Sundog –noun 1. parhelion. 2. a small or incomplete rainbow.

Posts tagged “outdoors

Today I Saved a Life

Summer school has been crazy paced. I am keeping on top of things, mostly, and feel fairly good about our first test tomorrow. Quizzes have gone well and homework is challenging at times, but with the help of the math center’s tutors, everything is being completed.

Scuba is going well too. It was a major challenge to overcome the smell of the chlorine at the pool – to feel safe in a place that a person with MCS would be afraid to go. However, last Wednesday night I put on all the scuba gear and happily swam underwater in the pool for a couple of hours.

Thursday morning saw me getting hugely sick, I’m ok now, but I actually had to go to the emergency room for IV fluids and antinausea medication. After several doses of meds, I was good to go home where I then slept the next 22 hours away. Needless to say, I missed math class that day.

What a weird week.

Yesterday saw me in a study group with a girl from class, Jess, who’s a surprising 17 years old. I couldn’t help but be curious about the coincidence in life to bring us together. She began college at 16 – as did I. When I was 17, I met up with a study buddy who became a friend who was older than me and married – as I am now. Its like I am looking back at time and now participating on the other side of an experience I had twenty years ago! Heck, when I was having this experience, Jess wasn’t even alive yet. Wild!

Then today was I driving to an appointment that’s a little outside of town. It’s a little more wild there, fields on one side of the two lane road, houses on the other. I do this drive twice a week and its very common to see small roadkill because of the traffic and proximity to the fields. As I was driving behind someone and seeing traffic coming my way, I spotted what looked like a very recently killed bunny in the road. It was only a few inches to the side of the center line. When I drew nearly abreast of it, I was looking at it some more because it seemed a little too upright for roadkill.

Wait! That rabbit is alive!

I didn’t have to give it much thought. Immediately I pulled over to the side of the road and went back, hoping it wasn’t going to jump into a passing car’s way because of my presence. Thankfully, the poor rabbit was completely petrified with fear and I was able to easily pick it up and hold it to my chest.

After a little searching nearby, I found a very nice spot to leave the rabbit about 50 feet or so from the road. He’s right next to some tall grass, under a shady tree, with a small pond about ten feet away. Lovely little spot. I set him down and he fell over, stiff with fear. One thing my time in those woods taught me though, is that the rabbit will be ok. The best thing I could do at that point was to leave and trust that in five or ten minutes he’d snap out of it and hop away.

As I neared the road again to cross back to my car, a large dump truck came barreling down the street. A truck that size wouldn’t have swerved or stopped for a bunny in the road. Without a doubt, I save that little guy’s life by just a few minutes.

Life is weird and then it gets weirder. This week looks to be keeping that trend. Still… at least I have this bright new memory of holding the little body in my arms and keeping him safe until I could find a good spot for him to stay while recovering.


Nude Beach

Have you ever been to a nude beach? I went to my first one today!

Little Beach, Maui – Hawaii

Little Beach is part of the Makena State Park and known for being clothing optional, as well as it’s Sunday night drum parties. It’s a very nice little cove at the end of a quarter mile hike. The snorkeling wasn’t spectacular, however we saw some fish we’ve never seen before – including a small school of fish probably each the size of a large dog. As well, several sea turtles made the whole trip very worthwhile.

Yet, we didn’t go to Little Beach for the snorkeling – we went for the whales. Humpback whales migrate here each winter from December through April. According to my research, Little Beach would be just about the best place from shore to watch them passing by. Shortly after we arrived we were greeted with an amazing site. Two adult humpback whales only a few hundred feet off the shore, swimming along and doing their own thing. Though we didn’t see much more than their back spines each time they came to the surface, it was a fantastic site that brought tears to my eyes.

I mean, how fantastic is it to have seen something like that so close in the wild?

I wasn’t on a boat with dozens of other tourists or some other modern means to be out on the water with them. No, I was just standing on the shore of a beach I’d hiked out to and seeing them as I am, a human on land, and as they are, majestic beauty in the ocean. Absolutely one of the most amazing things I’ve seen in my life.

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen whales, not even here on Maui – just something about them being so close I felt like I could nearly touch them… wonderful.

Have you ever wondered what whale songs are like in the wild?

Sometimes when you snorkel here during the winter you can hear them signing to each other underwater. This is the second time I’ve been lucky to hear them. Today they were loud enough to be easily heard, even over the white noise of the choppy waves we were snorkeling in. It was very magical, especially the times when we’d find a turtle to swim with. Whales whistling and calling to one another, following a sea turtle as it wandered the reef, scores of brightly colored fish swimming below us – I’ll always remember this.

I found myself at one point being struck by how diametrically different my life is now compared to March in Washington while living in a tent. Almost every year the last snow of the season would be sometime in the next two weeks. We’d be completely and totally exhausted from surviving another freezing and snowy winter only to look forward to a ridiculous amount of rain for the next two months, praying this summer would be warm and sunny. Often times it would be a wet summer too with nary a good, hot day to burn off winter’s chill before turning into Autumn and starting the cycle all over.

Instead, here I was snorkeling nude in the ocean, warm sunshine on my backside, while swimming with whales and turtles!

If life can change so dramatically for me in such a short period of time, just think of what else I can do. I am getting healthy again, there is no doubt about that, and sometimes like today I can really feel just how possible it is to change my situation for the better. It has taken an enormous amount of hard work and tenacity, but just look at where I am now!

I used to feel like I could inspire others to follow their dreams, grow as individuals, and reach places they thought were too distant – but sadly, I couldn’t do that for myself. Now I look at how life has changed me…I can be my own inspiration and reach my own dreams.

If I were to be able to speak to the illness that has stolen so many years of my life, I would have to quote one of my favorite movies – “Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City to take back the (life) that you have stolen, for my will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom as great — You have no power over me.”


Winter in Hawaii

I could not have imagined a winter as warm as this. Today has felt more like summer than it has winter. Around Christmas we had 3 weeks of Autumn-like weather – seems that was our winter!

Along with the warm weather is more air pollution in the winter from VOG – volcanic gasses which are heavy in sulfur. They tend to linger at times due to lower Trade Winds and cause the air to feel heavier, more polluted. How polluted? Well, I’d take VOG any day over all the wood smoke we’d have this time of year in Washington. Not to mention the presto logs – those things were toxic to be stuck downwind in their smoke! On the other hand, we are more sluggish on VOG days and it can cause headaches at night for me.

Sunshine – we are in the midst of a lovely period of sunny weather. Weeks of it even!

