Thursday, December 29, 2011

# 35 Reflection Common not Capable

Common not all are capable
By Mary K. Mennenga

 In common:
Hopes and dreams, love and sadness, fears and joy, loss and growth.
Life is capable of teaching us many things.
If we are willing to learn compassion.

Some aren't Capable of:
Actively listening
Holding back judgment until both points of view are understood. 
What was your motive for sharing this type of information with me.
I'm sure it wasn't meant to hurt me.

As for me:
Sharing my History is easy it's unable to hurt me.
Sharing feelings of pain, loss and emotions is much harder
For that is my heart
That now stays safely in my chest
Long ago I wore it on my sleeve
Learned how easily it could be bruised, crushed and nearly broken
Would have liked to have learned that lesson much sooner then I did
Oh well it all worked the way it was meant to anyway

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Can't say much about weather in Minnesota.

What a different a year makes, much easier to get around to do just about anything that doesn't include snow. Do I mind heck no, haven't used the snow-blower once, shoveled only 3 times. The day after Christmas we set a record high temperature of 52 degrees, considering the normal high is in the low twenty's, dewpoints are still in between the 30's and 40's, yes I've written about the weather a lot, it's kind of becoming a big deal all over the world. Now I'm not going to get into climate change debate, if folks want to keep on the rose colored glasses, there's not much I can do about that. 

When we don't get the snow in the end of fall and early winter we do tend to get more in January and February so it does even it's self out for the most part. When it's this dry and warm I water the trees that get the most sun or are young, so they don't get too stressed. Need as many carbon eater as we can get here in the city, it won't replace the rain forest but every little bit helps, well it can't hurt. 

It been nice getting out and about without having to deal with all that snow, shush and ice.  Having not to fight so hard to keep the cold out and the heat in. Knowing many of you are needing to fight the cold and snow for the first time in many years if ever. Your houses aren't build for this kind of cold or to bear the weight of the wet snow on your roof. Don't know many up here that don't know what the R factor rating is of the insulation in their walls the roofs is. The roofs on the houses up here are built to hold up to the weight of the snow and the freezing and thawing that's caused by the sun. Not saying all this to worry any one just information to hopefully help you get through this winter. Best of luck to all who are needing to deal with for the first time. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

What my brain and body did automatically

This has worked for me dealing with swelling hands and feet. It may not work for everyone else but here goes anyway. The human body is meant to be in motion it's how the body detox's it self, having limited mobility, spasticity and pain makes it harder to do. Understanding I've got to work at keeping it doing what it used to do, before m.s. got in the way of my body's ability to do this without my needing to think about it all! Heck I didn't even know it did this automatically, until after I talked to my old track coach. Never heard about it from any Doctor, Neurologist and or Physically therapist. Dealing with gout learning why it seems to happen in the toes. Because the body moves harmful things as far away from the heart as it can, how dumb I'm I that's why fluid builds up in hands and feet as far away from the heart as it can get. Understanding that Mobility is so much more then moving from point A to point B. It's amazing how little I know about this shell I've lived within for over 49 years. It's capable of and does try to protect it's self from my many mistakes.  

Moving on (pun intended) to communication brain to and from the body, spasticity and pain. Learning these three work together to break down muscles that adds to pain and is one of the causes of muscle weakness. For many people putting a thought into action is automatic. Most if asked couldn't tell you how they did it or what muscles were used, to do any given task, unless the muscle is or was painful or sore! For them communication is seamless, I for one don't have the ability to think and do, my brain and body doesn't work as a team any more. Messages go from the brain but because of the many scares along path caused by m.s. messages get misdirected or totally lost and or delayed. The central nervous system and spinal cord is only the delivery system when a message doesn't get out of the brain or into the right spot. What this does is hit or miss causing so many different problems, the main one for me is pain here is an example of  one my hope is it help people to understand what they take for granted. Thinking of standing up from sitting sound easy okay lets follow the path of a ms scared brain sends the message oops it got misdirected, nothing is moving find another way to get up without using my knee's, lift myself up using my arms works okay get feet under me done. Now I go to take that step oops here comes that misdirected message to stand up darn it now the muscles in my knee's are trying  ouch in my head I'm screaming I'M ALREADY STANDING SO STOP TRYING  TO OH MY THAT HURTS!! Finally they stop it's a good thing I have knee caps. The last piece as to how this causes muscle weakness, it's when my brain sends the message to the muscle to do work, but when the muscle sends the message back to my brain what's it's done but that message gets lost so there is a disconnect between the brain and the muscle, the brain doesn't know that the muscle it's been working and is in need of an increased blood flow to remove acid that is a by product of working a muscle, then acid isn't removed fast enough it starts working to break down the muscle making it weaker. This also true with spams At first I'm so glad it stopped pulling, I want to rest but now I've got to do what my brain should have done by increasing the blood flow. How can I do that I'm not in control of my blood flow that's my Brain's job. But I do Understand that moving will cause my blood flow to increase that with movement the brain will know that to do, I have to find a way to help build a new connection. 

Please remember I'm no Doctor,  This is my way of trying to make sense of that m.s. is doing, to the little things the brain did before m.s. of course I didn't know anything about what the brain does automatically until after I got m.s. Just wondered how or if the little stuff was the cause of losing the big stuff? As always I still have no answers just a whole lot of questions. 

As to swelling hands and feet what work for me is by increasing blood flow using movement even small ones help me. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas this year here will be brown.

