Physical Therapy – To Be Or Not To Be

yellow tulip Lately I’ve been feeling a bit like this frazzled yellow tulip! Pain does that.

I went to see the doctor last week, and we talked about where I was with putting my health back together again. The thyroid situation seems to have stabilized, other mysterious things continue to go wrong, but–I seem to be doing a bit better at handling them.

Now I need exercise and to lose weight.

This tulip kind of looks like it's exercising, doesn't it?

This tulip looks like it’s exercising-doesn’t it?

But even though I’m doing better at keeping my S/I joint “in” (the physical therapist says this is not the right term for it, but won’t give me a better one), I’m having a lot of issues with pain that seem to be related to lack of adequate muscle support for my back.

I can’t exercise effectively without correcting this lack.

We agreed that I should try physical therapy once more.

Today I had my second physical therapy visit. I’ve been doing the exercises (YAY! I can do them now!), and I really want to work with her, but–there’s a hitch. Now we’re waiting on approval for the physical therapy.

purple and white tulipsSo I don’t know when I’ll get to go back. Please pray for me, that I can stick with the physical therapy exercises, and that approval will come through quickly. I can’t tell you how badly that S/I joint hurts some days, but–I can assure that it’s really really awful at times!

And hey, thanks so much for praying! I really appreciate it.

A Life Well-Lived Despite The Pain

Lilacs from the UNL ArboretumI’m currently coming off another round with the mother of all headaches. I don’t get one of these too often, but when I do…YOWZA! I feel like one of those MOAB bombs exploded in the back on my head and took everything with it!

Do you know what that feels like? Does it ever happen to you?

I know I inflicted this pain on myself too, but I’m not entirely sure how. Was it caused or contributed to by the all the exercise I did over the weekend, cleaning for company and planting lots of spring flowers? Did I trigger it by going to the Arboretum and taking photos of the (very) fragrant lilacs on what proved to be a somewhat windy day? Was something I ate responsible for this?

Lil' Stinker kitty enjoying the fresh air and the new flowers in the window boxes

I planted 3 window boxes, 3 or 4 pots, and one raised bed after we cleaned house Saturday. Here’s Lil’ Stinker enjoying the fresh air and flowers in the window boxes.

Or was it caused by some combination of the above or by all of the above getting together and having a wild thumping party in my skull?

I’m not sure. I only know that by yesterday morning, extreme fatigue had set in, and eventually my skull started split…

I’m not sorry for doing any of these things I’ve mentioned, you understand: a girl’s gotta eat and exercise, after all–and even though I do try to be very careful most of the time, when there’s company I let my guard down and do things I usually don’t, just because.

I’m especially not sorry I got all that exercise! Not even when my back was screaming blue murder at me was I sorry–

more lilacsAnd I’m most especially NOT sorry I took photos of lilacs!

I love flowers, and I love spending time with family at the Arboretum. It’s one of my favorite places.

Pain is a part of life. Paying for living by spending a day in bed every so often with the mother of all headaches, while miserable and nasty, and so not what I ever want to do with my day, seems to occasionally be a necessity–if I want to actually live and enjoy life.

I’d love to draw a spiritual truth into this from the Bible. I’m sure you could think of a few! Unfortunately, being on the tail end of this kind of headache makes it hard to connect certain types of dots. Maybe I’ll remember tomorrow and add to this post? And maybe I won’t!

And I wonder–because I doubt that I’m alone in this–what makes your life well-lived even when you pay for that living with pain?

Adventures In Sewing A Prom Dress

Lil' Stinker 'helping' me sew

Lil’ Stinker ‘helping’ me sew

Back in January, my daughter messaged me with a link to a most incredible dress–and said that was the dress she wanted for prom!

We both knew that there wasn’t any way that we’d be able to afford the dress in the store, and there were issues with the design that we agreed needed to be addressed if she was going to wear it. She wanted a different styling to the back and neckline, and she didn’t want quite so very many rhinestones!

AND…we decided to make this dress! Oh, what an adventure we have embarked on!

Four layers of the skirt so far

Four layers of the skirt so far

First, we had difficulty acquiring the fabric we wanted in the width and color we needed. We finally settled on a pale lavender organza and matching satin. We may add in a layer of pink organza too, but only if it looks good when we start assembling the layers…

There are a LOT of layers! At least six or seven just for the skirt, and at least three, possibly four for the bodice! (crazy, right?)

