important. As noted in an earlier post, January, 2017, brought major changes. Almost overnight, my short term memory practically disappeared! Then balance issues jumped on the bandwagon. These things come and go. It is like riding a roller coaster with each day bringing its own level of challenges regarding these issues for me.

This blog post is one very good positive step. I love sharing my photography and other art ventures. I also like reaching out to others who may be traveling the same path as I am. Oh, I get a few comments and views, but I could get more. I need to learn about how to spread the presence of my blog on the various online media sites. I am often on Twitter. I am a member of LinkedIn. I am on Facebook. As you see I have many options out there.

Please Note: I will be publishing the actual progress made weekly, on Saturday. They will appear on the header under the image at the top of the page!

Posted in being aware, challenges, getting older, healing, iPhone 7Plus, iphoneography, life skills, new directions, Uncategorized, writing | Leave a comment

The Perfect Team

First, this post is not a plea for sympathy. It is being written to demonstrate how this senior of 73 years, has joined forces with the technology of today to battle the challenges that have entered her life. I was going to get this proofread as I am concerned about my grammar etc. but decided to bite the bullet and publish it as is.

At the end of 2013 I had a strange experience. I walked out the door of my son’s house after an early Christmas celebration. Next…I am in the car. There were a good number of cars in the driveway and it was not just a walk of a few feet. I learned later that I had experienced a pontine lacunar infart. It can also be called a ‘silent stroke.’ I do not have any outward paralysis that a stroke commonly brings to the individual.

Not really sure if it had happened at that specific moment or not, but to me it seems likely. For several years all went along smoothly other than becoming extremely exhausted, for no real reason. I have had sleep apnea for many years and have been most faithful in my use of the equipment, but still…my sleep was totally non restorative.

In 2014 I had a sleep study that noted Centrals. According to the Mayo Clinic

Central sleep apnea occurs because your brain doesn’t send proper signals to the muscles that control your breathing. This condition is different from obstructive sleep apnea, in which you can’t breathe normally because of upper airway obstruction. Central sleep apnea is less common than obstructive sleep apnea.

Sad part is that my sleep doctor who gave me the diagnosis did not address this new development in my sleep. What he did do, was to write a script when I asked for one so I could purchase a BIPAP machine. It was this machine that pointed out the extent centrals played in my sleep. I mentioned this to my Respiratory Therapist, Kim Hart, and she knew exactly which machine I needed to fight back. She called her boss and they located a Phillips Respironics 960 ASV in their back room…with my name on it. Luckily I was able to purchase it outright. Undoing the damage from untreated centrals is not an overnight happening. My new sleep doctor believes the centrals are the result of my silent stroke.

The year 2016 was basically a lost year in my life. I existed, functioned the best I could. I also researched centrals and explored the new technology out there. It is amazing! Then 2017 decided to add a very strong new development to my life. My balance is eroding, my short-term memory basically flew out the window!!!!  Then my speech started to be affected in that occasionally I cannot say a word correctly, or I use a word that sounds similar, but is totally wrong in meaning. Also, my ability to concentrate is greatly diminished. What is weird is that all these things are not with me 24/7. It is as if they come in waves.

OK, I am a big fan of APPLE…been one all my life. I love the apps out there, love my iPhone and the many uses it has. Before my concentration lessened, I was going all out doing digital drawing. I bought an iPad Pro along with Apple’s Pencil. What a super combination. The apps available are numerous. Just wish my concentration would stay in place. I do better with drawing when I use colored pencils right now.

Then I saw the games that were created for brain training. Lumosity has been out quite a while. Then I discovered Left vs Right. It is similar and for some reason I am drawn to it more than Lumosity. Another app I used briefly in the past was Brain HQ. I have to say though, I panic whenever they put a game with numbers in front of me. I call myself numerically challenged. My brain freezes whenever it is faced with numbers of any kind. It was my difficulty with studying history, cooking…the list goes on and on!

I went one step further in my relationship with Apple and purchased an Apple Watch. Post-it notes help only so much when you are trying to remember appointments, taking medications etc.. Yes, I have to put it in on my iPhone, but my phone is not always with me. No more couch potato option as this watch tells me to “get up” when I have been sitting too long. I could ignore it, but that is not why I purchased it. For me, the Apple Watch is my tool of choice for fighting back against the unwanted changes that are intruding into my life.