As you may already know I talk about the weather a lot, many folks in Minnesota do. Last year we had so much snow, this year we've had more rain then snow. With above normal temperatures it's keeping the heating cost down, after the cooling season that was much higher than I've seen before, it's helping the household budget to catch up. The snow lovers here are unhappy, earlier this week we had .34 inches of rain, that would have been 3~4 inches of snow, meaning the ski resorts are ice but are again making snow, I'll admit I like snow at ski resorts more then on the roads and sidewalks makes getting from point A to B and back again much easier. Mother nature I think maybe taking some of the same drugs that I am, or maybe shes having some fun with Mr. Frost. Yes I do know it about climate change, being it's so close to Christmas just want to give a lighter spin, for a short time. Now that it's gotten colder the birds are coming back to the bird feeder again and the three baby squirrels are getting a thicker coat of fur and are filling out nicely, I'm almost sure they'll make it through the rest of the winter. As for the brown, I don't mind it's nice being able to get out this time of year. The snow will come sooner or later, it always does just taking each day as it comes.       

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I've been well M.S. is making NO trying to be...

... A kill joy to put it nicely! Sorry I'm not given into that crap wait bull crap. 
Time for a little chat with my brain yes I talk to my brain No it does not answer not so far, one of these days who knows. However it has a lot to answer for! Like why does it not listen or at least try to find a way to limit the number of times it tells a muscle to do what it never did before m.s. I don't have or take dummy pills! (some may not agree) Come on making two muscle work against each other is painful and why did it let that message get through sense less. I'll think about getting up, after I do stand up without the help of my muscles. I swear my brain waits until I'm upright and taking the first step, that's when it sends the message, yep it gets through, so the those muscles try and thankfully don't get my knee to go backward the knee cap gets in the way. Wish my brain would listen to me, I thought I gave better sense then that.

Not going to fix what wrong with this and no I'M not "NUTS" but M.S. is totally not letting me talk to my BRAIN!  

Friday, December 9, 2011

#34 Of reflections One cold wind

I wrote this when I was in the eighth grade
after learning how fast life can change.

One cold wind
By Mary K. Mennenga

Love is as delicate as a flower
In the fall
One cold wind 
Could destroy it all
The same seed
Has taken root 
In two different heart's 
It will always
Be there 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Christmas Reflection

Last year I didn't do the Christmas decorating thing, with my Mom gone and Jane's sister Karen so sick. Putting up a Christmas tree and all that goes with it, was too much for me to handle at the time. This year I've been making up for not doing it last year. Of course I hadn't taken into account having Primary Progressive M.S. and losing abilities that I had last year. Maybe I should ask for help but knowing if I did, I'd get all kinds of help, some in the form of doing it for me, which is taking over control, that isn't the type of help I want or need. The trouble is all my memories of  doing Christmas decorating with Mom at her house, even after I had moved out. We would go to get her Christmas tree at stands that pop up after Thanksgiving or go cut one down. Her requirement was wide and not too tall. Every year we went, At the stand she always pick the one that was a bit off that no one else seemed to want. At the cut your own tree place, never did cut one down she would see a poor discarded tree that someone had already cut down then have me hold it up and give it a spin, then declare it to be her Christmas tree! Telling her the first few times how bad the flaws were, some had two trunks or shaped like an S or a C. But she would hear none of that. Saying only that it was perfect because it was going to be a Christmas tree. After we got it home I would put on her 500 lights, working to hide as many of the flaws as I could. Together we hung all of her ornaments, each  had a special meaning and many had been gifts from people so dear to her. Each year after sitting down to check our work, that's when I realized she was right it truly was a perfect Christmas tree with all the love hanging on it.

My Christmas tree is up with it's 500+ lights, yes I can feel all the love coming from it and I know she's enjoying it with me.
Karen and her sisters
Char and Jane

Passed away October 4, 2011
My Mom Adele and me
October 25 1930 ~ April 13, 2010
Here is the tree that brought back so many wonderful memories of Christmas.
Thanks for reminding what Christmas is all about
Caring, Sharing and
Christmas or Xmas
Either way you write it
You can't take Christ out of 
Both mean the exact same thing!


Sunday, November 27, 2011

What is it that makes life grand.

As the season of sticks is replaced by the season of white and cold. 

For me it's the simple things that make living life grand, so here are few of mine; When I'm in that moment just before I begin to laugh. Listening to a story that I'm sure I know how it will end, and it turns out I was wrong. Watching as the squirrels and birds seem to work together so all get their fill. Seeing a rain fall change everything from brown to green, walking out just as it stops and hearing the ground soaking it up, some folks call it watching the grass grow. Seeing each season come and than go.      

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

This Thanksgiving is different.

For the first time in my life I don't feel it's necessary, to go anywhere for Thanksgiving. Jane and I decided we are going to stay home, it's the first time that it will be just the two us. Got all the fixings before the snow started falling. A good thing because it's really coming down, no it's not a repeat of last fall yet. It will warm up and be gone before Turkey day. The first snow fall of winter was a mix of wet heavy snow, sleet and the white fluffy stuff. It has all become ice and I'm really glad I don't drive any more!

With my physically abilities slowly slipping away, things are a bit more challenging that's all! Still not giving in or giving up that continues as always, and picking my battles very carefully. Being more cautious about where and what I'm putting my energy into. With limited resources I don't waste it, by knowing the choices I make have ramifications, that can and have stopped me dead in my tracks, taking day's or even weeks to recover from. Finding a balance isn't easy when I don't know what I'll have to work with each day.

My new normal is a loss that I'm not adjusting to very well, it started a while ago, with a high pitched ringing in my ears. Have I mention how much I loathe and despise high pitched noise, it's very distracting to the point that it's almost impossible to get and stay focused. When it drops down a few octaves its much easier to deal with, no need to worry I'll find ways of work around it. In the last few weeks I've noticed I fatigue faster and it's taking longer to recover, with these two things it's affecting my ability to communicate verbally and to write. Change isn't one of my strong suits, honestly I've never handled change well. It's the reason I call change adjustments makes me feel more in control, I prefer to face life head on with open eye's.  

