Lullaby Storm

This evening brought a long and softly-rolling thunder storm to our home. A long-awaited simple pleasure, I turned off every sound-making machine, opened every window that was not rain-facing and turned off any unnecessary lighting. And then I immersed in the deep reverberation of the storm as is slowly and gently, passed through.

This evening brought a long and softly-rolling thunder storm to our home. A long-awaited simple pleasure, I turned off every sound-making machine, opened every window that was not rain-facing and turned off any unnecessary lighting. And then I immersed in the deep reverberation of the storm as is slowly and gently, passed through.
 
There is a reason every relaxation soundtrack has a thunderstorm in the soundscape list: This is nature’s lullaby telling everything near it to pause, cover and be at rest.

Fury’s Journey (Summer 2022)

It has been a while since I have posted about Fury our four and a half year old feline fur family member. She has been a gem for the last few years. Our daily days are full of cuddles, naps, zoomies and the “could care less” sass and attitude cats are known for. After the first 1-2 years we were not quite sure what quality of life lay ahead for this sweet gal we adopted from the local shelter.

It has been a while since I have posted about Fury our four and a half year old feline fur family member. She has been a gem for the last few years. Our daily days are full of cuddles, naps, zoomies and the “could care less” sass and attitude cats are known for. After the first 1-2 years we were not quite sure what quality of life lay ahead for this sweet gal we adopted from the local shelter.

Since our earlier updates from 2018 and 2019, her feline Ehlers Danlos condition has been a severity that we can manage well: She still has very stretchy skin and more of it than is typical for her frame. Fortunately she is not as bad as some other cases where there is noticeable sagging around the face or eyes, and for this we are grateful. Given the other conditions, I would venture this one is the least impactful and you cannot even tell she has extra skin when seeing her from a distance. You can see the difference when we have grooming time and she tries to lick her chest or arms; she struggles to release the fur from her tongue because extra amount of skin allows it to stretch outwards.

Booping the DVD tray when it slides in and out of the player.

With the feline hyperesthesia (or “twitchy back syndrome”), she occasionally still has spontaneous moments that neurological triggers will cause her back muscles to twitch, giving her momentary discomfort and a desire to scratch at herself. There is still no cure for this condition shared by many types of animals, but we are thankful these moments pass in seconds or minutes. We have learned to best soothe her in these occurrences by letting her curl into a ball and by wrapping our arms around her for warmth and security and she tends to relax right away, helping to make the twitches disappear more quickly.

My office manager overseeing desktop operations.

Fury still has vasculitis that has resulted in diminished pain and bleeding when she does experience self injuries. This means that just because there is not a lot of blood does not mean it is not serious and we look twice to be sure. We learned from the past that she will often scratch at a wound over and over having no idea she is causing herself further damage (and thus the cone and safety shirt is critical for the rest of her life). Some people ask if we have tried inflatable doughnut cones: Yes and they are adorable and offer some comfort in ways, but she can still reach around them with her back claws and nick her ears, so this cone is the best fit to offer her max safety and comfort.

We know it’s always sad to see any animal in a cone. But Fury has grown up in hers and regularly has it removed several times a day for snuggle time and monitored grooming.

Lounging on a heating pad on a cold day (very lowest setting).

We never did solve the question around if Fury has an officially confirmed allergy that may contribute to her propensity to watch to scratch her head and neck to the point of self injury. Two or three years ago, we did run a full blood work up to check everything possible. While we did get several likely suspects, we stopped the lab work at that time since she had been through a lot and it was not as medically-necessary as the other issues we were dealing with. We keep her away from the suspected allergy causes just in case (certain grasses, trees, etc.) If our vets ever decide it is worth it to re-visit, we would, but we are all about only exposing Fury to procedures that are necessary for the near future.

Morning post-treat playtime antics.

All Fury knows is that twice a day, she gets wet food that is very tasty for accepting two small squirts of medication. That mix of medication keeps her in a place of balance that allows her to experience less awareness of the conditions that she has. The prior idiopathic seizures she began to have in years 1-2 have also gone away and are managed by her medication as well.

We still get woken up every morning without fail to ensure no one forgets breakfast time. There is also zero confusion when her furry highness wishes to go outside for a walk (the entire house is informed). She has her pick of cat trees, a bucket of cat toys, window beds and the best food and treats. Basically it’s her home, we just pay the mortgage.

Humor aside, Fury gives us unconditional love and loyalty every single day. It humbles us that this small creature was given the short end of the stick in so many ways yet still loves these lumbering caregivers despite all that has happened to her. We owe her so much in return and we will keep trying to give her our best every day. We look forward to sharing more photos and stories in the future!

My Smallest Orchid Yet

Taking a leap, for the first time I ordered a very young yellow pine orchid (gastrochilus japonicus) and had it shipped to my home. The process was very simple and quick, with the young orchid arriving safely packaged in newspaper and a double plastic pot healthy and growing.