I remember in Washington we had two warm winters when the winds came up from Hawaii bringing sunshine and zero snow. We always daydreamed about how wonderful it would be to live someplace where it was always that warm – now that I’m here I must say it’s a fair bit warmer than I would have believed possible!

T-shirts and shorts are the norm and still you’ll find yourself a bit hot by noon. I love it!

In fact, I love it so much that I did something today which exemplifies winter in Hawaii better than anything else I could say at this point.

I went skinny dipping in the ocean!

It’s been years since I last stripped off my clothes and hopped into a body of water. Doing so today felt like gaining back a small part of myself which was lost when illness struck.

I may still be tired and sick, but I can swim naked in the ocean with the warm sun upon me like a younger me once enjoyed.

That makes me happy.


Adventures!

Wow, I have been wanting to post here for weeks, but never find the time and energy at the same moment while also remembering.

Life is moving along much faster than either Jeremy or I are used to. Due to a few MCS related problems both at home (neighbor) and simply learning about which places are too toxic for us, we have been having less energy and more brain fog. It is at times frustrating, but overall we are doing better than we have for years and that is something we always try to remember.

Given time we’ll no doubt be doing better again. Mainly need our neighbor to stop his toxic repair project so the air becomes cleaner for us again at home. We have spoken with him and it’s mostly finished, though he’s currently waiting on a part from the mainland before he is completely done.

Our big news – we now own snorkel gear! We have been snorkeling three times in the last week and would happily have done more if the snorkel conditions cooperated. I suspect the snorkeling is also partly the cause for our fatigue. It is easy to lose track of time while exploring the reefs and shoreline looking for treasure to bring home. So far we have found a few fishing weights and some nice shells.

Our first trip out we saw two sea turtles. One was HUGE, though we only caught glimpses of it before it swam off. The second was a much smaller turtle, likely a fairly young one still as it was no more than a quarter the size of the adult. We swam along behind him as he surfaced several times for air and had a bite to eat from the coral reefs.

We also had an adventure to the westside of Maui (we live on the eastside). This tiny bit of beach is a great place to find sea glass. I think we came home with a couple pounds of glass, much of which is jewelry quality. Now we just need to turn it into necklaces, bracelets, and earrings!

Aloha until the next adventure!


Snorkeling!

Our big snorkeling adventure was a blast!

It’s also a lot of work on this previously bedbound body. Amazingly we snorkeled for about an hour before needing to get out of the water. I spent a fair bit of that hour simply floating while watching the fish on the coral below me. I have never snorkeled before, only wore the gear in the swimming pool a few times and the bathtub as a kid.

It was just as peaceful and relaxing as I had always dreamed it would be. I think the experience will only get better as my physical conditioning improves and I can move around easier. Though we spent an hour in the water, we both would have been happy staying in there all day.

My mom always said I was part fish because I would often be the last kid left in the pool or river even after everyone else was long since out. It was nice reconnecting with the part of me who adores swimming and feels incredibly one with the water.

We did learn one interesting fact shortly after we were done swimming and went onto the beach to dry off – there is a price to be paid for that much fun. Not only have we both ended up with sore muscles all over and various light sunburns, but apparently the ocean water is going to stimulate heavy detox.

The sore muscles and burn was expected, but the detox was a big surprise. Complicating things for me was having water trapped in my ear making me even sicker. Luckily some of it passed within an hour out of the water, but the majority of detox symptoms persisted all day and into the next.

While detox is a good thing, it can be a little overwhelming at times – especially when caught completely by surprise. We will be more prepared next time and recover quicker. In time, this detoxing should allow our health to improve considerably as long as we do not push our bodies too hard, but instead keep it slow and steady.

Again I find myself wondering where our health will climb to in the next several months as everything seems incredibly promising for the first time in a decade. If ever there was a doubt moving to Maui was going to be a life changing adventure, those doubts are fading like fog hit with the first rays of a welcoming sun filled morning.

Here’s a few pictures Kimberly took of the trip:

Threadfin Butterfly Fish

Jeremy in the middle and I'm on the left.

Coral, Threadfin Butterfly, Sea Urchin

Jeremy looking for hidden treasures.


Another Adventure?

The good news – yesterday we bought a car! It will need some work to be low toxic and fully comfortable, but for now it is enough to get us to the store without problems. We just won’t be going on hour long trips in it for now.

Within five minutes of paying for it, we were on the road heading back to Baby Beach. It was nearing sunset and we wanted to explore what having the freedom of a car felt like again.

It was great.

The bad news – while we played in the waves and walked along the beach, someone was stealing the last couple gallons of gas from our car. We naively left the car open, windows down, so it could get fresh air through it. For the thief, this plus the cover of near darkness made a tasty target to get easy access to our gas tank’s lid release lever and our gas.

It was a bit hair-raising on the way home when we noticed the gas light on – tank nearly empty!

Luckily we did make it back, but the nearest gas station is further away than we feel comfortable driving to on an unknown amount of gas with a car we are not familiar with. And so our first adventure turned misadventure in the end.

We will find a friendly bit of help somewhere to get a gallon or two of gas brought home, then make it to the station to finish filling up. This is the first time we have driven a car since gas prices became over twice what I remember last paying, a good lesson was learned last night and won’t be soon forgotten.

Meanwhile… off to snorkel today and another adventure!


Take a Deep Breath, Now LEAP!

Today is my last morning with a computer before it too is packed away in a cardboard box and sent ahead of me towards my new home. Over the past four weeks, I have evaluated each aspect of life I collected around me – weighed and determined if it was valuable enough to warrant shipping or if I would finally part ways with it to lighten my load.

It is surprising how little I chose to keep.

I have always been a packrat by nature. This enthusiasm to keep things that might one day be ‘useful’ has still persisted even living in a tent year around, but what is useful here is not always the same as what is useful indoors in Hawaii. Certainly the sharp axe used to split small logs will be left behind, while our amazingly comfortable camp chairs have passed inspection and are already at our new apartment.

I find as our camp dwindles in clutter, a great deal of contentment begins to infuse my being. It is as though I am washing away a decade of grief and pain caused by a dramatic loss of health, family, and nearly everything I once was.

The woman who sits here today is a very different person to the one who walked into this exact camp site 7 years ago. Before now, I had never lived in a single place longer than a few years. How odd that I finally found the stability in housing I always longed for by living in a tent.

Am I scared of these new changes to come? You bet I am. It is all unknown – this will be the first time Jeremy and I will live outside of a tent on our own while ill.