See that panel of styrofoam on the wall behind me in the picture below?

I had to find a space large enough to lay out the pieces, and a way to cut them out without dislocating my S/I joint. So–we secured two panels of styrofoam insulation on the wall using Command Strips.

Me, happy to be sewing

Me, happy to be sewing

And THEN came the real kicker: how to keep Lil’ Stinker from using the styrofoam to sharpen his claws and from chomping on it! (he likes the sound it makes)

We’ve pinned large fabric pieces to it, and piled heavy stuff along the bottom to keep him from pulling them off. We aren’t sure that we’re done cutting fabric…yet, or we’d just throw the styrofoam panels away.

Oh, and see that toilet paper? Organza is impossible to sew without some kind of stabilizer. And with so very much organza to sew, I would have broken my piggy bank on just the stabilizer! On the advice of a good friend who’s great at sewing, I bought a small package of cheap toilet paper instead. It’s working very well!

Organza hem stabilized with toilet paper

Organza hem stabilized with toilet paper

Maria has been very involved with this project too! She’s spent hours ironing the fabric pieces and helping me pin.

Steps left to complete:

  • Sewing the last couple of individual layers for the skirt, plus the layers of the bodice
  • Soaking the layers to remove what’s left of our cheap version of stabilizer (and drying)
  • Adding the rhinestones to the top layer of the bodice
  • Assembling the dress
  • Adding the zipper
  • Soaking one more time to remove any last bits of stabilizer
  • A final pressing

We’ve still got a lot to do, but it sounds like more than it really is at this point. We’ve got a little over a month until she needs to wear it. We’ll get ‘er done!

I had to buy at least twice as much lavender organza (I was bargain shopping) to acquire enough to make the dress. If you’re in the market for fifteen yards, let me know! (We’ve got a lot to spare now)

Our World’s Climate Is Not Under Our Control

An average of sixty volcanic eruptions occur every year around the globe

An average of sixty volcanic eruptions occur every year around the globe

The mainstream media has been going nuts this week because the new head of the EPA doesn’t believe that free carbon has any effect on climate change!

There are a lot of different factors that come into play to create the climate we enjoy on our world.

Volcanism and plate tectonics have a very powerful influence on our world’s climate!

Plate tectonics map showing Mid Atlantic Ridge

Click to see larger view

Every so often, the seam running through the Atlantic (the Mid Atlantic Ridge) from the North Pole down almost to Antarctica oozes lava.

Then there’s the Ring of Fire in the Pacific (I was raised on the Ring of Fire: the ground there is NEVER still).

There are volcanic hot spots all over our world! Hot spots contribute a lot of warmth to our world, and they have other interesting effects:

A strong volcanic eruption is capable of putting out many times the amount of smoke and ash, and poisonous fumes–in an incredibly short time–as the total pollution load generated by all of mankind in a year.

In any given year, there is an average of sixty volcanic eruptions! That is a whale of a lot of ash, smoke, and toxic fumes added to the air we breathe every year!

While I personally would prefer to do without all the smoke and toxic fumes, particulates from volcanic activity contribute to cloud formation and provide a catalyst for moisture droplet formation (without which, there would be no rain or other precipitation).

Solar mechanics also has a very powerful influence on our climate.

Take for instance the wobble in the earth’s orbit caused by opposing forces of gravity exerted by the sun and other planets.

When we wobble a little closer to the sun than usual, our planet grows warmer. Wobble a little further away, and temps cool…

The interaction of solar magnetism with the earth’s magnetic field. Magnets generate electricity and heat. Really large magnets can create a lot of heat! The sun and the earth both have strong magnetic fields, as do other planets in our solar system.

There’s a possibility, given the statistical rise of temps observed on planets throughout the solar system in recent history, that there are forces at work involving solar magnetism that scientists haven’t accounted for and don’t understand.

And what about the effect of sun spots and solar flares? The more sun spots, the hotter the fusion going on in the sun’s core. The fewer there are, the cooler it is. Sometimes the fusion stops altogether for a while, then starts again.

We’ve had cooler periods in history since the invention of the telescope that correlate to an observed lack of sun spots. Right now there are some sun spots, but not as many as in some previous eras.