Yellow pine orchid on arrival.

Taking a leap, for the first time I ordered a very young yellow pine orchid (gastrochilus japonicus) and had it shipped to my home. The process was very simple and quick, with the young orchid arriving safely packaged in newspaper and a double plastic pot healthy and growing.

Surprise! More roots than I suspected.

Since then, I have nervously been watching its progress as it acclimates here. We live in an extremely dry climate and despite running humidifiers 24/7, often my new orchids lose their aerial roots until they re-establish in a potting medium where I add more sphagnum moss to help with moisture retention. Most take a few weeks or months but send out new aerial roots thereafter.

My “make do” baby orchid nursery on my standing desk.

This tiny pine orchid has been pampered with daily root misting, fertilizer and a prime real estate location near a window and under an LED lamp where I can keep an eye on it. And still, it’s a battle to keep those roots silvery green and plump. Not knowing what losing any roots might mean to a such a small orchid, I have really been keen to see this small plant get started with as many intact as possible.

Blooms are coming!

Last week, I was overjoyed to see budding blooms appearing earlier than expected. The description of the shipped order indicated it might be 2-3 years before the plant was mature enough to produce flowers but it appears luck is shining on this tiny orchid as flowers are definitely on the way. Once it completes the blooming process, it will get a shiny new pot and medium all its own next. This one will be a joy to care for!

Book Review: Where the Crawdads Sing

Did you ever find yourself excited to hear that a favorite book was being made into a movie? Movies can only cover maybe two hours of plot versus the longer read or audio listen of the original work. But if you fell in love with the book, hearing that a movie is coming is encouraging and hopeful, because the original printed work was just that good.

This edition I found from Barnes & Noble has beautiful artwork and detail.

Did you ever find yourself excited to hear that a favorite book was being made into a movie? Movies can only cover maybe two hours of plot versus the longer read or audio listen of the original work. But if you truly fell in love with the book, hearing that a movie is coming is exciting. Where the Crawdads Sing is a treasure of a book I enjoyed two years ago and is movie-bound next. I’m crossing my fingers it does the author’s work justice.

Occasionally a movie will miss the mark due to acting or screenwriting (which will rarely satisfies the following of literary fans). We want to see every last moment and word of dialogue. Yet I am cautiously holding out hope that Where the Crawdads Sing will hopefully rise to the high bar set by author Delia Owens.

This novel took the literary community by storm after it was published in 2018. The now famous sun-toned cover was getting mentioned in friends’ social media feeds as their beach books of choice or as a new “discovery read” that surprised readers as to how impactful it was. I began to be intrigued by the book when I started hearing how friends crowed on social media that it was the best read they had enjoyed in a long time. One almost could not help it but to get a copy to see what all the fuss was about (an author’s best advertising, no doubt). So, in 2020, I bought my first copy via Audible. A year later, it still was resonating with me and I listened to it again. And as is my practice when I am taken with a work this much, I buy a printed copy.

Owens takes the reader on a wonder-filled journey for the mind and spirit. The book paints vivid imagery of an Audubon-painted marsh home of a naturalist’s dreams. Once started into the first few chapters, our minds want us to be there in our imaginations. We follow the main character, Kya, through a coming-of-age story, but this story has teeth that make you hurt for, cheer for and believe in the determined spirit of survivors and thrivers. Kya’s resilient personality, born of struggle, inspires the reader forward through each chapter despite obstacles that are common to our society regardless of past or present.

It is a beautiful experience to read this book. Even if you just read it once, it will stay with you in the way the good books do.

Storm Comin’

Yesterday brought an interesting storm front just south of our home that made for curious cloud watching from our front yard.

Yesterday brought an interesting storm front just south of our home that made for curious cloud watching from our front yard. Our location here in southeast Wyoming has the uncanny ability to see most storms break north or south of us, more often than not. That said, we do get walloped a few times each year, but we fair well with mainly just a few hail storms versus other surrounding areas, typically.

This time of year will see storms coming through more regularly until winter settles in. Until then, we will enjoy the cloud watching, remain prepared and remember that mother nature is not to be trifled with.

Book Review: Code Name: Lise

I started and finished Code Name: Lise this month and am still coming to terms with the gravitas of reading it and it boggles the mind this is a true story. I made it to the middle and laid the hardcopy down on my nightstand to sleep. However, the fate of the main characters wouldn’t let me rest until I finished it.

I started and finished Code Name: Lise this month and am still coming to terms with the gravitas of reading it. This book boggles the mind that is is a true story. Late at night, I had arrived at the middle and laid the hardcopy down on my nightstand to sleep. However, the fate of the main character wouldn’t let me rest until I finished it. Back on went the lamp and I continued on until nearly midnight to see it through.