But I am also hugely excited. Despite the fear, I will be stepping out of darkness and into the bright world beckoning me the last several years. I will walk with my head held high, the strength and courage I found in these dark years supporting me when my knees are weak with fear.

And so this is my last post from a tent – as always I am full of hope and determination to see myself and Jeremy walking forward into our future instead of looking back at our past.

Good bye tent. Hello Maui!


Imagine

Imagine living 20 minutes away from here:

Ho'okipa Beach Park, Maui

Ho'okipa Beach Park, Maui

Imagine sitting one sunny afternoon on a sandy beach and watching the windsurfers play in the dancing waves:

Wind surfers at Ho'okipa Beach, Maui

Windsurfers at Ho'okipa Beach, Maui

Imagine feeling the spray misting from this meeting of rock and wave, blown by a sea breeze across your face:

Lava Rocks at Ho'okipa Beach, Maui

Lava Rocks at Ho'okipa Beach, Maui

As I sit here and imagine all this I begin to feel my eyes tear up with overwhelming emotion because for me this will be my reality in four weeks.

There is no doubt I am currently living a rare and beautiful moment in my life; when it feels like the heavens are shifting the world around me in order to lay a wondrous path at my feet.

My time is now.

My time is here.

Together, Jeremy and I are seizing this moment and riding the wave of change out from our tent and into a new life filled with sunshine.

These events are nothing short of miraculous and I thank the spiritual path I follow for guiding me here.


Life is an Ever Changing Wonder

It’s another sunny day here in the Pacific Northwest. Starting into the best time of year – not too cold, not too many bugs, and a few more sunny days. It only lasts about a month, usually most of April though this year it is late.

Life has been moving quickly for us the last few weeks. It seemed a slow, sluggish mire we had fallen into over the winter was going to plague us all spring. Then one morning someone turned the “LIFE” switch from ‘off’ over to ‘on’ and life began to take form around us.

It’s odd to say life started when obviously I’m still breathing and getting into mischief. However there is a difference between being alive and living.

This last 18 months I have found myself learning to live again and growing beyond my physical boundaries. Then the late snows in February and March crashed our health; it is very physically and mentally taxing to live in a tent during frequent snows. My world narrowed again to survival – just getting by for another week, another month, waiting to feel less awful. Thankfully an easy allergy season helped and in April we started to move past survival and back into living again.

As I am happily remembering, there is also a difference between living and thriving.

Two weeks ago everything changed in 24 hours. Living became Thriving. I think the last time we found ourselves thriving was in 2005. Before that… 2001, during the few months before life took a nose dive into the world of chronic CFS/MCS.

It’s been a long, hard road we walk in this life of illness.

The big news going along with this change is that we finally will have the means to find indoor housing. Yup, this couple in the woods will one day soon become homeless no more.

I find the prospect both terrifying and exhilarating at the same time.

Where will we go? What sort of place will we rent? I honestly don’t know, though we are planning on answering those questions this summer. With a bit of luck, we’ll be indoors by November; we’ve had enough of living outside during Winter.

Times like these it is hard not to jump into the first opportunity that comes along. Our health concerns and the restrictions it places on housing means we must move slowly to ensure a safe living situation is found.

It also means we opted not to see the naturopath last week. As we are not certain to be staying in the local area, we didn’t want to establish care with a new doctor (a costly endeavor) and then repeat the process in another few months. However, we have followed up on a considerable amount of blood work through Dr. Buscher and will know the results in a few weeks.

Where to live when the world has suddenly opened itself up to you once more?

How to get there and more importantly, how to find safe housing?

What type of change will all this have on our health?

I am looking forwards to finding the answers to these and other questions, which swirl around in my waking and dreaming thoughts.


Irony

I’ve had Irony on my mind much of the last month. Less than a week after my last post on healing, I injured my dominant hand. Now several weeks later I am still not recovered and have had troubles with stress injury to my other hand as it tried to pick up the slack.

I have wondered at times – just how does a person end up homeless for 9 years with strange illness? By a random chain of events that seem ludicrous when looked at fully, but which have a large amount of irony to them.

And so, Sundog Tales will be continuing to be on hold for a time as my injuries heal enough for me to type without strain.

Happy Spring to all!


Paleo Cookie Pancakes!

With the holidays upon us, seemed a good time to share our recipe for Paleo Pancakes. These are a bit different than many similar recipes online as we designed them to be high density protein with a good dose of veggies – basically, a balanced paleo meal for times without the ability to cook. Turned out, they are tasty anytime!

Better yet – they taste a bit like cookies!

They are a sugar free, gluten free, organic, ready to go meal.

I’m sure the hemp powder we use can be substituted for other nut flours, we just needed the big protein gains during cold times without cooking.

Paleo Cookie Pancakes:

1 cup mashed squash
1/2 cup hemp powder
1/2 cup walnut flour
1/2 cup coconut milk
6 eggs

Lots of cinnamon (to taste)
Light cloves
1 tbl ginger powder
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste

Mix the hemp and walnut flour with the coconut milk. Mix in the mashed squash. Add eggs and mix well. Add spices or substitute for pumpkin pie spice.

It should have the consistency of thick pancake batter. Can add a few chopped nuts or berries to the batter for texture and bursts of flavor.

Scoop 1/4 cup of mixture onto a hot skillet or griddle, use plenty of butter or coconut oil to prevent sticking. Cook on a low heat, they burn a little easier than other pancakes.

Flip each pancake when the bottom side firms up, like normal pancakes. Cook some more until done!

These tend to be thin, but fluffy due to the egg content. Two pancakes each makes a filling meal for us. I did not write down how many the recipe makes, but its around 9-12 cakes.

We usually eat these plain, but for special occasions (like birthdays) we’ll put a little vanilla ice cream on top. Wow they are good!

It would be easy to substitute many of the ingredients. The squash helps balance the acidic nut flours, helps provide carbohydrates, and keeps the pancakes moist. Bananas, pumpkin, yams, etc would all work well in its place. There are different types of nut flours, you can experiment with finding the one that suits your taste buds the most.

Enjoy and Happy Holidays!


Winter Arrived Early

An early snowstorm and cold front brought some amazing weather this week. This time I decided to capture it on film!

Last week Planet Thrive published an article I wrote on how to survive in a tent during winter. I found the last few days entertaining as I had to live the same advice I had just written about … especially the times I blatantly went against my own advice! Such as eating half frozen paleo pancakes for dinner when I had no way to get warm afterward – but ohhhh, they were good!

