When I taught high school biology I had a sign over the door of my classroom that said “Biology is Life”. (I also had a poster with a picture of Charles Darwin and a caption that said “AP Biology: Adapt, Migrate or Die”, but that is another story…) Anyway, I thought my sign over the door was cute. And true.
This week I finally took on the task of weeding out my flower beds and getting them ready for the new year. Really, a simple and somewhat rewarding task, but for me an afternoon of rich classroom memories and an endless rush of biological trivia. It was so much fun, in fact, I thought I’d take all of you on a short trip through my garden. Ready? Here we go!
Rich with life, details and memories, my gardens are once again growing.
It is March in Colorado, which means we are in the midst of endless weather adventure. This last week we experienced a march of weather fronts that came through the state with wind, wind, and more wind. It was sunny but still miserable for cats and people.
I was pretty miserable myself. Usually my joints are OK, but this week all of my tendons took to hurting. Gee, there are a lot of tendons in a human body! Not only did my hands and wrists hurt, but so did my knees, hips, feet… well, pretty much if it moves, it hurt. I finally had to resort to pain killers and spent a lot of time in bed this week.
That’s right, it is now spring. We are in for weeks of chaotic weather, but the plants will be coming back to life, the birds will be arriving soon, and I can’t help but be happy. Today my hands feel fine, I’m going to heat up some soup for dinner using my new bowl holders, and then I have a beautiful shawl to knit.
It turns out that this was a pretty good week after all.
It’s here! It’s here! The most wonderful time of the autoimmune disease year. Fall colors, cooler (but not cold) temperatures, sunshine levels that won’t make me sick, pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks, and wood smoke. Pumpkins and autumn squash soup. New yarns at the yarn store and patterns for warm sweaters. Ugg boots!! Without fail I have a surge of joy and energy at this time of year. Just like the golden hour in photography, that time in the evening when everything is softened and has a glow of light to it, this is my golden hour of the year.
What’s wrong with the rest of the year you ask? Well, let me tell you: winter is a beautiful time of year, but for a person with systemic sclerosis and Raynaud’s disease, it is a miserable battle to keep extremities warm an opportunity to rock the wool socks, shawls and fingerless mitts. This year I plan to roll out some exceptionally warm longish sweaters; I have the yarn all ready to go. I have patterns for fingerless mitts that will go up to my elbows. I bought fleece Cuddle Duds. I am really going to try to handle the cold better this year; last year I rolled out of winter with more severe symptoms than I had in the fall.
Spring is a time of gardening, hope and struggle for me as I try to get the garden’s flowers (and roses!!) going while slowly accepting that new debilitating symptoms that I thought were related to the war against cold, but which remained in the balmy days of April and May, were actually real things. Darn! No wool sock or hand warmer will fix my problems… by the time I make appointments or call for help it is already summer.
Ugh! Summer! I was a teacher, and summer was that wonderful time of renewal and rebuilding that kept me going year after year. Now summers are so fraught that they seem to pass in a blur of lawn watering and visits to Kaiser. Really, I am just a mess all summer long. Here’s the highlights of this year:
Summer started with me just a few weeks into the drug methotrexate (which I got after making a call for help in early May…) I was losing hair and taking it easy two days a week because of the drug’s side effects. Still, by juggling the drug schedule I was able to work a summer camp teaching kids how to spin and felt fiber. So fun. The camp was only 2.5 hours a day so it was perfect.
In July I developed rare bone complications from the drug (well, don’t I feel special!) and ended up at an acute diagnostic facility. That was the end of the methotrexate.
Icky symptoms reappeared with a vengeance. I had to wait a few weeks before I could start the new drug. It’s called purgatory drug holiday .
UTI strikes. Seriously!! Antibiotics, barfing and yogurt happened.
Rheumatology appointment: he starts me on CellCept with some reservations about whether my gut (which basically hates me…) can handle it.
I start the pills. Woohoo! No problems except after two days…
…UTI strikes again. Oops! I stopped the CellCept, gobbled antibiotics and yogurt, and skipped the barfing. Take that you ill-behaved gut!!
Started CellCept again the next week. Hello heartburn, my old friend. Middle of the night vomiting and belly pain? Nope, nope, nope. My gut has definitely vetoed this drug! I didn’t even make it a week before I emailed my rheumatologist to ask for something else from the land of pharmacological wonders.
Well, what do you know. There is another version of the CellCept that is a time release version that I should be able to stomach (see what I did there?). My rheumatologist and I had an email chat and he ordered it up for me.
…and the insurance declined to approve it. What?!! I wanted to send my gut on over to have a chat with them. Two visits to the pharmacy, two phone calls and an invocation of the gastroenterologist did the trick. I scored the pills on the last Friday in September. Yep. That was the end of summer and it is now time for the golden hour.
I started the time-released version of CellCept 10 days ago. You know, I think that I feel better already. My knees have stopped hurting! I seem to have more energy. I think that there is less edema in my arms. I have started cleaning out cupboards and stuff. I am happy.
This is my year of systemic sclerosis (scleroderma): cold, pain, hope, struggle, persistence, and wonder. And this, my friends, is the best part of the whole dang year. I am full of joy with every red leaf and pumpkin that I see. I know that the snow is coming, but what the heck.
