The news is not really good…

…but I expect it could have been worse.

Today, during my doctor’s appointment, I received the results of the MRI I had on 20DEC2013, and I truly wish I could have skipped this one!

Getting off the bus, the Park Tower Apartments across Sheridan Road looked like this…

...and yes, it was raining!

…and yes, it was raining!

My windows finally began to thaw a bit a few days ago, as the temperatures warmed…

Icy Window-1

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…but venturing out in today’s quite heavy rain was not on MY agenda!

The MRI concluded that my back pain and leg cramping are caused by severe spinal stenosis in the third and fourth lumbar vertebrae.

Spinal stenosis is, according to Wikipedia, “…an abnormal narrowing (stenosis) of the spinal canal that may occur in any of the regions of the spine.

My wonderful doctor stated he would not prescribe physical therapy, which he knows from experience does not help with a ‘severe’ diagnosis, and thus referred me to a neurosurgeon, with whom I will make an appointment on Monday.

Lower back surgery is the only option–and I do NOT look forward to that–but I’ll know more after the appointment, when Dr. “L” has evaluated the DVD of the MRI.

Kind of scary, huh?

But…if it relieves me of the intense pain of the cramping, and restores my ability to walk, I’ll certainly end up being ‘one happy camper’!

Any surgery, however, comes with its own set of problems for me, due to the fact I am on ‘lifetime’ Coumadin , the blood thinner.

Many precautions will have to be taken, and I perceive I’ll be relegated to giving myself shots of Lovenox for a number of days both before and after the surgery–which means lots of black, blue, green yellow and purple splotches on my tummy!

I spent almost two hours in the doctor’s office, then ‘glided’ over a number of icy spots to the bus stop, which looked like this:

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In all this mess, I also had to stop at the pharmacy to pick up an Rx to help reduce the inflammation in my lower back.

Walking the long block from the bus stop looked like this…

...water and deep puddles everywhere!

…water and deep puddles everywhere!

My waterproof Totes boots FAILED–but only after having to wade through eight or nine slushy, mucky, three and four-inch deep, huge puddles!

When I arrived home (finally!), I put yesterday’s leftover chicken/chili into a pot, and stripped off soaking wet boots, socks, pants and jacket very quickly!

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One good thing occurred this week!

My newest neighbor was having difficulty with his printer (he is 75 and not terribly tech-savvy), so I offered to take a look at it (our computer guy was closed that day due to the extreme cold, which basically shut down the city of Chicago for two days).

I didn’t fix his printer (turned out is was the USB cord, and not a problem with the printer itself), but I did clean up his desktop quite a bit, and introduced him to hulu.com.

He has since watched all the episodes of “Jeeves and Wooster” (though born here, he returned to his father’s homeland, Britain, when he was still a baby).

When I returned home from shopping on Wednesday afternoon, a bouquet of white carnations was propped against my door!

My neighbor stopped by shortly thereafter, to tell me they were a ‘thank you’ gift from him–as if I wouldn’t have already known that!

Here they are, Photoshopped and treated with the Diffuse Glow filter:

I must say, their perfume is marvelous--a little bit of early Summer in the beginning of an icy January!

I must say, their perfume is marvelous–a little bit of early Summer in the beginning of an icy January!

Although the eight inches of snow never materialized…

…the other day, ‘they’ are now predicting another eight inches or more by Monday (‘eight’ must be someone’s favorite number, huh?) accompanied by severe cold.

We’ll see if ‘they’ are correct.

It just seems to me that ‘they’ don’t realize it’s Winter, it’s January…we’re supposed to be cold and snowy here in the Northern hemisphere!

But…I’ll tell you, it’s not easy getting around in this

Soup Day-1

…or slogging through this without falling or being hit by a passing car!

Soup Day-2

It’s quite nerve-wracking, having to use a cane in Winter, especially here in Chicago, where many never shovel their walkways, or are kind enough to shovel out the bus stops.

I’m just thankful, after all the extra exertion, to come home to a warm apartment and a delicious bowl of homemade chicken soup–with Mrs. Dash’s Lemon Pepper seasoning, onions, carrots, turnips, and brown rice…and a good spoonful of my favorite…wild rice!

Soup Day-3

Oh…YUM!

(In case you’re wondering, those black lines on the bowl are hiding the Chinese character for SOUP!)

Arrangements…

…in the key of Winter.

Here are the originals, straight from the camera, as taken last Friday at the entrance of The Breakers on Sheridan Road, where my doctor’s office is located.

The lighting is sodium vapor, which does nothing for the colors–so I knew this would be a fun project!

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After taking a good, long look at them, I began by flipping a few, then processing in Photoshop (TM) and giving them a final touch of the Diffuse filter, using pure white as the Background color.

Hope you like the results!

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What better way could there be to spend a ‘freezy-beezy’ afternoon?

It’s been quite a year…

…and I, for one, am glad to see it go!

The bedbug invasion in July–UGH!

The apartment painting, which took four and five coats, including a coat of stain blocker–due to the cheap paint provided by the (cheap!) building manager–UGH!