While going through all this, I came across an article about Leonid Rogozov, a Russian surgeon who in 1961 had to remove his own appendix or die. Admittedly, it made me feel like my own experiences of the last 48 hours paled in comparison, but I also felt a kinship to him.

People tell me that they can’t imagine living as I do with these difficulties and hardships. And yet, the same drive to look outside the box for ways to survive and take them in stride is the same drive Leonid would have felt fifty years ago.

I wonder sometimes – is this imperative to live genetically coded in our DNA, or is it a function of something more ethereal and hard to define?

There are many people out there who quickly buckle under stress and become hopelessly lost in a crisis. What is different in my life compared to theirs that has prepared me to be calm and decisive under pressure? As far back as I can remember, I have always been this way.

When I was 9, there was a large earthquake in Los Angeles; it was my first. I went to school like normal and to me it was just another day, more exciting than most, but nothing to worry about. Later that night, my mom told me she had gotten a call from my teacher. I’d been so calm and helpful with the other kids who were crying wrecks, that on a hectic day she was impressed enough to take a few spare moments and tell my mom personally.

Have the same genetics that cause me to be toxically ill from everyday life also given me the strength to survive the devastation they cause? Or maybe the human spirit for survival resides in a less well defined place.

My accomplishments are less dramatic than the stories told of legends and heroes, but it is with these people that I feel a hard won kinship. It fills me with a warm joy and chases away some of the loneliness life has brought me, because I know my feet walk the same path theirs once did.

And I have to wonder, did they also feel the same loneliness that I do?


A New Chapter Begins

My life has been led by far too much fear.

If you had asked me ten years ago while I was still healthy, I would have been very sure that fear played little role in the direction life was taking.

I would have been wrong.

Over the last several months I have been thinking about fear’s role in my life. Its not just the fear I felt every time I stepped out into the darkness at night alone the last eight years, but also the fear that has unknowingly held me back from jumping in and living life instead of life living me.

I see fear in my choice to stop following veterinary medicine after a negative experience while observing a surgery on a large dog in my 2nd year of college.

There was a great deal of hidden fear that caused me to be content with stoner friends who rarely did anything but sit around and have a good time.

In fact, an amazing amount of my life decisions have been chosen based on an unknown fear of failure. Much easier to set expectations of myself lower so that I can be the superstar I want to perceive instead of merely being average at something I put a lot of effort into.

I have done a lot of really great and brave things in life, but there was so much more I would have done had fear not gotten in my way. I wish I had known this years ago, before illness took away huge chunks of my ability to live and follow my dreams.

After becoming ill, my fear took on a whole new dimension as there was suddenly a tremendous amount of things to be afraid of. Overnight I had to become hyper vigilant of toxic exposures which could severely impact my quickly diminishing health.

These could be found hiding in plain sight on any stranger I passed on the street, in any building I entered, any street I walked down, a shift in the breeze, a box in the mail, and many other places. Perfumes, fabric softener, car exhaust, fresh paint, solvents, pesticides… so many things and more to be wary of.

Suddenly everything I knew about being safe in the world was turned completely upside down and every where I turned was another dangerous situation that had to be avoided or minimized at all costs.

My world had become a battlefield in a hostile and foreign land.

Even at home I was not necessarily safe. Living in a tent with nylon walls does not offer much protection against anything. I found myself fearing mountain lions, bears, trees falling on our tent in a wind storm, heavy snow storms, power outages, people not respecting our privacy and strolling into camp at their leisure, shifts in wind bringing toxic fumes from neighbors into our tent, neighbor dogs rooting through our stuff, and raccoons doing the same. Worse yet was all of the above, but in the dark where I could not see it coming.

evil raccoon

"My evil plan is working."

This fear had made me unable to leave the comfort of our lighted tent at night without Jeremy nearby, even for a simple trip to our ‘facilities’ because it meant being completely enclosed in the dark with nothing but my flashlight to see by. I used to go backpacking alone overnight and now I could not even tolerate 1 minute in the dark by myself without a panic attack overwhelming me.

Then a few months ago something began to change.

At first it changed so slowly I didn’t even see a difference until last month. I was up at our refrigerator area (about 70 ft from the tent) and using my sinus medication. It takes about 20 minutes for the whole process and it was quickly getting dark. Oddly, this hardly bothered me at all. I stayed the whole time and then calmly walked back to the tent. First time in eight years I have been able to do anything like this.

Over the last few weeks I have even gotten to the point where I have wanted a little quiet “me time” some evenings. I walk up to the chair we have by the fridge, have a seat, and just relax for a while – after dark. Critters rustling around in the bushes, breeze making strange noises in the trees – none of it freaks me out anymore.

When I do get spooked a bit, it is a pretty simple matter to calm my mind and body back down to a place where I can continue to enjoy the time spent alone, in the dark with only my flashlight. I have actually turned it off a couple of times. Only briefly off, but I still had the courage to do it.

Almost exactly what it looks like 20ft from our tent at night.

I am seeing this same shift away from fear in many aspects of my life and how I look at situations. Such as making a very important and empowering choice to stop fighting my situation and working with it instead.

To fully explain what brought about this change would take at least one more article, very possibly more. In summary, I have been utilizing alternative mind/body healing practices for nearly a year, specifically EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and Reiki. It is these practices to which I attribute many of these massive changes.

I have not spoken of these things here in my blog because of my fear that at even merely mentioning I am finding healing in alternative means, it would damage my credibility and the degree my chronic illness is taken seriously.

Having one’s integrity and mental soundness questioned goes hand in hand with a diagnosis of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I was reticent to add to that by opening the door for further skepticism with alternative therapies. It appears that in writing this article, I am again seeing the same shift from a fear led life to one I lead on my own.

Too much of my life has been governed by fear. That chapter is now closing and it is time for me to write the next chapter in my own words.


A Choice

In life we have choices. Choosing gives us power. When we are thrust into a situation in which we have very little choice, it can leave one feeling very powerless. Thus has been my situation for the many years I’ve been homeless in this very tent.

Until now.

For years we have tried to find a way out of our situation and seem to have only dug ourselves in deeper and deeper each time.

We tried to build a house – now we are in debt we can barely cover due to our increasing medical expenses, can not finish building because the majority of the money ran out years ago, and are now left with a half finished structure too toxic for us to live in.

Three years ago we started an intensive regime of supplements which did show much promise in healing us – then a misstep with adding just the wrong type of a much needed nutrient (b12) and all our hard regained health crashed around us in a matter of a few weeks. This was the instigator of the crash from which we are only just starting to pull out of finally, a full year later.

