Sunday, August 14, 2022

What does it all mean, animal kingdom edition.

I'm taking a break from the news this week about FBI raids, attacks on authors, and all that serious stuff to talk about...birds and bugs. You're welcome.


Amongst Pagans (and New Agey folks), there's sort of a parlor game in which, when you see an animal or insect that you've never seen before, or that you haven't seen in a while, you wonder what it means. A couple of authors have written dictionaries or guides explaining what such sightings might mean to you. Steven Farmer wrote Animal Spirit Guides, first published in 2006; Ted Andrews wrote two books on the subject: Animal Speak, first published in 1993, and Animal-Wise, first published in 2004. Both authors have various ancillary items and volumes for their work (for example, Farmer's has an oracle deck; Andrews has a pocket-sized edition of Animal Speak). Both authors give advice on how to tell if a particular animal (or bird, fish, reptile, or insect) is your totem animal, there to guide you along your path and whose most important qualities you should practice in your own life. But it's also possible that the animal (etc.) has shown up with a special message for you.

Take the hummingbird, for example. I have a feeder on my porch, and I've been seeing a number of these little guys. Here's my best photo. I think it's a female black-chinned hummer. 

Lynne Cantwell | 2022
I don't have a copy of Farmer's book, but I do have both of Andrews's books. His entry for the hummingbird covers a lot of ground that many folks already know: they fly fast and can even fly backwards, they may eat 50 or 60 meals a day (mostly nectar, from flowers and feeders, although some eat bugs), and the migration routes that some species follow are thousands of miles long. But then he takes it personal: their flight "reminds us that if we truly enjoy what we're doing, we become light as a feather, and life is rich with nectar." He says their migratory routes make them "a symbol for that which seems impossible."

Here's another example. While Amy and I were at a spa today, a grasshopper hopped up onto the side of our hot tub, then jumped onto a wooden slat next to the tub. 

Amy Milyko | 2022
Grasshoppers, as most of us know, have an amazing ability to leap away from danger and into better situations. They have tympanic organs on their front legs that allow them to sense which direction a sound is coming from, and that helps them make decisions about which way to go. The message, Andrews says, is to "take a chance; take a leap forward."

Then a couple of days ago on the porch, I spotted this tiny drama: an ant, carrying a dead bee. (The photo's not great, but trust me: The ant is on the wall above the bee and has hold of the bee's wing, and the bee is definitely dead.)

Lynne Cantwell | 2022
Ants, Andrews says, are "the promise of success through effort." In this case, the meaning could also involve teamwork; right after I took this photo, another ant showed up and began helping the first ant carry off the bee carcass.

The biggest trick in any of these situations is to not read too much into what you're seeing. The hummingbird, for example: I put the feeder out there with the intention of attracting them (mainly to entertain Tigs, to be honest). So the fact that hummers are showing up at the feeder regularly is kind of a given. The hummers are doing what hummers do. No message there.

The ants-and-bee drama is also likely a case of critters doing regular critter things. I was surprised to see the ant lugging the bee, but Mama Google tells me that ants feed on dead organic matter, including other insects. So those guys were taking a feast back to their colony.

That grasshopper, though. Amy saw it first, and she has a job interview tomorrow, so I'm taking it as a sign that applying for this job was a good idea and that the interview will go well.

On the other hand, we also saw this today: One of a group of young women spilled some sort of coffee drink into a pool where they were all sitting and chatting. After they moved on, a wasp was attracted to the spill and ended up drowning itself in the pool. Andrews talks about the wasp representing "dreams fulfilled through practical efforts" -- but if I were to take any message from this poor critter's fate, it would be to be careful about what you're attracted to.


These moments of observant blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Get vaxxed and boosted!

Sunday, August 7, 2022

A much clearer view.


Lynne Cantwell 2022
So the cataract surgery -- for both eyes -- is in the rear-view mirror. And as you can see from the photo above, which approximates the post-surgery view from my right eye, it went pretty darned fabulously well.

I had a fair amount of anxiety about the procedure ahead of time, given that somebody was going to be, y'know, cutting open my eye. But when I asked friends who'd been through it what to expect, they mostly just said, "You'll love it!" Which didn't really answer my questions. So I thought I'd write a post about my experience while it's all still fresh in my mind, so that I can refer other folks to it later.

I had my surgeries pretty close together -- July 20th for the right (worst) eye and July 25th for the left eye. Usually the procedures are scheduled at least two weeks apart, but my original surgeon ended up needing surgery and so I was rescheduled with a different surgeon whose calendar then had to be worked around. The shorter time frame between eyes didn't seem to make a difference.

The information sheet I received before the first surgery said, in part, "You will be able to see out of the operative eye during the first 1-2 weeks of healing, but your vision may be blurred throughout this period of adjustment." I'll be able to "see", huh? What, specifically, does that mean? Well, here's what it meant for me: 

At the post-op appointment the day after the first surgery, I had 20/50 vision in my right eye. Everything was brighter; I felt a little like I was in one of those old laundry soap ads where your whites are whiter and your colors are brighter. Best of all, the cataract that had been clouding my vision was gone, so I could see things at a distance with startling clarity. And I had my depth perception back, which was really nice.

They took the right lens out of my old glasses, so I kept wearing them -- and I kept relying on the reading-glasses part of my bifocal lens for close-up vision. Here's a thing that is probably obvious to opthalmologists but wasn't to me: our brains are remarkably adept at relying on one eye when the vision in the other eye goes screwy. I had basically been relying on my left eye for months, and that continued to be the case after the first surgery.

Then I had the second surgery, which also went well. At the post-op appointment on the day after the second surgery, I had 20/40 vision in the left eye and almost 20/15 vision in the right eye. I was cleared to drive -- yay! 

Here is the annoying part, though: I am constantly switching glasses back and forth. I bought a couple of pairs of reading glasses before the second surgery, and I find myself wearing them around the house, so my vision is still blurry a lot of the time -- it's just that now it's my fault. Also, I really miss my photogrey (a.k.a. Transition) lenses, which I've worn for the past several decades. I'm required to wear sunglasses outside post-surgery for about four weeks total, so I still need glasses to drive -- it's just that they're sunglasses. Plus any time I need to see a price tag or a menu, I need to swap the sunglasses for reading glasses, or put the sunglasses over the reading glasses, and keep track of them all, and well. It's annoying, that's all. 

The final thing the info sheet warned about: "After your eye heals, you may need to wear glasses for your best vision." The vast majority of folks will need reading glasses -- your original lenses probably didn't focus close-up as well as they did when you were a kid, but the new equipment doesn't change focus at all. And for those of us with astigmatism, the new lenses may not compensate for it. Replacement lenses for astigmatism do exist, but my insurance wouldn't pay for them. So for my best vision, I will need to wear glasses.

But that's actually good news! Because once I have my final appointment in a couple of weeks, I can get a new pair of bifocals with photogrey lenses. I'll be able to ditch the sunglasses and reading glasses, and go back to having one pair of glasses that rules them all. 

And unless something goes really screwy with my vision later on, I'll never need a different prescription for glasses again. Now that's something to look forward to.

These moments of bloggy clarity have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Get vaxxed and boosted!

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Still taking a break.

 As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I'm out this week. See you back here next Sunday, August 7th.


Sunday, July 24, 2022

Taking a break.

 As I mentioned last week, I'm out this week and next. See you back here on Sunday, August 7th.