The severe leg cramps which occurred mostly at night, causing me to have to ‘sleep in split shifts’UGH!

The Lumbar MRI I had eleven days ago (no results yet)–a total of 30 minutes of really bad ‘garage band drumming’UGH!

And now, the weakness in my legs, seemingly due to some form of sciatica, which happens even when I walk around my small apartment–UGH!

Oh, yes–so very glad 2013 is on its way out!

It’s already 2014 in Sydney, Australia, where the fireworks began around two hours ago:

Sydney 2014 (Courtesy AFP/Saeed Khan)

I won’t get out to see any fireworks here in Chicago…it’s about 15 F. (-9 C.), and we’re supposed to be inundated with at least a half-foot of snow by evening.

All I can do is wish you all the happiest and most prosperous 2014!!!

Happy New Year 2014

Though it’s been difficult resting so much while I’m beleaguered by pain, I will make the effort to post more often this year, as I am able to click off new shots!

Thanks for your patience.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Last evening…

…I cooked a very untraditional Christmas Eve meal.

Lamb shoulder chop, rubbed with mint, dried minced garlic, and Mrs. Dash's Lemon Pepper seasoning, accompanied by brown and wild rice, cooked with onion, Crimi mushrooms, dried minced garlic, Campari tomatoes, dried oregano, a good bit of Mrs. Dash's Lemon Pepper seasoning and Greek olive oil. Really super tasty and very nutritious!

Lamb shoulder chop, rubbed with mint, dried minced garlic, and Mrs. Dash’s Lemon Pepper seasoning, accompanied by brown and wild rice, cooked with onion, Crimini mushrooms, dried minced garlic, Campari tomatoes, dried oregano, a good bit of Mrs. Dash’s Lemon Pepper seasoning and Greek olive oil.
Really super tasty and very nutritious!

While I was watching the very untraditional Christmas film, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (wasn’t Audrey gorgeous?), a knock at the door was not from Santa, but my young neighbor, who presented me with this:

A very untraditional "Christmas Sweater" cookie!

A very untraditional “Christmas Sweater” cookie!

She and her Mom had been doing a lot in their kitchen (which adjoins my own), but I didn’t expect such a creative gift!

They are both very artistically-inclined…and I thank them for this wondrous little cookie, which is indeed delicious!

After reading until past midnight, I awoke at 8-ish, made a pot of fresh ground Italian Roast/Dutch Chocolate flavored coffee and took a look out my window.

Just a very light snow had fallen overnight, enough to brighten the ground...with ice still on the windows, because we're 'havin' a heat wave' of mid-20s degree F. weather today!

Just a very light snow had fallen overnight, enough to brighten the ground…with ice still on the windows, though we’re ‘havin’ a heat wave’ of mid-20 degrees F. weather today!

For those of you who’ve been running as late as I have, here’s one last E-card I just made.

Merry Christmas Potpourri

(I hope you can catch the aroma of pine and cinnamon in the potpourri?)

HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL…MAY IT BE MERRY AND BRIGHT!!!

Macy’s Washington Street displays…

…bespeak the gift of entertaining, with mostly traditional themes.

Have a look!

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Macy's Vitrines-7

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Macy's Vitrines-9

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But…these beautiful vitrines were not created by Macy’s display staff!

Macy's Vitrines-1

It’s really nice to know that the students seem very interested in carrying on Christmas traditions…and my congratulations to all of them…it’s a marvelous display!

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Merry Christmas to all, and don’t forget to leave cookies for Santa, and some treats for the reindeer, too!

As the last few minutes of Autumn wind down…

…these Hostas have also decided to succumb to Winter, which officially arrives at 11:11 AM (CST), just twenty-five minutes from now!

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Winter's Hosta-5 WM

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Winter's Hosta-4 WM

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Winter's Hosta-2 WM

Happy Winter Solstice!

(Already, I can’t wait for Spring!)

Just around the corner…

…is a yellow Magnolia tree, which I’ve photographed for the past six years.

Here it is last Spring, in all its glory:

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And this is how it looked this afternoon:

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The building on the right has a new tenant and, apparently, they decided to decorate…and it so cheers me to see!

(Tried to get a shot of their flower box, but could get a good enough angle, as the third floor is quite high.

It’s filled with greens and several large ball ornaments like these on the tree.)

MERRY CHRISTMAS to them, and all of you, too!

For some reason…

…I find great hope as the sun rises.

Sunday morning

Sunday morning

This morning, just one week before Christmas!

This morning, just one week before Christmas!

Wishing all my followers the happiest Christmas ever, and an extremely prosperous New Year!

It’s been BRRR!

Condensation on my windows has been a real problem this year, and because it’s been such a very cold Autumn-into-Winter season here in Chicago, most days the windows have been iced up, perhaps because I was very thorough when caulking…but then, there are no drafts at all!

Yet, the iciness is truly fascinating.

I hope you’ll agree?

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09DEC2013 Window Ice-4

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09DEC2013 Window Ice-1 WM

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