Stuck in a difficult situation, all the motivation in the world to pull yourself out of it yet chained to a body incapable of hardly even moving at times for the most basic of needs. Its enough to drive a person nuts.

While these last few months have passed by and our health declined further and further, all thoughts turned to escape from this situation, no matter the cost. I started rooting through all the ads for rental housing, day after day, looking for the “perfect” place for all our needs – super cheap, hardwood or tile floors, no fresh paint or remodeling, no pest control, no mold, no super close neighbors, no gas appliances, and a landlord willing to work with our MCS problems … in other words, looking for the near impossible.

Even assuming we found a place that matched everything, it would still have the possibility of not being right for us depending on the lifestyle of the last few tenants. If they had been incense burners, smokers, strong laundry soap users, heavy perfume wearers, or any number of other highly toxic aromatic things in daily life, then that too would rule a place out.

Yeah.. darn near impossible at this time.

And then a few weeks ago, Jeremy and I came upon a Choice.

We could keep going crazy looking for an exit to the cage we found ourselves in these last eight years or find within ourselves the key to dissolving the cage bars surrounding us and finally be free again.

I am not entirely sure how we found the ability to liberate our minds from the cage, thus freeing our souls, but I do know it started with a choice to stay.

All these years I never felt like it was by my own choosing to be here in a tent. It was always circumstance that forced my hand, left me no other options. Left me powerless.

As simple as it seems, we decided that barring unforeseen changes we would stay here for the next solid year, work very diligently and without deviation from a healing plan we wrote out that day, and most importantly – we made a choice to stop pacing the confines of the cage but to instead embrace the life around us as our own.

And with that we were freed.
Free Wild Horses


Still Kickin’

Nearly another month and still not doing well.

Jeremy is slowly (very slowly) seeing improvements with the twice daily nasal rinsing using oregano oil, salt, baking soda, and water. The glutathione nasal spray is also helping to heal his sinus infection. Its very slow improvement, a little more energy some days and a small bit more functional, but any improvement is good.

I too saw some improvement off and on this last month but then last week started to take a quick turn for the worse again. My small bits of energy have all but disappeared, daily sinus headaches again, lots of full body nerve pain, low grade fevers, sinuses swelling more each day, and a few other returning symptoms.

Called the doctor again yesterday – we agreed its time for antibiotics. Some who read this blog may wonder why we waited on them instead of going the more normal route here in America and jumping right to a 4-6 week antibiotic course.

When popping a pill for treatment, the medication does not go only to the spot needed. Instead it hits the intestinal track where it is then absorbed into the blood stream through the intestinal lining. There are a few problems with this plan when dealing with an infection at a spot of the body which does not receive as much blood flow as for example, the lungs do.

If the infected area does not have a high blood flow then the amount of medicine it receives will be much smaller and healing will be slower because of this. Also with antibiotics, taking them orally means they do a lot of damage to your intestinal flora. The human body is very dependent on the flora and fauna in our digestion tracks to aid in digesting food and helping our immune system keep bad things in check – like candida yeast.

When one takes an antibiotic, its not only killing the problem you take it for but also our cohabitants inside of us – basically going on a killing spree directed at an important part of your immune system while at the same time throwing a kegger party for the nasties.

I am going to be taking a slightly different approach with my antibiotics, a much safer approach considering the location. Instead of taking a pill a few times a day, I will be using a gizmo which turns the specially made antibiotic into a mist and is then breathed in through the nose via a nasal nebulizer. This greatly isolates the area being treated and will keep a vast majority of the medicine right where it is needed – my sinus passages.

It will still be a course of treatment lasting 4 weeks but the impact it will have on my overall health will be minimal compared to the bottle of pills you pick up at the local pharmacy.

In addition to this, I will begin using an antibiotic ointment for my nose tonight and continue this for about five days. As well, when all the antibiotics are done I will start a long treatment of an antifungal also with the nebulizer. This part of the treatment is expected to take a minimum of 4 weeks but very likely a while longer as the fungal part of the infection is much more stubborn than the bacterial.

Sadly, the antibiotic treatment will aid the fungal infection’s growth (just as it would in the gut with candida) by killing the good bacteria in my sinuses along with the bad, and is the reason for the aggressive antifungal use after the antibiotics.

It is very tiring to think I’ve had variations of this infection since very early March and am just starting a new course of treatment promising to last a minimum of two more months.

I suspect my initial sinus infection in March was bacterial and mostly (or even entirely) cleared up via natural methods. Then the mold levels rose dramatically in the environment around me in April when the weather warmed and became very wet, which quickly allowed a mold infection to begin in my still recovering sinuses. Then with enough time and my immune system being very worn out, another bacterial infection was able to take hold in the last couple of weeks while I was successfully treating the fungal/mold infection.

Hopefully hitting these infections hard with these antibiotics and stronger antifungals will do the trick, letting me again start to have more energy and finally feel better.


Some New Hope

Had another phone appointment yesterday with Dr. Buscher our CFS/MCS specialist. Seemed time to consult him since Jeremy and I had tried everything we could think of doing on our own but to no avail.

It didn’t take Dr. Buscher long to figure out what is very likely happening to us. This year has seen a particularly wet and warm winter/spring which has mold numbers very high. In people with low health, mold can actually take residence in your sinuses and other parts of the body. This leads to all kinds of trouble.

The molds release toxins and then these toxins are in you. No having to inhale them in a sick building or ways to prevent exposure – its already inside. Add to this a bodily reaction to the mold infection taking root in you and causing your immune system to ramp up – inflammation, swollen glands, low fevers, brain fog, memory problems, greater fatigue than normal, and body aches all abound.

We had a mold sinus infection for several months in 2006 and in comparing symptoms it is nearly exact to what we are going through now.

He has us rinsing our sinuses twice a day with oregano oil very diluted which wowie does it burn. This should pass as the sinus tissue begins to heal with the lessening of the infection.

We will also be starting a nasal glutathione spray soon as I can get it made/shipped from the compounding pharmacy as its not something you’ll find at the local drug store.

Dr. Buscher said we should be having noticeable improvements within 2-3 weeks. Fingers crossed!

Its such a relief to have an avenue of recovery planned.

Words hardly express how frightening and overwhelming it can be to see the fragile strings of your life snapping one by one while you are desperately trying to stop your life from dissolving more each day.


Happiness Award is Here!

I had a nice surprise yesterday. My friend Jody Smith over at Ncubator passed the Happiness Award on to me. Thanks for the award Jody, I shall see if I can spread some cheer in kind!