The adjustments I've made to lower my stress level. First I'm not going use chat on face book,  the type is too small for me to see. The second is talking on the  telephone, some folks will find this hard to believe because, I could and did spend hours talking on the phone mostly with Mom. When talking with other people much longer then they wanted too. I've been told this many times, "You can turn a ten minute phone call into an hour or more!" a bit like my mother. Now I don't even answer the phone because, it's so frustrating trying to listen and talk, after I hang up, trying to remember why they had called what it was all about I even started taking notes Grrrr. It's just gotten to be too much of a hassle, face to face is easier to handle but, the best way I think is to just use e-mail, this way they can respond, when they have time. So far it's working out great for me, no longer do I need to give it a second thought, if I'm bugging them or not.       

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The brain, body and or mind and heart?

After looking at what the brain does automatically, without us needing to think about it at all. With all the data, studies and research that's been done and or are still on going. The answer's are theories and hypothesis! Researchers and scientists question each others scientific method. The  most honest I've found are the few that said "this technology is in it's infancy". This hasn't been a waste of time at all, I've learned that many of the huge long words that are used is a fancy way of saying "they aren't really sure"! Here is what I have learned and witnessed myself.
So take it as you will.

The three parts that make the body work are; the Brain, central nervous system (nerves and spinal cord) and muscles including tendons, ligaments and everything else. The most important is the central nervous system. It works as the body and brain's information highway,  everything goes through it and it's a two lane highway. More about that in a bit. M.S. as we know is a scaring on the nerves in the brain and on the spinal cord, we all understand it sucks. None of us would wish it on anyone!

So much is still unknown like how or why the central nervous system, continues sending signals from the brain to the muscles and the muscles keeps sending signals back to the brain. When so many seem to get lost. This is painful because the scars in the brain get in the way, of the message from the muscle saying it's done, doesn't always get through so it just keeps doing what the brain told it to do pull. Even though the other muscle's used to do what needed doing is done, those messages got through and the muscle's stopped pulling right away. Getting people who don't have m.s. to understand this rarely happens, even as they watch the tears of pain roll down my cheeks some just turn away! The few that have helped by rubbing the  muscle, have told me it's a bone but when it finally stops pulling a few thought they broken something, but the look of relief on my face tells them the truth. The central nervous system keeps sending the messages back and forth giving the brain and muscle a chance to make a new connection it's not a reconnect. As long as the brain is learning it's making new connections all the time. No I'm not saying it can make anyone better, a lot of the time there is no way to repair all or any of the damage done by M.S. and to stroke victims and people with head injury. However there are some that are able to regain abilities again, in the research studies of people. That Doctors have said they will need to be in long term care for the rest of their life. Because to much of the brain has been damaged. There are many case studies of people who, can and do end up living alone. There are many theories as to how this happens, but with no smoking gun to prove anyone of them right, it seems to be hit or miss. The One theory that I think makes sense to me anyway. Is that the brain and muscles are making or finding new or different pathways of communication, by passing or working around the damage. Of course it's hard to prove this theory, partly because the people are busy living their life. To sit through all the tests Doctor's who told them they would never be capable of anything that they are doing. Don't blame them one bit, when they don't feel anything is wrong with them. Only a very few get back most of what was lost, to function as they did before but somehow they seem to find a way to enjoy what they have and continue doing the best they can with what they have to work with.

This of course is only my opinion from the research I've done, and my own experience of watching and seeing what the brain is capable of recovering from.  
My Auntie Jo after her stroke while having triple by pass surgery done. The only MRI they had was the one right after her heart surgery. According to the Doctor she had lost 2/3 of brain function. She never would sit still so they could do another MRI. It took her two years of rehabilitation to be capable of living alone and for over 14 years that exactly what she did. She did her own cooking, cleaning, bathing and dressing. Later she moved out to California easier to get around no snow, most of her children had moved out there years ago. Twice a year she came back to Minnesota for the state fair in the summer and in February to go with her two sister's on vacation to a resort in northern MN. The one thing she said  when I asked her how do you do it? "Do what! Just move it or lose it that's all, ain't nothing to it!" as she shrugged her one shoulder.

With this and the research I've done in the last month, reading what people with seemly just mind over matter and heart, are able to do. All I'm able to do is stand in awe of them. Here are a few of the statements some of the people from the research I've look at, have used to describe how they do that they do: The impossible just takes longer. It all just figured it's self out. Patience, persistence and thank God for some good luck. My Doctor quit on me, telling my kids I was too old! Heard he died a few year ago, I don't give up or quit maybe that why I'm still kicking and he isn't!
As I'm sure you have noticed, not one of them really told how they do that they do. Not sure if they really know how they do it or not. Understanding now why research in this area maybe harder to do. When it seems people don't know how they do what do themselves.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The fall winds have been blowing

For weeks now my goodness! Still have many leafs that need to fall,  winter isn't far away now. Stocked up on bird food, still need to do more winterizing. So far I've heard 1) It's going be a repeat of last year 2) Colder without as much snow 3) More snow and less cold. What I do know is it's coming no matter what it brings, it will be dealt with as always with a bit of moaning and groaning of course! It can't be controlled too many things to factor in.

My herbs didn't make into the house so I'll be starting them from seed, most were to big to come in the house anyway. In May hopefully I'll be able to put them outside. Planning the garden will help me get through the winter I'll wait until February to make a firm plan, in March I'll start getting my seeds, all my starter pots are cleaned up and ready just waiting. Got some bulb's to put in next spring. The outside of the house is just about done, just need to get the last bit of raking done.