I love this time of the year. It is cool overnight and then heats right up during the day. The leaves of the trees are just starting to turn and there are birds flocking in their branches. Something is happening with the light: it is bright, but coming in at a lower angle that is the first hint of the southern winter sun to come. Mostly my garden is done blooming and this is when I decide which plants I want to save and bring inside for the winter.
One thing is for sure. The indoor plants this year will be pink bloomers. I did plant some other colors. I was rocking the orange and yellow in June, but those guys have quit for the year. There was a lot of lavender and purple for awhile, but now there is mostly pink.
I also have a pot of tea roses that will move indoors. Guess what color they are? Everything that is coming inside is pink. Not exactly the color that I had planned for my winter-time flowers, but these are the ones that will be making the big move. It is just too hard to let the garden go over the winter; I always cling to as much as I can for those months of snow shoveling and gloomy afternoons.
Wait what am I talking about? Winter is the months of spinning yarn, knitting like crazy and baking yummy breads and indoor blooms. Instead of knitting outside in my garden I will be working among my garden plants inside.
Gosh, I really like this time of year. Maybe I can get a deal on the grow lights. 🙂
Summer heat has arrived, I’m feeling better, and it is definitely past time to attend to the needs of the garden. Yesterday I weeded out front in the shade of the morning and then mowed that lawn in the evening (well, I actually mowed only half of the lawn. A neighbor then arrived and took the mower away from me to finish things up. I love my neighbors!!) Look at what has been happening out front while I was engaged in an indoor scleroderma-induced slug-fest.
This morning I moved into the back yard with the cats to see what I could accomplish in a couple hours of coolness and shade before the afternoon heats up. Oh dear, it is somewhat of a jungle, and the cats have been running wild.
Things are looking much better than I thought they would. I weeded like crazy, filled up two garbage sacks, and then planted some new flower seeds in one garden where a rose died over the winter. By then the day was heating up and I was starting to feel a little dizzy again. Time to head back into the house to rest up for afternoon knitting and lawn mowing later.
The best part of the morning? I didn’t see a single slug!!
On New Year’s Eve I made some resolutions. I’ve been keeping up with most of them, but there were a few that were one time deals that had to wait for the right time of the year. Now that spring is here it is time for me to address one of the big ones. The roses at the front of my house are just awful. They were really nice roses for several years, and then they got a dose of bleach when my house was painted, and the extreme rainfall of the last two years was too much for them to handle. They struggled and what did manage to grow was munched by every passing insect. Ugh!
I have changed my landscaping around the house and had new rain gutter installed. It is now time for me to rip these roses out and to replant them with some others that are hardy, full of blooms and resistant to insects.
Off to my favorite nursery I went to look at roses. Here’s what I was looking for.
The weather here in Colorado will be warm all week except for a couple of day of rain. These guys should have a nice week to make a good start. Welcome to your new home little guys!
Well, this is it. There are only a couple of hours left for the year. The end of a really busy year, and I have no idea what exactly was accomplished over the last 12 months. Well, I did read a lot of books and did a lot of knitting, but since I didn’t keep track of things, I don’t exactly have any numbers. I do have a memory of a quilt that I made for my younger son, and then there was the enormous landscaping project along the house, but seriously, the year is just a blur.
This year I would like to set some goals and then measure my progress. With the best of intentions, here is what I’m planning for in 2015.
I’m going to go through my sock books and select a different sock to make each month. Then I will knit the sock! Seriously, I will get this done.
I will knit the socks with the STASH YARN!!!
I will make a really serious effort to record my projects in Ravelry.
I tend to make multiple items of the same pattern, so I will also start a spreadsheet to list my knitted items. Ha! Next year I will know exactly how many baby booties I actually made.
I dropped my spinning wheel. Parts fell off. I finally sucked it up and told Maggie Casey of Shuttles, Spindles & Skeins (Boulder, Colorado) that I had hurt my baby. She told me (3 months ago) to bring it in and she would fix it. I will for sure absolutely without fail take it in this month!! next month before summer.
I’m struggling with the spinning wheel because I bought 5 ounces of Paco-Vicuna roving to spin. Wow! This stuff is soft beyond belief. I’m afraid to spin it. If the wheel is broken, I can’t be expected to spin it, can I? All right. I’m a big person. I will without fail get this fiber spun before the end of the year.
The Paco-Vicuna is from a local grower, Jefferson Farms. The name of the animal is Gulliver. I promise to call them up before the year is over and I will go visit Gulliver. Won’t that be a fun post!
Goodreads says I read 25 books this year. That can’t be right!! I know that I am reading more than that. Therefore I resolve to list every book that I read at Goodreads this year.
I will even review every some of the books that I read.
Maybe I should start a spreadsheet while I am at it.
I would love to read 100 books this year. Ha! Really, it will be fun!
The roses at the front of the house, Showbiz, look just terrible these days. Mainly they serve as food for wandering insects. Maybe I shouldn’t have dosed them with bleach while painting the house two years ago. They have never been the same again…
I am going to rip those roses out and replant with some roses that are hardy, full of blooms and resistant to insects. The Home Run roses at the side of the yard look great. Maybe I will get some of those for the front.
That’s it. There is only an hour left to the year. Goodbye, goodbye 2014.