Without further ado – on with the show!

The rules for the Happiness Award:
1.) When you have received this award you must thank the person that awarded you this in the new post.
2.) Name 10 things that make you happy.
3.) Pass this award onto other bloggers and inform the winners.

Rule number 1 – check! Muchas Gracias la Senora Jody… and with many festive hugs!

Rule 2 – As it is my style to be ramble along, this may end up a bit longer than just 10 things. Hope the award doesn’t get revoked for me already breaking the rules! I’m such a rebel! In no order:

Native wildflowers with a wonderful scent.

Being surprised with flowers Jeremy finds and picks because he knows I love getting them.

Little race car, baby bunnies who dart back and forth under our tarps at night because its the only dry place to play.

A hot cup of cocoa made by my sweetie.

Planting onion seeds on May Day that a friend had sent from Australia, despite the customs restrictions against doing so. (no worries, they will not grow well enough to be invasive in the spot I garden)

Having more friends who are in foreign lands than those who are from my own country – no wonder I never fully fit in here!

My spirit rock.

A sun warmed rock to lay topless on and sing off key very loudly while soaking up the heat of a beautiful day.

Hearing the geese circling overhead while trying to figure out which way is North every spring. First gaggle of them was yesterday and it always means summer isn’t far behind!

Cuddling up with Jeremy to watch The Muppets together.

A really good movie that we have saved for a few months until just the right occasion to see it for the first time.

Poking fun at my friend Grant when we instant chat, he’s such a good sport about it! *Poke!*

Finding odd little animals, like salamanders and tree frogs, who make in front of our tent their home for a night before moving on the next day. I love having animals feel safe here for the night.

Silver dollar sized frog and computer cables.

Watching first the parent birds come to feed at our oat pile in front of the tent and then later the fledgling birds. Mom and Pop have to teach them how to eat and its exciting as they learn not to eat rocks but instead the food.

A hot shower outside while big, fat snowflakes are falling all around me. Along with this is listening to the hush of snowfall and watching it blanket the woods.

Jeremy reading to me every night before bed.

Watching my garden sprout from seed, grow, and then fill our bellies.

My garden two years ago.

Clear nights with many stars.

The rare days when I wake up feeling refreshed and good.

Daydreaming of all the things I will be able to do, because I will be getting well again.

Listening to the birds signing every morning. Also with this would be the owls hooting at night near us and coyotes howling at the moon.

Last for this list and saved for the end because it is the very best – Jeremy. All the wonderful things he does, his love and kindness, and his fight to never give up seeing us through everything that comes our way.

Rule number 3. I’ve had a bit of a hard time deciding who to pass this on to as I know several other bloggers who immediately sprang to mind for this. I will send this award on to Laurel of Dreams at Stake because she never stops fighting and keeps finding ways to pass that strength on to others.

That’s it for this brief… er… wander down the lane of Lisa’s happiness!


Hurray for Sunshine!

I am finding it difficult to obtain time to write here as I would like. Jeremy’s computer broke down about a month ago and while he is without it, I don’t really have the same amount of free time to delve into my writing.

We are still on the way to it being fixed – but the motherboard we bought was a DOA and getting the warranty filled on it is taking time. In our slow fashion though we are getting through all the hurdles to finally having it running. Once everything works, we will be turning it on away from camp in a safely covered spot next to the refrigerator and letting it off gas for what will likely be 4-8 weeks before it is ready to come back next the the tent.

Today I decided to do more frequent short updates because the longer or more polished stories I would like to write take far too long in the time I have.

Jeremy started some candida killing medicine a few days ago. He’s taking about a 6th of the full dose and will slowly be working his way up as his symptoms from the candida die off abate some. It is rather surprising how much he is reacting to it. I would have thought three months of him without any sugar or fruit would have had more impact on his candida problem just as it has on mine, even with me eating a little fruit the first two months.

My sinus infection still persists though I really am unsure what is going on with it. I had been feeling as though it was improving, then about three days ago I crashed fairly hard with it. Was thinking I would be here writing about how much crashing sucks when next thing I know, today I’m doing the best I have in weeks.

Perhaps it is the weather as today is the first clear blue sky with lots of warmth that I have seen in several weeks. I think Spring might be making a come back after we just had a few weeks of near freezing temperatures, snow, lots of hail storms, and a ton of rain.

I planted the first part of my garden today! Not much, about a 2’x2′ area of garlic in which I only turned the soil well before planting. It is a start though and felt rejuvenating to my soul.

It was wonderful with the sun warm on my back, sitting down on this nice rock we actually moved here with us six years ago because it is fairly comfy, and peeling the garlic cloves that had already begun to sprout. There is much of my garden left to be planted and I am curious to see what goes in the ground as much of it depends on how my energy comes or goes.

For now, I shall hold with me the memory of my first truly warm and sunny day this year, being able to shuck the outer two layers of clothing I have worn since last November, and soak up the energy of life around me.


Busy Bees

It feels like a bit of forever since I last wrote here. Thank you to everyone who has stuck with me during this slow time. There have been so many comforting and encouraging thoughts sent our way, thank you.

I am very happy to be able to say that allergy season has mostly ended for the year! We are planning a small celebration for sometime this weekend to mark its passing.

This year the allergy month was easier than it has been for the last few years. Though there is no way to know all the factors that contributed to it being less intensive, I am very thankful for the lack of sleepless nights and pain that until now had been my curse.

Now the morning air fills with the sweet aroma of huckleberry flowers in bloom, the sound of bees making up for the lost winter months of gathering, and a warmth has entered the woods as the sunshine is briefly allowed in prior to the maple trees leafing out. This is certainly one of my favorite times of year and it always comes with a happy energy filling my soul with the awakening of a new year full of hope.

A small patch of Trillium near our tent where a young deer sleeps most nights.

A small patch of Trillium near our tent where a young deer sleeps most nights.

I find myself a little torn each sunny day as I want only to go play in my garden yet there is so much needing to be done in camp that has been waiting several months. We have had a very tiring road since last summer’s crash which left us with the lowest our health has been so far. A lot gets left to the side to be done at a later date when life turns to mere survival.

Survival is where we have been for many months now. Through the paleo diet and the tweaking of our supplements by our talented doctor, I think we are beginning to pull out of survival mode and starting to find life again.

My body feels frail after this long road but I can tell that with the extra nutrition of the paleo diet I am slowly regaining muscle strength. It feels good to pick up an object and not feel weakness but strength. Still though, I must be ever mindful of not overdoing life in my enthusiasm to catch up the months passed and still leave enough to rejoice in the spring weather.