Love this time of year bright sun shine without the heat and dew points in the mid 30's high today 50 feels almost heavenly to me, no overheating did get a little warm just stopped in the shade cooled me off right away. All tucker out came into the house for a rest, sat and watched the birds and squirrels at the feeder they are very entertaining as they gather all they can and hide it away. The birds that stay here are getting a bit rounder. Less of the ones that are flying south but they are easy to spot, so thin and lean little flying machines. A group of them comes in and the bird feeders empty in not even an hour. They stay for a day or two at the most and off they go again won't see them again until spring, when they'll do the same thing. Could sit and watch them all day. If only I could find a way to get the leafs to fly into the bags, yes that is a bit of a stretch! Now begins the season of trying to keeping the heat in!  

Saturday, November 5, 2011

#33 relfections Misunderstanding

Misunderstanding it's not a choice
By Mary K. Mennenga

It's your life to live
The choices made from this point on aren't going to be easy
Priorities will need adjusting to allow for more flexibility
Realizing there is a way around or through any obstacle
That lands in the path when willing to think outside the box
Everyone has limitations no one is alone
In needing to deal with limitations of the mind and body
 Because no one does something the way you do
There is no right or wrong about it
Instead it's finding a way around a limitation
To do what needs doing done
Having been independent, self-reliant letting go of control
Is a process that takes time adjusting to!
With understanding and patience from everyone
And yes that applies to us most of all
Because you aren't in control of what's taken from you
Trusting your own decisions is hard
Fear by it's self will stop the ability to reason things through
Thought into action isn't what it used to be
With the lines of communications spotty at best and or blocked
Very little is automatic about us
It's by trial and error, we get anything done
It's not about wanting or needing to do something
It's if able to do anything
Finding anyone outside of  M.S. to understand this is rare indeed
For the few that took the time to understand
I truly want to thank you 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Now it a year since I started this blog.

Looking back over the year of my posts, I haven't written on a wide range of topic's. My written reflections were the main reason I started this blog, for the most part I've gotten more good feedback than bad. Being added to M.S. bloggers and having some of my writings on The Carnival of M.S. Bloggers has been a highlight for me. Lisa thank you so much for finding me, I had tried to find other M.S. Bloggers for months with no luck at all on my own. 

Before last year the only thing I did on the Internet was to order supplies and take on line tests when I worked at Jiffy Lube. It been a good year, couldn't have done many of the things I did do this year without help. In one way or another many people have helped me in small and big ways. Summing up my first year with Internet and all it has to offer. What I've learned is mostly good, finding things I still need to learn, some stuff I don't think I'll ever understand but that's not going to stop me from trying to learn. Will I crash my computer again more than likely! Good thing is I now know how to restore it and use the repair disc. The one thing I can do for hours and hours is research, no matter the topic. To bad when I look for answers all I end up with are more questions. Isn't this suppose to be the information age, feels more like the disinformation age at times. Hey! maybe we could have the telling to truth age? Nope to many folks just want to win, and get nothing done. Hope is not lost I've just misplaced it, no need to worry I know it's around here some where, so for now I just take it on faith. Thanks to all who stopped by!    

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

#32 Fighting an unseen foe

Fighting an unseen foe
For Karen as she began waging war against
Colon Cancer

You didn't even know of it's existence until a short time ago
Getting you're head around what's happened and what's next
Your not one to play the blame game
Or feeling sorry for yourself 
Instead you've chosen to fight with every tool you have
Keep in mind that fighting and pushing yourself too hard
Will only weaken you
Learning to lean on those who love you for assistance
Is an adjustment that's hard to make
The price for not making it will cost you even more
In terms of energy you'll need to fight
So pick you're battles carefully
Your patience will continue to be tested
Because you want to do things for yourself
The question is should you?
If yes let no one get in your way!
Remember the stronger you are the longer you're in control of
Of your choices
Take each day as it comes
Live knowing what's important is being with the people you love
Making the most of the time we have
By doing our best to live life
Holding nothing back

By Mary K. Mennenga
Karen M. Helin
October 4, 2011

Monday, October 24, 2011

# 31 Reflections If you could see past disability

If you could see past disability
By Mary K. Mennenga

To see the person
Who isn't willing to quit or given up
On living life, hope and love
Life is about
Making the most out of what I've got to work with
It's not about what I can no longer do
Instead it's learning new ways of working within the limitations
Living life has brought to all of us
Pride is a force that will need to be dealt with
It's one of the things that can defeat anyone
Remember I'm are still in control of my choices
Will I make mistakes of course that's how most learning gets done!
All I ask is your understanding that
If the reason you're helping is because you think you have to?
That kind of support feels more like pity to me
Instead of being something you want to do with me

Honestly pity is just another form of guilt
That has nothing to do with me

Friday, October 21, 2011

Dog sitting Grey girl

Is a treat she is a retired Greyhound and sleeps 20 hours a day.
Isn't she cute, Grey girl is our friend Ruth dog, don't see her to often any more that okay. Jane is more then ready to get another dog, I'm the one who's don't ready to get a dog yet. After Honey girl and my m.s. not sure I can handle a dog so I'm dragging my heels. Here are the dogs we dog sit for this is Mr. Owen  he's quite the little man.
We also dog sit for our landlord dog's Goldie and Glenda, they are Mother and daughter and don't get along with other dog's. Glenda the dark one is very protective of her Mom.
They are all nice and I can handle and take care of them, for a week or two, right now that about all I'm able to do. Having a dog and doing right by him or her is a whole another thing, keeping a dog untrained for any reason isn't right. Yes, I know training is hard work for both the person and the dog not doing it isn't being fair to the dog or anyone who interacts with them. It's the main reason I'm not ready for a dog. Now once everyone knows and follows the rules the relationship grows into a bond of trust and love that rarely needs words. The relationships I've had with animals have been better than most of the human relationships, but that's my fault because for me it's a matter of trust. Loving almost all animals, sorry not a fan of mice not even in a cage. One day a may have another dog, but right now I enjoy dog sitting and it's more than enough, they each have wonderful and different personalities, just like their owner's. It's time to make another leaf pile for Grey girl to lay on, it's one of her favorite things to do here in the fall.
  Oh so sweet don't you think

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


It's still hard to believe all the weather records, that have stood for so many years, have been broken within the last 365 day's. Including a few new all time highs and lows temperature, reaching dew point temperature never seen here before. Being aware this is happening all over the world, maybe I'm being small minded for thinking more about my little postage stamp than the kind of shape the whole planet is in.