All appointments, reminders for taking meds are put into ‘Reminders.’ I choose the watch face that puts my calendar data on the bottom as well as the day and date. The latter two slip my mind on a regular basis. Those activity circles remind me of the stars I gave my kids when they completed a task. Funny, I am the one now that needs to see that visual of my progress.

Then there is AliveCor. I know about the link between sleep apnea and stroke. It is always there in the back of my mind. I have the earlier version of their iPhone heart ECG monitor. I hope it was just a fluke, but an A-Fib reading occurred recently, otherwise I am normal through and through. Just recently I was able to share this with someone who has a heart condition and through her iPhone, the Kardia Mobile is now able to follow her heart rhythms.

My game plan is to use my Apple Watch, my iPhone, iPad in all the ways possible to try to stimulate my brain, to encourage new pathways for those blood vessels in my brain stem, so they regenerate and get stronger. Oh, I am doing stuff the old-fashioned way too. My daily walk, taking photographs of the wonders of nature, restarting my wood carving. I set up my vise out under the palm trees in my back yard. The one thing I have not been good at is practicing my scales on that electric keyboard along with the metronome. Technology is good, but so is music when it comes to mental stimulation.

Hopefully, my game plan will help me find more balance, both physically and mentally, looking forward with a positive attitude…knowing I have done what I could, with the tools available to me. It is a challenge, but fascinating. That may seem a contradiction, but years ago I would never have discovered my problems, nor had the many options to solve them, The world of sleep apnea is basically a new field with more becoming known daily. No, I was not depressed!!!!! Depression was the label given me years ago. The knowledge of how we can strengthen our mental functioning is also a new field.

The world is not always the way it seems…as seen in the photo below

upsidedown.sm

Posted in being aware, challenges, getting older, healing, Health, iphone, modern techology, moving forward in life, new directions | 3 Comments

Dreams and Challenges of Life

8-10-14_super moonHow many through the ages have looked up at the moon and dreamt of exploring its surface. Long before the telescope people would look and wonder about the moon. Well, that dream persisted and in 1969 it finally happened. Dreams are an important part of our life. They may not be as grand as landing on the moon, but achieving that GED or getting your driver’s license, having a child, to some is just as monumental.

I once had a dream of becoming successful as a photographer. It did not happen quite as I would have liked, but I learned quite a bit along the way. On my journey I did have two showings at the Backus Gallery in Fort Pierce, Florida. The image on the right is a collage of old wheels that sold on the first night of one showing. The magnolia is one of a set of magnolias images.

Caught in the Gears of Setting Up

Full Cycle

To me, those showings were monumental successes. The area I fell flat on was marketing. As with most creative individuals, the creating part was and is strong. The ‘busy work knowledge,’ that which makes it all come about… was most lacking.

I did go to SCORE as well as an IRS class to learn how to set my business up. That part was OK. It was the going out and selling myself, making people aware of my work.  This is still difficult for me to do. I had a set of cards I sold through my website. What I failed to do was to get my cards into stores…book stores, gift shops etc.. Most important of all, I did not know about networking.

Now, photography is something I do for enjoyment. In an earlier post I spoke of discovering iPhoneography. Yes, it is super, but there are times I still need my old faithful Canon Rebel. My small cactus vine had been blooming yearly for a while, but the big fat vine that wove itself up into the top of a cabbage palm did not seem to be interested in blooming at all. What you must realize is that these blossoms only bloom at night, one night! When daylight comes they fold.

Then I saw it. The image of the bud was taken with my iPhone, but the pair of blossoms itself were taken with my Rebel using a telephoto lens. They were 20 feet up and no match for my iPhone when it came to getting a sharp image. As it was, I held a spot light in one hand and rested my telephoto lens on top of that while holding the camera in my other hand. Auto focus was all I could manage. Each bloom was over 12 inches long!

selenicus grandiflorus

Night Blooming Cereus Bud

 

It is through my love of nature, capturing it via my photography, that I keep going right now. Getting older is a whole new ballgame for me. My agility, energy level and more, are being challenged every day. Now I totally understand why I would see seniors shake themselves a little when they stood up after sitting a long time.

Looking forward to having a ‘rotor router’ job on my sinuses. My anxiety level is high. I use the beauty of nature around me to bring it down. I read books with happy endings. I have a great doctor doing the re-sculpturing of my sinuses and I get to visit my daughter and her family in the process. Couldn’t ask for a better combination!

 

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