AND…average temps for the past twenty years have been stable!

I mention all this to point out that there are huge natural forces driving the cycle of heating and cooling that our world is subject to. Most of them aren’t under anyone’s control, nor will they ever be!

Nor have they been properly accounted for when considering factors that play into any kind of climate change, including global warming.

We need to be realists about all of this, and not place unreasonable expectations on people to control the uncontrollable.

Aren’t you glad that God has our climate under His control? I sure am!

In my Legends of Astarkand series, there are volcanoes. The book I’m working on right now takes Bjorn past a volcanic hot spot, the Windmere. The Windmere fills a volcanic crater. Slippe Island is what is left of an ash cone from a long ago eruption.

Click here to purchase Bjorn’s previous adventures.

Deep Government And The Thousand Year Bloodbath

Fresco of St. Constantine and St. Helena

Those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it.

What do you remember from your school history classes about the Byzantine Empire? Anything?

If you’re of Greek extraction, you’re probably proud that the empire lasted for over a thousand years.

If you aren’t Greek, it’s possible that you might vaguely recall that the Byzantine Empire came into being when the Roman Emperor Constantine established a second capitol in Constantinople (which is Istanbul, Turkey today). Eventually the cultural and political divides became large enough that the empire split in two.

You may even say, “Byzantine–what? And why is this important?”

Oh, good question!

The Byzantine Empire adopted the Roman legal structure and system of government  because they considered themselves (at least at the outset) to be a continuation of the Roman empire, albeit no longer worshiping the pagan Roman/Greek pantheon of gods, or emperor-gods (like mad Nero), but instead the state religion became Christianity.

The ruins of Yedikule Hisarları (Seven Towers Fortress) in Istanbul, Turkey with modern high rises in the background

Unfortunately, because of political infighting, the vast majority of the Byzantine emperors after Constantine the Great were murdered or died in prison after being overthrown. Few of them died in their beds. In many cases, their entire families were murdered along with them!

The office of Emperor went from being a post awarded by merit or heredity (or both), to being a bloody political prize awarded to the most violent of men! The empire succumbed to rot from within and eventually became too weak to protect its borders from invaders.

Fast-forward from the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453 A.D., to the founding of the United States of America:

Our country’s founders looked back across history, and–being well-read, they understood all too well the rise and fall of the great civilizations that had gone before them. They wanted our government to be secure and stable. They understood that they needed to make the office of president strong enough to allow a president to fulfill his duties, but also balance it out with limitations on his power, and with powers granted to the other two branches and also to the states, to limit the ability of a president to become a tyrant or dictator, or even worse, an emperor.

This wasn’t just because it’s healthier for us as citizens to have our rights safeguarded from tyranny, but because it is also far, far safer for our nation’s presidents if they aren’t perceived as occupying a plum position of strength that can be taken and held by a bloody show of force!

Fast-forward to recent events:

President Barack Obama

Obama was elected and served for two terms. In our nation’s history, no other president has been able to enact or implement social programs on the scale that Obama did. Also our nation’s debt approached $21 Trillion before the end of his presidency. The tax and regulatory burdens left behind, especially in the form of the Affordable Care Act, are also unprecedented in scale and scope.

All of this led to the frustration and anger of voters, who flocked to the polls to elect Donald Trump!

All previous presidents have left Washington, D.C., and found hobbies or other interests to occupy their time outside of the political arena. While they might occasionally appear to fund raise for candidates for office, they have made a deliberate decision not to interfere in their successors’ governing.

But not Obama!

He says he wants to protect his legacy. He’s made it clear he wants to undermine Trump’s ability to govern.

But he doesn’t understand the lessons of history, and why we are all safer and much better off, including him and his family, when FORMER PRESIDENTS DON’T DO THAT.

He’s forgotten the lessons our nation’s founding fathers learned from the history of the Byzantine Empire about how not to create a thousand year bloody free-for-all for positions of power!

And sadly, even if anyone explained it to him, I doubt that he would care.

Author’s Note: Because I write fantasy, the history of the Byzantine era is a treasure trove of really neat stuff for me: like the candidate for empress who nixed her chances by saying the wrong thing and wound up a nun, and the ‘throne of Solomon.’ I also believe in the time-tested maxim that those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it.

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