Now that fall has come I think, having eight days of temperatures in the 80's in October isn't something I've seen here before. My garden is finally done and put to rest until next spring, all the flower, rock and shade and perennial gardens are ready for a long winters sleep. All are very small and not much work at all. Still watering everything it's been a dry hot and windy fall so far, the herb's aren't ready to come into the house just yet. The potted plants and flowers have been cut back and heavily watered, covered and just waiting for the snow. That this year I hope will not fall and stay for a month or so.

There is still much to do before the long cold winter sets in, now we go from keeping the heat out to keeping it in, which is much harder to do when we don't get above 32 degrees for six to eight weeks and when the cold winds of January and February start blowing in, stealing the heat in the house away. Making winterizing now a must. It's next on the to do list for us also doing the last window washing until spring, that is only important to me. So I can watch and feed the birds and squirrels all winter long, maybe I'll even get to see a hawk stop by for a snack, as long as it's willing to take it to go, it's not entertaining to watch them eat. It's what I call my equal opportunity feeder winter is hard on all the animals up here, keeping the balance of nature isn't easy to watch it is however necessary. It's been a while since my last post, now that much of the work outside is done, I'll be doing more writing once again.

So far this month has been too much about saying goodbye then saying hello. I'll be glad to see this month end, it's been an emotional one in many different ways for both Jane and I, it will all work out the way it should in the end, because it always does. It's the transition that's hard on everyone, going from what once was to what it will be. Not knowing what that may end up being or if that too will also end is harder still. The unknown is a troubling place to be.       

Monday, October 10, 2011

The question's of life and death!

A dear friend Karen who is also my caregiver Jane big sister passed away on Oct. 4th 2011 of stage four colon cancer. Karen was a fighter and battled it every step of the way when the cancer moved into the spine soon after that her battle ended. Until the end she stayed true to who she has always been.

Karen will be missed by "her Boy's" as she called her husband Bill her son's Billy and Matt, and her family and many friends I'm so glad she counted me as one, she was one of the kindness people I've known. Jane and Karen have always been close, Jane has taken Karen's death hard, Karen never tried to change her or knock her down or made her feel small. Karen and Jane relationship was build from love Karen was more than a sister she was also Jane's best friend throughout Jane's life, no one stood up for Jane the way that Karen did, or loved her without condition. Their bond has stood up through the good and bad times in each other's life, they always had each other's best interest at heart. I may not be the best judge for this because, I have no sister's of my own but if I did I would want a relationship like the two of them have shared. The closest I've come to the kind of relationship they shared, was with my Mom and that's not the same at all.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

When friendship's #30 Reflections

When a friendship changes or ends
By Mary K. Mennenga
Inspired by a very dear friend

Will show where the strength of your character is based
Is it based?
In resentment and bitterness with hostility and malice
What could be gained by this nothing?
But fear, mistrust and everyone keeps hurting
Then it's more about keeping score of who was hurt the most
The scar's it leaves on the heart's that never seem to fade
Or is it based
On understanding that no matter how hard we tried
Things don't workout the way we thought it would
It's not about blame or faults it's letting go
Understanding we've learned more than we lost
Gaining knowledge that sometimes letting go of a friend 
Is the best way, to truly be a friend to them
Remember the good and let the bad fade.
I know I will

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A few tid bits and odd stuff

That I've realized over the years, things I still don't understand and some that I may have a handle on why I keep making the same mistake over and over again? Answer: Somethings just take longer to learn!

Doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result does not happen, no matter how hard I try! 

Knowing in my head what has been said is true, then why is it so hard for my heart to believe? Is doubt stronger than trust and faith no, that's not it! Because the mind is what thinks and the heart is what feels. So it's the mind that is trying to preventing the heart from getting hurt.

When doing a job half ass, that's exactly what it looking like when it's done.

The amount of time wasted trying to get out of doing something, is time I'll never get back.

Why is finding faults within myself is so easy, but fixing them is so hard.

Why after being told I did a good job or someone tells me I'm nice. Why do I think I'm being told what I want to hear instead of the truth, that I really suck at this.

Why do people not understand when I say I'm fine that I am and let me be.

Having a conversation that does not include M.S. is nice, when I'm enjoying a conversation about things like pets, babies and general news stories and focusing on all the good stuff! Why do people feel the need to bring up my m.s.?

One of the fastest ways to end a conversation is to start talking about politics, religion and or the economy and health care. Of which we have little control of anyway. Getting people to agree to disagree on any of these subjects is easier said then done, that's what I've found! But staying away from these subject's tends to leave a gap in what affects our life's in so many ways almost every day.

Taking the good with the bad isn't as easy as it sounds to do. Giving them equal value is harder still, but important for a honest balanced view.

Holding on to good memories is great, as for the bad just let them go! There is no value in carrying all that rubbish around with you, it only weighs you down. It's hard to move forward when you keep looking back at your life.

When judging the mistakes you made in your past, it's good to remember your not the same person you were back then. If you were you wouldn't see them as mistakes. Life really is a learn as you grow kind of thing. That's why it has a beginning a middle and an endding. And it happens to be true for all living things, well mammals for sure.

