Is it time for you to check out cataract surgery?

A cataract is a cloudy area in the lens of your eye, and they become more of a problem as we age. By age 75 approximately 70 percent of people have cataracts. Because our population is aging, more than 30.1 million Americans are projected to have cataracts this year. In other cases, cataracts may be related to eye trauma, long-term diabetes, corticosteroid medications or radiation treatments.

At first, you may not notice that you have a cataract. In many cases cataracts start clouding your vision in your 40s or 50s, but do not become a major problem until after age 60. Mine didn’t get really bad until the past year or so at age 65, and corticosteroids (Symbicort) did play a part in their worsening so quickly. The last time I had a vision test I could barely see the big E at the top of the chart!

I had my first eye done yesterday, and it was a breeze. I felt no pain and just saw weird colorful blobs in my eye while my surgeon was working on it. He simply removed my old lens in pieces and then slipped in a new one… No pain at all! In fact, on the way home I said to Mike, “If only all of my medical problems could be solved so quick and easily!”

Today my vision is so much better with no glasses and little discomfort. I feel like I can see EVERYTHING NOW! So I highly recommend getting this taken care of sooner rather then later. Don’t let the idea of it scare you.

Do you know enough about anemia?

Have you ever noticed how we don’t care about a problem until it happens to us? Anemia is my new, out-of-the-blue problem, so I thought I might teach the rest of you a little bit about it.

According to the World Health Organization, anemia or iron deficiency is by far the most common and widespread nutritional disorder worldwide, with an estimated one billion people affected. Yep, it’s a public health condition of epidemic proportions. Who knew? And it is most commonly a problem in those over sixty.

Iron deficiency anemia is a common type of anemia — a condition in which blood lacks adequate healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen to the body’s tissues. I found out about my anemia through a standard blood test where I learned my bone marrow was not creating enough normal red blood cells, the size of them was small and therefore, the hemoglobin in my blood was not able to provide me with enough oxygen.

How do you feel when you are living with an iron deficiency? According to the Mayo Clinic, iron deficiency anemia symptoms may include:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Pale skin
  • Chest pain, fast heartbeat or shortness of breath
  • Headache, dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Inflammation or soreness of your tongue
  • Brittle nails & hair loss
  • Unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances, such as ice, dirt or starch
  • Poor appetite, especially in infants and children with iron deficiency anemia

Imagine my surprise when I discovered my recent strong desire to chew ice constantly was an symptom of a major problem! Still no desire to eat dirt, but this might go a long way towards explaining my daily struggles to breathe!

So now I’m busy figuring out what foods have lots of iron, foods like beef and pork, shellfish, dried fruit, fortified breakfast cereals, beans, leafy greens and, my favorite, dark chocolate!

In my case I also began taking a 65 mg iron supplement. Thought I might warn the rest of you boomers, because I was pretty surprised. Now I wonder how I got through my whole life without knowing one thing about this… OH, is that what those Geritol commercials from the 1950s were all about?

WARNING: Be certain to see your doctor for a diagnosis rather than taking iron supplements on your own. Overloading the body with iron can be dangerous because excess iron accumulation can damage your liver and cause other complications.

The death of John Lewis, an American Freedom Fighter

On this occasion of Mr. Lewis’s passing, I decided to re-post this piece from 2017:

My Thoughts about Racism in the USA

I have been an advocate for world equality my entire life. I was raised to think of myself as a citizen of the world and a protector of the earth. I have extreme aversion to all forms of sexism, racism, ageism, and other means of judging others by their outside appearance. Please spend some time talking to me before you decide what I think about anything.

But on the topic of racism in my country, I wish all Americans could see the film: I am NOT your Negro, released this spring, and then have a national discussion of where we come from and where we hope to go.

In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project called “Remember This House.” The book was to be an honest and deeply personal account of the lives and assassinations of three of his close friends: Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. At the time of Baldwin’s death in 1987, he left behind only 30 completed pages of this manuscript. This film is a product of filmmaker Raoul Peck’s creative vision of the book James Baldwin never finished.

For me, as a European-American raised in Kansas, and one who has followed the civil rights movement for decades, this film was a powerful eye-opener. So many may think they comprehend the black experience in the USA. If you think so, please watch this film. Even African-Americans could benefit from seeing this film. This is a powerful critique of racism, the kind that is found everywhere, and unconsciously continues to this day.

Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King knew that they would probably die at the hands of assassins, but this did not deter them from walking the talk everyday. And, as the film points out, not one of them lived to be 40 years old.

How many of you would risk your life for a cause? African-American leaders of every generation have not survived their generation.

And for those of you with the “I can’t get a hold of this film” excuse. I got a copy from a public library that serves a town of 800 residents. Interlibrary loan is alive and well nationally! It is also available through PBS on Independent Lens.

Why do we have eye brows anyway?

Have you noticed all of the crazy things women do with their eye brows? I swear, this is surely a crazy part of animal behavior! When I see this I always remember one of my favorite lines from George Carlin:

“Ladies, leave your eye brows alone!”

Then I got to thinking, what do eye brows even do for us? I mean we certainly need eyes and noses and ears, but why eye brows? So I looked it up, and according to the article, “Why do we have eye brows”:

Eyebrows have two main purposes: keeping moisture out of our eyes and communication. Physically, eyebrows are there to help keep our eyes clean and clear. They move wetness from sweat and rain away from our eyes so we can maintain our sight.

Did you ever notice how your eyebrow hairs grow outward, toward the sides of your face? That helps direct any moisture away from your eyes toward the side of your face. Eyebrows can reduce the amount of light that gets into our eyes and keep dirt away from them.

Eye brows also help us express emotions and recognize each other. Eyebrows are an important part of human expression and communication. They allow us to show our emotions. One raised eyebrow expresses skepticism or interest. Two raised eyebrows can express surprise…

So you now see, changing your eye brows can be a bad thing. So please, LEAVE THEM ALONE!

Blue-Mist Spirea! One happy Colorado foothills plant!

The first time I remember noticing this beautiful mid-summer blooming purple bush was about twenty years ago, up near Masonville, west of Fort Collins.

I couldn’t get over how cool and refreshing it looked in the midst of such a hot summer day!

So when I moved up to 7,000 feet and started my own garden five years ago, I knew I would have to have a few of these bushes sprinkled throughout.

This plant has turned out to be one of my most dependable bloomers every summer. It needs no extra water once established, the deer and critters don’t touch it and it comes back every year bigger and better than before. It attracts lots of bees and butterflies, and this year it’s begun creating new plants around itself! I love the way it starts blooming in mid-July when most of my other flowers are finished.

Tucked in with a Rocky Mountain Bee Plant and some native sunflower volunteers...

I found out online that these can be propagated from seed by “collecting their fruit—a light brown, winged nutlet. Harvest these seeds and place them in damp sphagnum moss in a plastic bag. Put that in the refrigerator for three months, then sow them in pots. Transplant them outside in spring.”

Mine seem to be propagating themselves with no assistance from me!

Garden Notes – June 5th 2020

In spite of drought conditions down here in southern Colorado, my garden continues to bloom. May, usually one of our wettest months, was rough here, with a little over a half inch all month. In the past week or so we have seen Colorado Springs, two hours north of us, receive a half inch of rain as well as Trinidad to the south. We just keep getting skipped over…

But still my sky garden blooms!

The most dependable early bloomers, even in a drought, are the Walker Low Catmint, Yellow Yarrow and Rocky Mountain Penstemon, although I am also having great luck with ‘Red Knight’ Knautia Macedonica and Red Gaillardia now that they are established.

Remember Rocky Mountain Penstemon (Strictus) has to overwinter once before it will bloom.

A couple volunteers I really enjoy each year is the very early local Penstemon, Yucca flowers and…

…the Showy Four O’Clock, which grows from a taproot deep in the ground.

I am lucky enough to have one perfectly located in front of my Buddha. This was not planned, it just happened. It’s just starting to bloom now.

After the great disappointment that Perennial Favorites near Rye has closed for good, I hurried down to the nursery in Walsenburg and purchased two new plants this week. I bought a couple Echinacea ‘Mellow Yellow’ and ‘Dusty Rose’ Salvia. I’ll let you know how those two turn out later.

I’m trying to get some non-purple flowers in my garden, but it isn’t easy for a a total purple lover like me!

Is America Great Again…Yet?

I have been re-educating myself lately on Black and Native American history. And on one program I saw last week on PBS, a Black man asked us all such an important question:

When in our history was America great for African-Americans? What time period are we trying to go back to exactly?

