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?

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!

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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A light snow began yesterday…(from Tuesday!)

[[I have NO IDEA why this post didn’t show up…I published it the evening of the 9th of December!]]

...then continued through the night.

…then continued through the night.

08DEC2013 Snow-2

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Today, having to make a pharmacy run yet again, I figured I’d walk a bit and get some good shots.

As soon as I turned the corner of the building, I knew that would be futile–the temp was 19 F. and falling, with a steady west wind which also happened to be gusting to 24 mph!

I grabbed this shot, then quickly shoved the camera back into my pocket!

I grabbed this shot, then quickly shoved the camera back into my pocket!

This snow wasn't going much of anywhere as it was stuck on this awning...

This snow wasn’t going much of anywhere as it was stuck on this awning…

...and even in the framework of the bus shelter!

…and even in the framework of the bus shelter!

It was kind of pretty, especially as it decorated the pine garlands and mesh wrapped around light poles...

It was kind of pretty, especially as it decorated the pine garlands and mesh wrapped around light poles…

...and this bush in the parkway at the Loyola Station of the Red Line "L".

…and this bush in the parkway at the Loyola Station of the Red Line “L”.

By the time I arrived home, I was frozen!

Though bundled and layered (I’d even been wearing ‘leg warmers’, which I haven’t done since the late 80s!), the wind had increased and shelter was difficult.

By 4:00 PM, the temp had dropped to 15 F. (that’s -9 C.) with a wind chill making it feel like -1 F. (-18 C.)–BITTER!

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I did get off one last shot at Loyola, which I turned into an E-card for any of you who wish to use.

Just click on the image, save it to your Pictures folder, then send it to whomever--it's a FREE gift to my followers!

Just click on the image, save it to your Pictures folder, then send it to whomever–it’s a FREE gift to my followers!

It hasn’t been the greatest week

Monday’s outing to the pharmacy (again!) chilled me so thoroughly, it took all evening to warm up, resulting in not feeling very well for the following several days…and the leg cramps were really cutting into valuable ‘sleep time’.

Friday’s visit to the doctor (to check how an outbreak of eczema was responding to treatment) revealed that there is no blood clot (YAY!), but some problem in the lumbar vertebra #5…so I will be scheduling an MRI for (hopefully?) some day this week.

The muscle cramps are excruciatingly painful, as that muscle running along the exterior of the legs contracts quickly and feels as hard as stone, and until I have the MRI, I won’t know if there will be therapy, more pain-killing drugs, or even an operation on my spine.

I haven’t exactly had much holiday spirit, or energy, or interest in posting…until this evening.

Today, I awoke early, and looked out the studio window into the darkness…and saw it was snowing!

I took a few shots after it became daylight.

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Just before noon, I went out to return a few DVDs to the library, and found more gorgeous snow!

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14DEC Snow-5

As I waited at the bus terminal, it began coming down a bit heavier, and a little bit of Christmas spirit returned.

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It has been snowing most of the day, and is supposed to continue as ‘light’ snow tonight, so perhaps tomorrow, if my back and legs cooperate, I’ll get out and walk over to the lake?

Last week and yesterday

LAST WEEK

For several days last week, my spare time was spent getting the Christmas decorations together.

This is just one of the results:

The red and green wreath from last year was ttoally revamped, using gold-leafed pears, small gol and deep green balls, and gold-tipped large pine cones. The old red and green lights were replaced with warm white LED lights, which use about 4.5 watts per 50-light string...I'm very happy I purchased them!

The red and green wreath from last year was totally revamped, using gold-leafed pears, small gold and deep green balls, and gold-tipped large pine cones.
The old red and green lights were replaced with warm white LED lights, which use about 4.5 watts per 50-light string…I’m very happy I purchased them!

Some close-ups:

Gold-Green Wreath-2

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YESTERDAY

It had been quite foggy for several days, but yesterday’s was the thickest.

04DEC2013 Fog-1

Thrilled with being able to take the time to go out and photograph a few things, I walked over to Sherwin Beach to see the effect of fog at the shore.

04DEC2013 Fog-2

Just to the south is the veranda of 1205 W. Sherwin Avenue, a beautiful spot to look at the lake which had virtually disappeared.

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Finally, I headed back home, but not before photographing my own window.

The lights were wrapped around the wreath intentionally...and it's great that it can be seen quite well, even at mid-afternoon, so that all can share the beauty of the Christmas season!

The lights were wrapped around the wreath intentionally…and it’s great that it can be seen quite well, even at mid-afternoon, so that all can share the beauty of the Christmas season!

I’m happy to see…

…that WordPress has brought back its “snow” this season…and it’s falling just about at the rate it did here in Chicago a bit over a week ago!

See for yourselves.

From my studio window

From my studio window

 

From my living room window

From my living room window

But…it did make for some interesting patterns in the now-empty lot next door!

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25NOV Snow-5

I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to shoot from my north window, as I’ve been doing the past six winters, but the maintenance man came and removed the screen (a temporary one that really didn’t fit!), and I have a clear view to the north until Spring–or whenever it will warm up here in Chicago!

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I finally had a somewhat ‘slow’ day!!!

After a short run to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription, I actually walked a few blocks out of the way and did some shooting–a rare thing of late!

I hope to have a few of those 121  images up either tonight or tomorrow, so thanks to all for your patience!