Yes there are many more I'm sure. These aren't answers to any questions, it's only looking from my point of view no matter if I'm right or I'm wrong, It's how I see it right now!

Monday, September 19, 2011

The fall season is here.

I do enjoy fall yes it is a busy time, with so much to get done so I'm ready for winter. Last year winter came in so fast I got caught with gas in the lawn mower, the snow blower still in the back of the shed. Granted I did need to cut the grass only two weeks before we got 6 inches of snow that didn't melt and was only added to until it final started melting in March. This year so far is starting out more normal with dew points below 50 degrees just two days ago the dew point was 38 degrees. In Minnesota the land of 10,000 lakes, dew points in the 70's and 80's isn't what we are knew for. In a few short Months we'll be back (hopefully) to highs in the 30's and lows in the single digits. This year I'm getting ready for it early, the garden will stay but some of the cutting back I'll start this week like the dogwood bushes and the spring plants. With some help I'll thin the hosta plants this year they got so big and thick, I'm thinking of putting them along the fence it would cut down on the trimming next year. Here are some the plants I grew this years with a few odds and ends added in.

These two below are now over 3 feet tall was told they won't grow too tall may 16 inches if that, my goodness were they ever wrong, I was planning to bring them in the house for the winter, I'm not sure I have the room for them now! 
This tropical plant and the flowers below it. To say it's rare for it to flower here in Minnesota outside, is an understatement indeed. Having had six blooms already and may still have two or three more yet to come is amazing!  

Yes I feed all who come be it squirrel's, bunny's and of course the birds. It became a circle of life feeder as a few hawk's came to dine as well thankfully they took their food to go. Most of what they took was mice and no one seemed sad to see them go.

 The bird feeders are for the smaller birds like sparrow's, swallow and the wren's, finch's and the small woodpeckers the downy and hairy. This one in the picture maybe Northern Cardinal but I'm not so sure, it sure is cute whatever it is.

Now that I've had my rest, it time to get back to getting things done. It is so nice to be able to be outside again, with all the heat we had this summer I didn't get to stay outside for long. Here's to hope for a longer fall then we had last year, the fall color's should be grand here with all the rain and heat we had this year. 
About the hawk's we live in the city but are just a few blocks from the Mississippi river that's where they nest the eagles will pass by us on their way to winter in Redwing, Minnesota, the hawk's tend to hang out here until the end of December. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I'm part of the problem that makes M.S. invisible

Yep its true! This came as a shock to me, please give me a chance to try and explain what I mean. This is what I'm just beginning to understand about myself. When I'm attempting to tell people what M.S. is doing to me, knowing I look fine to them and many don't understand, telling me it's all in my head and their right just not in the way they meant it, people can't relate to what it does, for them it automatic they want to do anything and their bodies do it without them needing to think about it much at all. For them the lines of communication from the brain to the muscles and back again work's and yes I still remember when that was true for me as well. So understanding that's what M.S. does, isn't something they have experienced. Hell they don't even know how they do what they do half time anyway! Because they can't relate, I'm told to do what works for them (sound familiar?) and say, if your tired just take a nap! When I'm suffering from m.s. fatigue it isn't about needing sleep, I feel more like a dead battery what won't take a charge. When I do  take a nap as suggested I'll end up worst off then before! Because my brain and muscles aren't working as a team. Instead less than half of the messages from my brain to my muscles and my muscles telling my brain they're done aren't getting through. Making it feels like my own muscles are trying to pull my joints apart and not one of them is listening to me as I try and fail to get them to work together. That takes stress to a brand new level, as I slowly get my brain and muscles back under control for the most part. Now I'm back to where I was before I took the dam nap in the first place and now I'm running late! Still dealing with the stress from the one who said to take a nap. At this point I do wish they could live in my head for a minute, if they did maybe then they would understand but, more than likely they would come out stark raving mad!

Now this is the invisible part
How many people with m.s. tell anybody about the battles we fight every day just to function? Not many, well I don't anyway. What I do without even thinking, by the way I didn't know I was doing this until two weeks ago. Is to wear colors that  look good on me, I smile, laugh and ask people how they are before they can ask me. The little things I do without thinking like; opening my eye's, relaxing my face muscles. Lets face it there are a few things like bodily dysfunction's that even people who have them don't want to talk about! When people ask how I'm doing? I don't lie, when I say I'm fine because I am, the way I see it is I'm where I want to be with the people I want to be around and that's more important then what m.s. is doing to me every day.

The big one for me is when someone talks about the pain they are going through and tells me it nothing like what you go through every day, I nip that right away. Comparing one pain to another isn't the point, because understanding how pain can and does affect everything around me, doesn't make the pain they feel any less important to them. Knowing how pain can make even breathing seem almost impossible! If I don't want someone to dismiss my pain, how could I dismiss the pain their feeling. Knowing  just maybe I could help them in some way, to ease their suffering letting them know they aren't alone. 

The amount of pain suffered isn't important
It's the compassion learned from dealing with pain
That can make a difference for any one dealing with pain

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Back from my family reunion.

Oh my! I had forgotten how much fun my family is. A good time was had by all, of course as always there was more than enough food with the leftovers we could have feed a small Army! Not to worry we don't waste food leftovers are a stable in the Kjenaas family and having some very good cooks doesn't hurt either so no one went hunger. Those of us watching our BMI didn't. This was about catching up having fun together as a family, there was a bit of drinking, involved of course just enough to loosen folks up a bit. It was a blast that will not be forgotten any time soon, I'm sure. In two years we'll do it again, spending time with family is great, I love all of my family.