Let that question soak in for a minute or two? Then ask yourself this:

At what time in our history was America better for women than right now?

I know, these silly catch phrases pass us by without much thought, so think about this one for a minute. Those who support Trump believe things used to be so much better than now. In other words, the “good old days” of lynchings, and shooting a black man for jogging, wife beating, child abuse and wife murder, those were the great times from our past.

How about the millions of Native Americans we killed either with diseases or plain old murder?

Trump says: Let’s get back to those days of American greatness!

I saw a silly meme the other day, but there is also some truth in it:

When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.

This is why I am re-educating myself on American history. My life has been supremely privileged. Growing up in Kansas as a European-American I never experienced racism, but I did understand sexism from an early age. Both suck. And to any European-American who disagrees I say, how would you like to be black or of Latin American descent in this culture? For most of us it would be quite instructional. We might suddenly get it.

The good old days were only great for those of great privilege….

European-American versus Native American Respect For Our Ancestors

As mentioned in my previous post, I have been watching and absorbing a new appreciation of the Native American peoples who lived in the Americas before the beginning of European conquest. One fact that was never communicated to me when I studied “American History” in high school was that the first Spaniards, who murdered and subjugated the Incas, confronted over 10,000 years of Native American existence, culture, beliefs and traditions. I had no idea how well-educated and well-organized this population of over 100 million souls was when European began destroying them. For example, their expertise in the area of astronomy far exceeded the Europeans until the time of Galileo in the 1600’s.

Did anyone ever teach me these facts when I was studying the history of the world? Did anyone even care?

I have also learned recently that one of the factors that strengthened the bonds of Native Americans through many centuries was their reverence for their ancestors:

Due to the sacrifices of our ancestors, we live.

As a scholar of Chinese history, this reverence reminded me of traditional Chinese society. Those that had the resources often built large shrines to their deceased ancestors and worshiped them. This parallels the Native American honor and respect for their elders.

While I was watching the PBS series “Native America” this week, I kept thinking about how we European Americans feel towards our own elders. I spoke to one friend about this contrast and he said, “It seems like we just want to send them away and lock them up in a nursing home…”

Did your family honor and appreciate your great-grandparents and grandparents while you were growing up? Did you sit with them and ask them to share their stories of sacrifice for their country and their families?

Where would you be without them?

One factor to consider in our own history is that only those Europeans who were willing to leave their ancestors behind emigrated to the Americas. Most of us left centuries of family history behind to move here.

Our recent pandemic is decimating our elderly population as I write this. Covid-19 is hardest on the elderly, with those 65 and older accounting for 80% of U.S. deaths from this disease, according to the CDC. So many lives and stories lost. And yet I feel little sadness nationally. These are the Americans who helped to build our world, and now they die lost and alone.

As I age, I feel our disrespect for the wisdom of our elders. I just turned 65 and I certainly do not feel respect or reverence for my own hard-earned wisdom.

Those who do not learn from history are destined to repeat it…

Stop watching the death toll on TV and…

Can we let ourselves ponder the possibility that wonder awaits us in simply opening our senses? That awakening to the magnificence and mystery of life can be brought about with the slightest shift of our attention? That awe is available whenever we open our hearts? That moments of the most abiding belonging are within us always?

In the wilderness is the preservation of the world. – Henry David Thoreau

‘Remarkable’ Solar Lights!

I remember back in 2006, when I was just beginning to learn about social media and blogging, I read a great book about what this kind of publishing freedom could mean for all of us. My favorite quote from back then was:

“Freedom of the press is only available to those who own one!”

The other idea that has stayed with me for the past 15 years is exactly what the word ‘remarkable’ means. Today it means ‘going viral.’ It means so many people told someone else about something they saw on the internet, that it feels like the entire world knows about it now!

How often do you see something that is truly remarkable? Here’s mine:

I was messing around the other day, looking for solar lights that I liked as much as my simple little pink flamingo that switches itself on around 8 pm every evening.

I found these silly looking lilies…

They look like cheap artificial flowers during the day, but at night they light up and and then start changing colors! They are truly REMARKABLE! I love to watch them all evening. I know they seem expensive, but I think they are worth it!

The butterfly solar lights are extremely cool too!