November 26, 2017

Martha O'Kennon

We have had two more typical cold, dark and wet November weeks, Although I am feeling steadier on my feet, once I get outside to the side of the blue shop, I find that the bugs must have been sitting underground with their feet near the fire. But we did have some, and even though they are the loyal ones you may have seen too often already, here they are. The euonymus, which was near or just past full display last week, is now quite sparse. Down the street, here is the red oak tree that was so small when it was just planted about 20 years ago, now in its tall and gloriously red coloring. The weather must have been very agreeable to it, as some years it is much less red. That's the same tree I used for fodder for my Polyphemus moth caterpillars just a few years back.

Remember that there is information in the name of the file for each image. You can see it by mousing over the image - look at the lower left of the screen. Or you can click on the image to get to the (usually) larger image. Then the info is displayed in the address line above. Sometimes the second click will actually display a different view of the original image.

OK. This time I'm not going to hide the details inside a piece of narrative. On Friday, October 28, I had a headache which seemed just like those sinus headaches that hurt in the back of the head. I got up a bit after noon and the headache was gone. I did the usual things around the house but though that maybe my usual double vision, which is helped by the bit of "prism" my ophthalmologist puts into my glasses prescriptions, was a bit stronger that day. I spent quite a bit of time in my room, making some cards. Saturday and Sunday, I didn't notice much wrong. I don't spend my weekends looking at my face in the mirror. So it was Monday when I was attending an AALL (our local "U3A" (University of the Third Age as they say in S.A. English) classes for senior citizens) and while sipping my beloved coffee noticed that some was dribbling out of the left side of my mouth.

By now, nobody had noticed the left side facial paralysis and I thought the worst it could be was Bell's Palsy. Since I didn't feel up to driving myself to Chelsea (about 35 miles from Albion), I had (I thought)to wait till Thursday to see my PCP. She agreed that it LOOKED like Bell's but didn't like the double vision so I got an appt to see a neurologist on Monday... So much for calling 911 at the first sign of a stroke. On Monday, I met with the neurologist, also in Chelsea, and got the shocking news that I seemed to have had a brain stem stroke. The only symptoms were still a wild double vision. It was worse when I was turning right. Everything on the right eye image was stretched and bent over as if to fall on me. I got a scrip for Physical Therapy for the eye and for balance, which hasn't been great in a long time. I've now had three out of ten meetings with the PT squad.

My friends who look up things told me that many if not most people who get a brain stem stroke end up paralysed or dead so I probably should be into the Survivor's Guilt phase, but I'm too glad to be alive. The symptoms - double vision, left face paralysis, taste, balance etc seem to have peaked within two weeks and are gradually getting better. The dribble effect had another bad ramification. For two weeks, I couldn't get my embouchure set for playing flute. I kept the flute by my bed and tried it out every once in a while. One day I found I could suddenly make a tiny sound and that has been improving, so I can now do some of the things I get a lot of pleasure out of. Needles to say, I haven't been out to the shop to do any wood-cutting. What a good sensible girl I've suddenly started being.

Well, now everyone knows, and knows how very very lucky I seem to have been, luckier than I deserve, says my PCP. Another piece of good luck is having been able to quit smoking back in 1970 after many many tries!

Thanks to all the people who have given me rides to Chelsea and Jackson and checked in on me and sent cards and went out to eat with me. One of my student friends has made sure I got safely to college activities, and so zillions of thanks to her. I've kept connected with things that really matter to me. And that's one of the most important parts of recovery! Now to make contact with the bug front again.

This "tiger barklouse" (also known as Graphopsocus cruciatus) has appeared each year since (and including) 2015. The reddish one is another barklouse, going by the shape of the wings. This third one is another barklouse, dead for several days now, and not easy to identify.

Here are three different-looking Lady Beetles - they tend to take on all sorts of colors. But if you count the number and shape of the spots, they look like two different species. The third one is retracting its wing.

What would an autumn afternoon be without a few box elder bugs? But the third bug here is a damsel bug and I haven't seen them for some time. But here is one from December 13, 2015.

Here is another dirt-colored seed bug, which we saw for the first time this year in last week's blog. And a dark stink bug, which doesn't look quite right for a "brown marmolated stink bug", our villain of the year.... Finally we have one of the case creatures. Still no clue who they are. But here is a so-called Thanksgiving cactus, dragging its feet a bit, perhaps wishing to be a Christmas cactus. This picture was from November 20 and it did bloom on November 26!

I don't know about you, but if I were judging the Ugliest Fly Contest, I might give this first fly either a blue or red ribbon. The other two are both tiny black flies, and I can't tell what they are. Although my eyes are beginning to work better, I still have trouble focusing on things this small. Did I mention that now, about a month after my stroke, my eyes are working better together (I'm getting PT for that and for balance, which is still pretty spotty)? I am not afraid to turn a corner now for fear of some large door falling on me.

How are you at crossing your eyes to view an almost stereo pair of photos? This pair are presented with the right eye image on the left and the left eye image on the right. So when you cross your eyes you'll see the right eye image with your right eye, and the left eye image with your left. Hint: first try to fuse the two bed posters. You may find that as you move your eyes from the poster to the door and back, you have to re-fuse the images. That's where I still am. But I'm still working on finding a pair that give more of the strangeness that I was seeing for the first two weeks and is slowly improving. I'm best at fusing when the object is straight ahead of me. But I had great news from my eye doctor on Tuesday. He said I could expect to keep improving for another couple of months.

Since your eyes are already crossed, here are some images around the house possible because most of the windows are double-hung glass. The first is not spider webs but moir&‚ÄĆeacute; patterns in the window glass. The next two show the images caused by the two panes in the front porch. Third is a reflection of my house in my neighbor's window.

Some harvestmen and NOT all reddish! It seems some of the other color combos (such as these black and tan ones) are back in vogue. The third one, a bit out of focus, still shows the reddish decorations around the edges.

Sue Farley found this mantis on her wall - it was already dead. It made me think of one I found in the fall in Virginia when I was a child. It was shivering as if it were cold. I tried to warm it but the shivering went on for an hour or so and then suddenly stopped. It was the first time I ever saw something actually die, and the first time I realized that it happens to each creature at a certain time. By this time, it would have done its job of mating and laying its eggs or if it was a male, of mating and surviving the big feast we are told always happens. This looper is still looping along.

Sorry, spider lovers. I only found a lot of Common House Spiders this week. Since I don't like going down my basement stairs, I haven't ever catalogued the kinds of spiders that may be down there. So outdoor spiders is what you get! Soon I hope to find a couple of winter-loving orbweavers. Yes, that's right. The humpbacked orbweaver and the green long-jawed orbweaver are most commonly seen by me in the winter. Just so you'll have something to look forward to, here are a hump-backed orbweaver and a green long-jawed orbweaver, both taken in January of this year. The only one I've seen any other time was a green long-jawed orbweaver which showed up later in the spring. It likes to live in the spruce tree that overhangs the shop, and apparently the rest of the year it is most likely seen there and not on the shop itself. Of course its camouflage would preclude my seeing it in the spruce.

I'll leave you with this image of the shadows of the euonymus beside the shop on a sunny afternoon.

Hope to see you soon!!


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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2017