I had the best time, I did all the things I wanted to do. My family understand that I do the best I can within the limits that m.s. has put on me. One look at me seemed to show them I'm okay and no need to worry about me. Not seeing one look of pity was great, not once did I feel I in the way. Having  a wonderful family helps a great deal, I also try not too stress them out by doing more than I should. The first day I came close I know, my limit was reached so Jane and I went back to the cabin so I could rest. That night people stopped by to visit, remarking that we had the smallest and cutest unit. The railing on the deck was just the right height to server as a bar rail, I made one more trip out to visit with family at my cousin Peter's was two cabins down from mine.
Cute little place.

Just the right height for visiting!

On Saturday my brother Brian pointed out that he had seen I was over doing it and he was concerned I put his fears to rest because Jane and I had dealt with that, so I didn't let it happen again. The rest of the family went to the amusement park, and or played golf and took the booze cruse on the lake, neither Jane or I wanted to do any of that. So we stayed at our cabin doing what we love doing cooking, relaxing and after our burgers the night before on the grill more flame then grill. There was no way I was going to have Jane cook her marinade mesquite chicken wings on that very dirty grill so I cleaned it, and was rewarded with her telling me it looked brand new! Not one flame up as Jane cooked 3 lbs. of her wings, while she was cooking I cut up veg's and making dip, and snacks for us. the reunion dinner was suppose to start at 6 pm, like anyone was going to hold this group to a time table that why I made us a snack okay lunch! I also needed to taste those wings 4 did the trick, same as always great! Jane makes great wings, some time after 7 O'clock the dinner got started after everyone seemed done eating and with only 8 wings left it was time for me to take a break and get the wings in the refrig, yep that will be for breakfast. Going back to the party after a rest, it was time for a dance, the gal's did a great job visited more, long day and I didn't over do it once, gave myself  a pat on the back for that one!

Sunday was cold 70 degrees and then it started to rain got the heat going so Jane could warm up. Going and getting my last visiting in and we checked out at noon and headed for home.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Been working on one of the first pages I did.

When I posted this the first time I couldn't read it through and now I hope it will be easier to read. Sorry about that folk's!
The title in pages is "This is the dream I had" the whole title is. 
Shortly after I lost my best friend
Who just happened to be a dog.
This is the dream I had

Working on this page has always been hard. Jane and I got Honey girl as a puppy just six weeks old, all of her life 13 and half years. Honey girl and I did everything together, making some jobs harder to get done, I really didn't mind she kept me entertained, with the ways she tried to help. Most of the time it involved a rock or a ball, some how she thought it would help! 

The last six mouths of her life had been hard on all three of us. Honey had gotten sick becoming so dependent on me she wouldn't even go outside without me and if we could she wouldn't stay outside long enough to get her business done. When she lost her hearing and her always needing to be so close to me. It had caused me to fall many times, some were very painful for me because I made sure I didn't fall on her. Now this wasn't information I cared to share. Honey girl had gotten to the point that if she couldn't find me, she got so upset, it made her sick. Sleeping in bed was out of the question because the bed was too high for her to see me, so she would whine. So I started sleeping in my chair, with the added stress my M.S. really started acting up. Jane was trying to help but Honey girl wouldn't do anything without me, so of course I just got madder at my body for not doing what I asked of it and that just made the M.S. worst yet, at the time blaming Jane and myself was easier. Because I refused to blame Honey girl I loved her so much. Honey girl got much worst unable to get up without help and lost all control of her bodily functions. It was time to stop her suffering. Jane and I knew, Honey Girl hated going to the vet. she would be sick for days even if it was just a check up. Neither of us wanted her to go through that kind of stress. A friend knew of a vet that would come to the house to put her down in her own bed, with me and her toys all around her.

When the vet came Honey girl seemed so happy to see this vet! Honey wasn't one who let people pet her, when she first met them, she had always been shy at first unless, you wanted to play catch or to play with her toy. The vet and her assistant had nothing like that, but Honey girl pushed passed me to greet them. Did she know why they were there? Was she glad they were going to put an end to her suffering? The vet give her a check up and told me how very sick Honey was, it would have only been a matter of days before she would have passed away on her own. The vet was surprised she had lived this long considering how sick she was. Honey girl and I went outside and played catch one last time and she went potty! We went inside and she went straight to her bed and laid down with her toys, I was petting her as I watched as the light in her eyes slowly faded away. A few weeks later I had gotten some sleep and was beginning to get my energy back, then I felt so guilty I cried for hours, in the hallway it still smelled like Honey Girl. Then I started thinking was the real reason I put Honey Girl down, for selfish reasons? That night I got my answer in the form of a dream, I didn't want to forget it! You know how that happens, so I called my Mom and told her about it. She stayed on the phone with me until I got it all down. (in pages it's This is the dream I had) I have only dreamed about the field of grass a few time, the last time was a few months after my Mom passed away. That dream I couldn't write down, it faded so quickly after I woke up. What I d0 remember is the feelings of love and peace it give me and that's good enough for me.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I've been a bit off as of late

Sometimes when this happens I don't understand, why it takes me so long to realize, I've got some kind of a chip on my shoulder. No wait that's not it, it's more of annoyed feeling I can't figure out why would I feel this way. Learning at last I was trying to figure out, my heart with my head! Rarely does that have a worthwhile out come. So until I allowed myself to feel what it was, I was afraid of feeling. Now that I've written it out, it seems kind of funny being afraid of  something I know is within my control. Oh my goodness fear is a thief that can sneak in, making mountains out of the smallest of sand piles. It's amazing once I faced my fear it turned out to be about the silliest of things. It's about my family reunion weekend this Saturday! It's the first time in Oh I can't remember when, I don't know what every one's been doing and realizing that the same is also true for them about me. Sharing with each other first hand what we feel is worth sharing, I really think this will be fun and nothing I need to be afraid of.