I will talk more about our progress in a paleo lifestyle very soon. We are at the end of three months this week and the beginning of a lifetime.


Ever Onwards

The allergy season marches onwards while I remain hunkered down inside waiting for my chance to spring forth and begin my garden in a few more weeks.

The alders above our tent have not fully started pollinating yet, though they are no more than two weeks away from turning our camp yellow with pollen. For the first and only time each year, I find myself hoping more for rain instead of sunshine as the rain cleans the air and brings a few moments peace with it.

cute puppy 1
Enjoy the cute puppy photos this week!

I have had a few people ask me what I do during this time of season. The more conventional stuff sees me taking nearly double my normal prescription antihistamine, 2-3x’s a day over the counter allergy eye drops, and I wear a face mask to filter pollens 24 hours a day when not eating or showering.

I also add in approximately 18-25,000 mg of Vitamin C taken in 1-2,000 mg doses through the day. The C helps more than any one other thing for me. It varies what form of C I take at different times of the day, but each one gets taken at least twice a day. Sometimes I take a buffered powdered form, occasionally one mixed with some quercetin, but mostly just a cheap C with few extra ingredients.

A little meditation each day to help keep my body and mind in a calmer state also helps keep the stress of this season much lower. This is new for me this year as I had not started meditating until this last fall.

Lastly, I make sure to rinse out my nose at least once a day and preferably before breakfast in the morning. I’ve found doing it earlier helps keep my symptoms more calm throughout the day as opposed to doing it the once at night.

cute puppy 2

I am finding this spring season to be a little easier than the last few have been. Though it is possible it is a lighter pollen count this year, I think more likely is the fact of many diet and supplement changes having helped my body to heal more prior to allergy season beginning. Either way, I am happy my allergies are a little better than normal this year.

These are the things I do specifically for my allergies. I also have trouble every spring with my lymph stagnating more than normal which causes a great deal of pain. The pain begins first behind and under my ears then spreads throughout my body. Very little has helped in the past and the size of pain can only be described by saying all I can do when it hits is lie on my side and quietly cry. Pain killers do nothing for it and I have had to wait till it passed on its own.

This year I found some really good exercises to help keep the lymph moving and they take very little energy to do. The difference is astounding. I must remember to do them at least once a day (which can sometimes be harder than it sounds) but usually the pain starting will remind me if I have so far forgotten that day.

Only once did I have any significant amount of pain from the lymph nodes behind my ear this season, an even more welcome change than the lessened allergies thus far.

roxy the pit bull from upside down dogs

We have some stormy weather moving in for the next week or so, a blessed event which I am looking forwards to. With everything extra I must take to keep my symptoms tolerable right now, it has me even more foggy than normal. Some rain should allow me to slow down on the supplements I must take and possibly clear my head for a few days.

Posts will still be sporadic for a few more weeks. A big thank you to everyone who has offered me support during this time and let me know you were looking forwards to the next post here.


Alder the Red

I don’t seem to be the only one noticing a very early spring around here. My springtime nemesis, the red alder tree, has begun a very early pollination cycle.

Every spring, usually around late March to early April, each mature Alder tree begins to ripen their hundreds of pollinating structures known as catkins. The catkins produce an amazing abundance of pollen each spring. Within a few weeks from now the tent tarps will have turned yellow from the pollen accumulating between rains.

Alder catkin on ground in front of tent feb 17, 2010
Unripe red alder catkin I found this morning on our main path.

Since becoming ill nearly nine full years ago, I began to develop an acute allergy to the Alder pollen and it has grown in intensity each subsequent year.

At this point it turns a lovely spring day into a hellish nightmare.

My eyes will become too swollen and light sensitive to see from but water and itch like mad, sneezes so loud they echo back from the trees in the small valley below our tent and go on for usually 7-10 in a row but have been known to last 30 minutes straight, sinuses that somehow never run out of snot, ears which become very tender and painful from the backed up sinus pressure, raw throat and chest due to the power of each sneeze, and heavy sleep deprivation because the severity of these symptoms prevent all but 4-6 hours of sleep at most each night instead of the 9-10 my body requires.

Over the years we have developed wartime strategies for getting through the 4-6 weeks of this Alder induced nightmare. Last year it was not as severe because of a few newly implemented weapons we found to add to my arsenal of allergy calming remedies. Though the difference was small, last year was finally a tolerable miserableness instead of something that pushed the boundaries of my sanity.

Xena battles Red Alder
Today I feel like Xena, armed and ready to battle Alder the Red who lurks above our tent.

My nemesis has started to wage an early war this year, several weeks earlier than most years, and it has caught me unawares. Luckily I am quick and have already begun my preparations for hunkering down and riding out the storm for the next month and a half or so. I think this will be another tolerable spring. I also have a bit of hope that somehow it will be easier even than last year.

This last week has seen some remarkable improvements in energy, endurance, and strength from the Paleo diet started seven weeks ago. I am hoping these improvements lead to me being better able to fight a winning battle in this ongoing war. The last four mornings have consistently seen me feeling physically better and generally even more upbeat than normal. Despite the allergies that pounced on me when I woke this morning, right now I feel surprisingly good!

I shall focus my mind on the garden I will begin to plant as soon as the pollen levels drop enough to allow me outside. Even though our tent windows are open (but have screens down), it does provide a small buffer from the raw windblown pollen lurking to strike the moment I leave for water, facilities or any other reason.

My posts will likely be more infrequent and hopefully being doped up on antihistamines and sleep deprivation will not adversely affect what I do write to more than a somewhat humorous extent. Don’t blame me if my jokes are not funny, if you were as sleep deprived as I am soon to become I am confidant you would find me funny too!


Stars Brightly, Brightly Shining

We have been having some surprisingly cold weather here in Washington State. Given that Jeremy and I live up in some foothills in our tent, its gets just a bit colder still because of the elevation and being on the frozen ground. I think it has been at least four days since it got even as warm as 32 degrees Fahrenheit, the freezing point of water. Most days it’s been hovering in the low 20’s and drops almost ten degrees more during the night.

Two nights ago the power went out for about four hours. Those were a very long and dark four hours while we wondered when it might come on again. It was very good luck to have power back so soon, usually it takes a few days this time of year for it to come back – a few days with no heat but our body warmth. I am very thankful to have gotten power back in four hours, with these below freezing temperatures life would become incredibly difficult without it.