Now that I have finished the read, I still feel a small lump in my throat thinking back on it. This is my first Larry Loftis book and I am really impressed at his ability to craft a gripping tale and robustly source it to high standards.  Odette Sansom’s name should be a part of World War II in history classes and when the history of secret services are discussed. Not just because she is a woman doing what was predominately a man’s job then, but because of her rare courage and success in a role that offered equal risk and danger to both genders.

-Summary-

Like many families having witnessed World War I, Odette Sansom possesses a perspective of living one’s life with honor and duty. Despite having a plethora of reasons to not involve herself in the war as a Frenchwoman living in Britain, she courageously ventures forward into the role of a secret agent against the enemy.

Despite being a woman, a mother, a wife and a civilian, she bravely takes on every assignment sent her with abandon. As her role requires the reliance on and use of relationships of all types, Code Name: Lise follows a web of individuals that become part of Odette’s story as she fights to win and later survive. The odds stacked so high as the story progresses, it is the kind of story few can fathom actually happening to a regular person. But such was the tale for many in war.

The full spectrum of the human experience is within the covers of Code Name: Lise: Love, honor, bravery, motherhood, war, leadership, luck, conflict, fear, world history and the will to survive on one’s own terms. Odette’s journey covers a geography and duration of insurmountable odds that defy expectations. Many accounts from World War II are raw and uncomfortable due to the atrocities of the worst of humanity, and Code Name: Lise is no different. But stories like these should be read, should be known and the lives of everyone who experienced them should be remembered generations later

Terminal Orchid Blooms

Orchid bloom alert! Earlier I posted here about a phalaenopsis orchid I purchased from a local store that had an odd leaf structure, which I later realized was a terminal orchid. And voila, she bloomed after all. In fact, this one bloomed so large and so fully, that I’ve had to stake the plant three times to continue to support the weight of all those blooms!

Orchid bloom alert! Earlier I posted here about a phalaenopsis orchid I purchased from a local store that had an odd leaf structure, which I later realized was a terminal orchid. And voila, she bloomed after all. In fact, this one bloomed so large and so fully, that I’ve had to stake the plant three times to continue to support the weight of all those blooms!

I’m not sure yet if I will try the methodology of using a growth paste for orchids to try to generate a keiki, but for now I’ll just enjoy the gift of blooms for as long as they last. I’m watching those additional blooms to come to see if I might have to add still additional support to hold this heavy spike up as the remaining blooms open.

Blog Spring Cleaning

Photo by Negative Space from Pexels

For the past week, I’ve embarked on what was envisioned to be a tidy-up of the blog site here and maybe a few tweaks. This ultimately resulted in a move to a different server, a change from WordPress.com to WordPress.org, and a theme template overhaul. Having not done any of this since 2015 (and some of it, never before), it was more of a project than I bargained for.

This new blog theme will use featured posts and excerpts on the main page. Since my prior template didn’t offer this option, the prior posts might look at little bare until the next few are added to continue the trend.

But here we, shiny and new! Thanks for your patience as I work out the last few kinks.

The Book and Bee – Hendersonville, NC

Tea and literary lovers unite, there is a food temple for our people in Hendersonville, North Carolina! On my last trip to the Tarheel state, my mother had been telling me about this little gathering place that served the most delicious meals and was buzzing with interest from the locals: It’s called The Book and Bee.

We arrived with the first snowflakes for brunch.

My mother, my sister, my niece and I decided to venture out in the cold to have a ladies’ brunch before the forecasted snow arrived that day. The fellas? They went to a hot dog restaurant, naturally. The flakes were starting to fall as we drove the short distance to the restaurant. Having seen the parking lot packed the day before, we got there early.

The stairs catch your eye right away like a beacon to bookworms everywhere: Come in, take a load off and be with your own kind. Being a warm-blooded creature though, I didn’t beat around the bush: I took the picture of the stairs and quickly navigated indoors.

The food smells were heavenly and the entire place is decorated with, and serving beverages from, teapots and tea cups galore.

The grilled cheese served with fruit and peach tea.

You may or may not be the biggest fan of tea served from actual china tea cups, but there is something cozy, maybe even a little magical, about sitting down with your gal pals (or buds) and being served your own personal pot of tea, complete with warmer, and little bee hive honey containers. All that was missing was my own personal recliner with a lamp and a pile of books by the fireplace in their main dining room. And yes, there is a big fireplace.

The Book and Bee is definitely not a gimmick eatery garnering interest on the décor and marketing alone. I ordered a grilled cheese and it was divine. I mean! I was admittedly and hopelessly lost in my own world of peachy warm tea, yummy mixed cheeses grilled perfectly on fresh bread along with fresh fruit.

Bookmark this one for me, I’m coming back on my next return trip.

And I’m ordering the grilled cheese.

Admin Update

Life By Lens and Laptop will be moving to new hosting servers and from WordPress.com to WordPress.org. I will be taking the opportunity to perform maintenance tasks as well during that time. Hopefully no significant downtime will result and you will not notice any disruption. If you find the site offline unexpectedly, your patience is appreciated.