This time Mom will be there in spirit, at the last reunion two years ago. Mom didn't want me to share any of her health problems, all that could be done had already been done. For her this was about her spending time with her whole family. What she needed the was for everyone to remember her, as she had always been, good old Auntie Adele and friend. Not that this would be the last time they would see her. This meant she wanted bit of help at first, by letting her know who was coming in to visit, without them knowing I was doing it. Because she couldn't see far or well at all, the way she recognized everyone was by the sound of their voices. Another piece of information she hadn't wanted me to share so I didn't. As people walked by  she would ask me if that was one of our group or not, as people started coming to visit her, she wanted to visit with all of them, just not all at once. Mom had wanted me to bring my written reflection's she was proud of them and she had been my editor, but I knew that wasn't the only reason she wanted them, it didn't take long to understand it was meant as tool for me to  run interference for her. Of course it worked like a charm, when too many conversation were going on all at once she would bring up my writings. The first time she said; "Mary show (so and so) your written reflection the one about, which ever one she thought the person would be interested in". It was my cue to distract some conversation away from her to me, with all the voices and more coming in all the time. She didn't want to miss her chance to talk with each and everyone of them. As she began  bringing all the conversation back together. Gathering up the discarded copies of my reflection knowing they had done what she had needed them to do, I took my spot sitting just behind her. Watching as she directed all of us that had come, getting everyone talking to and with each other without her having to talk about herself. She just took it all in, adding in her stories of each of us and filling in the gapes of memories and adding in the reaction of their parents, had told her about what the kids had done. It was she told later, so nice having her whole family back together again, reminding her of all the great gathering we have had with her whole family all together once more.

It will be interesting to see how and who will bring all of us together as a family. Already knowing it will not be me, I'm still considered as the baby by some and with my M.S. forget it! We all say some of the same thing she did. Being afraid of the unknown isn't me, as I told Mom many years ago. It is what it is until it isn't what it once was. Making this reunion brand new, where it goes if it's the start of something new or the last of it's kind? Only time and each member of the whole family knows the answer. As for me, I'm no longer able to plan that far ahead. With M.S. I just don't know that the future may hold. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

#29 The steps you've taken together today

For Katie & Nick
On their wedding day
By Katie's Auntie Mary K. Mennenga

The steps you've taken together today
Isn't as big as the step you took
A few years ago
When you opened your hearts
To each other
So today we join with you
In celebrating the love
You share with and for each other
Knowing the love you two share
Has already stood up to
A test of time
And is even stronger now because
As two strong independent, unique, individuals
By your choosing to become partners
In whatever life has in store
for each of you
Realizing you're stronger together
There isn't an obstacle
That by working together you can't handle
I know this because you are both
Too tenacious to allow that to happen 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

#28 A thunderstorm brings peace

A thunderstorm brings peace
By Mary K. Mennenga

The hardest day in my life was the day my Mom died
I wasn't sad, more relieved her life had become so complicated
She has always been my rock and her love never wavered
She always had a positive attitude and whenever obstacle's littered her path; she didn't walk around them, instead she worked her way though them all.
She wasn't one to make mountains out of molehills
She preferred to live and let live
She didn't want anyone to worry or fuss over her
Living her life in control of her choices, when attempting to accept that she needed help, wasn't a role she was familiar with or cared for much!
She knew it was essential and handled it the best she could
As her night came a thunderstorm rolled in
She went to see what the ruckus was all about
As she did an Angel went home to heaven.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Wet Bulb Global Temperature Index (standard*)

This information is good enough to stand as it's own post. Having M.S. the heat for me carries it's own stress that has taken me out of action more than once. On the table below the far right column is my own guideline and at the bottom is how I need to manage a whole day of actives. Yes it sucks having limitations of what I can and can't do but it's better then ending up in a Ambulance and or a Hospital! Been there done that more than once and don't want to do that again. Each person can set their own limit.

Wet Bulb Global Temperature (heat) Index (Standard*)
                                                                                          My M.S.
Category        Temperature         work/rest             work/rest
1                          78-81.9                   40/20                    30/30
2 (green)           82-84.9                  30/30                    20/40
3 (yellow)          85-87.9                  30/30                    10/50
4 (red)               88-89.9                  20/40                     5/55
5 (black)           90-or greater         10/50                     0/60

For each hour worked using this chart, I decrease work by 10 minutes and increase rest by 20 minutes. Anything over 4 hours increase rest by one hour for the rest of day. If temperatures drop down below index category 1 it's a judgement call based on how well I stuck to the day plan.

*Standard is set by a person who is physically fit and in good general health within the age range of 18 to 23 years old.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The year in Pictures 2011

From January to August 2011
These are the similar pictures I have taken so far this year. The snow didn't really start melting, until the end of March by April 15 it was gone.  Then it really got cold it stayed below average until middle of June. July went off the charts hot with dew points in the upper 70's and 80. We set a record for the highest dew point ever at 82 degrees. Here in Minnesota the dew points in the summer, on average we have 13 days of dew points in the 60's to low 70's, this year we've had 19 days and it's not even the dog days of summer. A few times each year it will get too hot to rain, that has only happened once so far meaning it's been a very wet.  In the winter dew points are 30's and 40's. The yearly average dew point is in the high 40's. Like summer in winter it gets too cold to snow, that's when you can see ice crystals in the air that don't seem to hit the ground like dew would. How this happens here in both summer and winter is when the upper and surface temperature is around the same. The reasons the ground frost here can go deeper then 4 feet down, when we don't have enough snow cover to insulate the ground until mid November or December. Now if your still reading this you have more information about Minnesota climate then some of the people who live here have. 
This year within 48 hours we went from a high of  58 degrees with a dew point of 43, to a high of 83 degrees and the dew point in the mid 70's. People like to say "It's not the heat it's the humidity!" The higher the dew point temperature is, the harder it makes it to breath.