But even with power and heat, not everything is a piece of cake. Anything with much water content is freezing solid; some supplement bottles have been bursting from the expanding liquids inside as they freeze. Cooking is made much more difficult; imagine if you stored all your food, including vegetables, in the freezer before using it. You can cut the vegetables into a hot skillet but they actually freeze back together again before they can be stirred. We can hear the buckets creak outside from where the rain water that was accumulating in them is now freezing solid and expanding. Even a glass of water half drunk and left sitting till next time I am thirsty will freeze before I can get it finished.Ice that was in a bucket
Ice that was in a bucket

The worst of it though is what Jeremy must endure many, many times every day. His boots are always wet because of our poor dish washing facilities. When it is cold like this they freeze and get caked in ice. Imagine having to put frozen, heavy boots on your feet every time you left your bed to do anything at all. Washing dishes, getting a drink of water, cooking, even going to the bathroom all get done with frozen boots on. He could put a different pair of shoes on, but they would just start to freeze too after the first time they got the slightest bit wet.
Jeremy’s Frozen Boots
Jeremy’s Frozen Boots

The good news so far is that the weather has been dry, the nights absolutely breathtakingly beautiful as the moon waxes darker every night and the stars shine magnificently. However, the forecast is for snow in a couple days and I can fully believe it. Any precipitation right now is guaranteed to snow. We have already had a minor bit of snow about a week ago but it was warm enough that the snow did not stick, that will not happen again this time.

After a small reminder of how incredibly cold it can be without power to provide us with means for heating, I find myself praying several times a day right now that our power stays strong till this cold spell is over. Meanwhile, I will enjoy the dry weather, clear nights for brief glances towards the heavens where the amazing stars are reminiscent of a more primal era long past, and the excuse to stay cuddled up to my Jeremy most of the day.


A Windy War is Waged

I love the wind. The wind is power. The wind is a vital energy force that moves through the body when it gusts against you. I have stood upon bluffs where the wind is whipped into a frenzy, so strong that one can briefly lean into it without fear of falling.

Now my experiences with the wind are limited to the forests surrounding me yet I am still awed by its primal power, the massive force that wages war upon the tree tops above.

As a gust blows through the woods you can hear its advance in a light breeze that sets the leaves to chiming as bells announcing the approaching wind. When the full force of the air sweeps through, the tree branches above sound as though they are locked in battle with each other; forever vying for space to sway against the mighty force threatening to topple them down.

The clacking sound of the tops bashing together can be very loud at times and spur a moment of fright as I brace for the impact of the defeated tree’s lost branches. Sometimes it is only a small twig which smacks with the sound of a larger impact upon my tarps. At other times you can hear a large crack followed by a thump in the woods nearby as a much bigger piece of wood has fallen from the sky.

Yesterday we had a small branch come ripping through our tarps after a large gust tore it from one of the alder trees standing watch over our camp.

Alder branch through tarps.

In wind storms such as this, I am constantly reminded that even larger things have the possibility of also falling upon us, yet I can not move as there is no place better suited for our needs while living life from this tent.

Last winter, a large and outwardly healthy limb fell from a maple near our cook tarp. The branch is at least nine inches in diameter and broke in half upon the old chicken coop that sits nearby. I was outside and watched it fall, sure the coop would be the loser and crumple from the thirty foot long tree limb that was quickly descending towards it.

Both Jeremy and I stood in awe to the fortitude of that old coop, before turning and looking at our plastic tarps which cover a fragile tent. We couldn’t help but picture what would have been if the branch had grown out of the tree in a slightly different direction.

Maple limb broken on chicken coop.

It is this maple limb which has haunted me in every wind storm since. I can easily look out the door of my tent as I write this and see the branch where it still sits resting against the roof of the chicken coop. A reminder that there are forces much greater than me at work in these woods.

I fear someday that I may be the unknowing contestant in a mighty duel with an even mightier tree. And I know that my frail body is no match for the strength and weight of the wooden sword that will come down upon me.


A More Simplistic Life

Two years ago, a little Winter Wren started frequenting our camp. We often see them in the bushes in the woods, flitting from one spot to the next without ever a having a care for the giant who stands watching them. They are so small, other than hummingbirds they are one of the smallest birds we have locally. Yet they are also the bravest. As though they trust themselves and their own abilities to escape danger much more than the larger, often times more clumsy, sparrows and juncos.

The wee one who became our regular visitor during winter a couple years ago was a small bit of joy every day. It did not matter what we were doing, when he came around we would pause life for a moment while we watched his beauty.

He moved on during that next summer as bugs became more plentiful and easy to find. We briefly saw him again in the fall but then he disappeared one day. We would allow the spiders to make homes in the corners knowing the wren would find them a tasty snack. But eventually, we had to start clearing them out ourselves and accept that our friend was not coming back. This made us sad because of how easily it could mean he was no longer alive. Old age, a predator, starvation, or the elements could all have taken such a small being.

Winter Wren

Now and then we would see a wren in camp and always wonder if he had found his way back to us, but when the little bird would only briefly stay and look in the obvious places for bugs, we knew it was just another traveler passing through. Time passed and we stopped looking.

A couple days ago another wren came through camp. It did not stay long before flying away. Then we saw it again later that same day. This was new; they don’t usually come back twice, not since our wee friend left. Then there were two of them at the same time, both looking for bugs and double checking where each had just been, that a morsel was not left behind.

You learn personalities of birds when near them enough. Based on this, I can say that the second one has not come back through having only found the remains of the first one’s feasts. But the first wee wren we saw that day has been back many times since.

He visits at least twice each day, hopping around and eying every surface under our tarp for prey. At times we are treated to some amazing acrobatics as he snatches a bite to eat. Jeremy’s monitor is beside an open window in our tent and our bird has found this to be a good resting spot for spying around inside. Never any fear from him, you can see this when he looks right at you from atop the monitor.

As with our first wren, this one also is learning all the spots bugs hide that the other, less curious wrens always miss. I love watching him hop around on the outside of the tent, his antics when he spots something but it turns out to be on the opposite side of some screening and out of his reach. Sometimes his little feet will make small scratching noises on the nylon walls as he scales the side seams of the tent. A quizzical look will appear on his face at times, as he peers around looking for his dinner. You can almost see his thoughts… “If I were a spider, where would I hide?”

I do not think this is the same Winter Wren we had two years ago, but I am very quickly finding myself growing fond of the newcomer to our home. I am looking forward to my wee friend’s visit today and the bit of peace he brings. That ability to take me out from my own world and step into his much more simplistic life for a few minutes.