Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Plenty of Activity

Life's been looking up this past week. I've been doing things I haven't done for a while. I'm starting to feel normal and back to my old self. One of the things that has caused this, and probably the most significant, is that I'm changing medications.

My medicine chest includes the usual battery of pills for those who are starting to get on in years and two of them are prescribed by a psychiatrist. For several years I've taken antidepressants off and on. The ADD meds I've been on since I was diagnosed with it in 2000. When my career plans blew up this past spring, I decided to try a different antidepressant at the advice of my sister who's a psychiatrist. She recommended one I'd tried before and it had been ok then, but as I've aged it is no longer good for me. Instead it creates an apathy that leaves me unmotivated and ineffective at home. I can still work but there is no zest or energy in it. The ADD med I was on for a few years was a version of Ritalin. That's a controlled substance so my doctor, and my sis, suggested I try out strattera. I agreed thinking that it might help me deal with motivation which I thought came from depression and not the medication. Wrong! Strattera doesn't work for me. After a month of being on it I found myself daydreaming at work and not being aware of time passing. That's not a good situation. So two weeks ago, when I forgot to take the meds before heading off to work, I decided it was a good time to take myself off strattera and research antidepressants. Here's what I learned.

There are 3 major groups of antidepressants. SSRI's work with serotonin and that is helpful for women because without it they aren't very social. Another group works with norepinephrine which affects motivation and energy. The third group works on dopamine and that's for people who have psychotic episodes. Then there's a set of meds which don't affect any of those neurochemicals and doctors don't really know how they work, but they do. The med I was on affected serotonin, and norepinephrine once the dosage reached a certain level. Strattera also works on norepinephrine but it isn't effective as an antidepressant. Between the two meds I was taking I should have been covered on two of the major neurochemicals. Since they weren't having the desired effect I decided to take myself off the antidepressant too and go back on the one I'd been on before which didn't cause apathy. Since I couldn't see my doctor quickly (VA medical system) I called my sister for instructions on how to get off of Effexor. Following her directions I'm now off that and back on Wellbutrin which does work. Yay! I'm feeling so much better. My energy is up and so is my creativity. In fact I'm sort of going in all kinds of directions mentally because I've been so long with out creative mental stimulation. This past week I got to exercise that creativity and energy. So, there's lots of nice stuff to report.

Saturday I was LEM for Morning Prayer. I spent lots of extra time on that service. I found myself praying for people I knew needed it but weren't on the official church prayer list. I also found myself just talking to God about my life. This was so rewarding. I felt really close to Him and it's really special there in the sanctuary. That set the tone for the rest of the morning. I even found myself singing part of the Office because I'd learned the melody to one of the songs used in it when I attended late service recently.

When I was done with the prayers I went outside and noticed the small garden at the back of the sanctuary was in full bloom. This isn't one of our landscaped gardens but someone's special project. It is beautiful, not large and tenderly cared for. Every plant in this garden is different. So I spent some quality time with the camera and that garden. Not being a horticulturalist I've no idea what the names of the flowers I photographed are but I got quite a few shots and some of them I really like. Some of these flowers are Texas natives and used for xeroscaping. If you know the names of the ones I don't (I really only know the roses) please comment and let me know so that I can update the post with correct names. Thanks!

The garden has several vines along the wall that it sits against. This is one of them. I took several pictures of these intensely colored trumpet type flowers. This is the best one.

Everyone knows a nice rose when they see it. This was first of the flowers I photographed. I'm sorry to say that I was so enthralled with the color that I didn't notice the aging look of the rose. It's gotten pretty hot here in S. Texas and I guess the flowers are going to fade pretty quickly.

This is such a lovely bright color that it excites me. These roses don't have many petals. Their simplicity of form seems to go well with the intense color.

Once I wrote a poem about the garden of my heart. In it I mentioned a blue flower whose name I didn't recall. This was that flower. It is popular here in S. Texas. A huge bush of it was growing at the house I lived in up until fifth grade.

When I lived in Corpus Christie, I used to have a window box of begonias on the edge of my patio. They were a more intense color than these but they grow well in both garden and pots if you give them water and some room for their roots. I don't know the name of the small intensely red flower next to them. It too is good down here in the Texas heat. Can you tell bright colors attract me?
This one is definitely a xeroscape flower. Again, I don't know the name of it but I like the orange coloring of it.

This flowering vine abounds throughout the south. When I got married my soon to be Aunt-in-law helped me manage the wedding arrangements. This was the flower she brought from her own garden to put on the tables at the reception. Wish I remembered the name of it. I love the bright pink flowers and when I again have a yard of my own it will be one of the first plants I get.

This too is xeroscaping. I don't know this flowers name either. This shade of purple is one of my favorites. It reminds me of the choke bush although I know that isn't the name for this flower. But that's how I know it's a native to Texas, or has adapted so well you wouldn't know the difference.

This one must be a cultured wildflower. It reminds me of the flowering weeds that used to grow on the playground of my first elementary school in Mercedes, TX. I'm glad they kept this or put it in. It grows low to the ground in a straggling manner.

Here's a shot of the corner of this garden. You can see the amazing variety of plants and color that this gardener has established here.

Here's the same garden from the other end. It isn't a large plot, runs along the wall of the sanctuary, and wraps around.

This is the view of part of the church from the end of the garden. In the background you can see some of our Sunday school classrooms. The slab in the center of it is our labyrinth. That has turned out to be such a blessing. Almost everyone in the church either walks it or sits on the seating risers around it. Children who are having trouble sitting still through the service are often allowed to go outside by their parents to walk or play on it. I'm pretty sure that one of the reasons this is so often permitted is that you can see the entire labyrinth through the windows that make up the entire wall of the sanctuary, so the kids are never out of their parent's sight. We have two walls, one on each side of the sanctuary, of nothing but glass with the structures holding them in place providing framing. It really is a beautiful church.

At some point, probably when I was starting to go home, I stopped and took a picture of the leaves of this oak tree. Our grounds have lots of trees and this one shelters the rear entrance to the church.

On Monday I got out of the apartment early to drop the rent check off. It was about 7:30 in the morning and pretty windy. The sky wasn't really bright with the sun which was still climbing up from the horizon. So I thought it would be a good time to park by the lake and take some more pictures of it. The lack of recent rain had the water level down really low or I'd probably never have known we had a new type of water fowl living there.

Here's our old but faithful swan. I think it is one of the original because the first pair I saw were this black and when this one's mate died the pair we bought to replace them weren't as beautiful. That pair produced two hatching all of which eventually died and then they too passed on. So this is the only swan we have now. I hope he isn't too lonely.

After he finished grooming he started feeding. Pictures of swans with their heads buried in water don't look as interesting as they do with their long necks up and showing off their beautiful carriage. I titled this one Narcissus because he looks like he's admiring himself in his reflection on the water.

For as long as I've lived at this place I knew we had a white crane living at the back of the lake. What I didn't know was that we also had these long legged water fowl also residing there. If anyone knows the name of this bird please let me know. I've got several pictures of them because they looked so fascinating and were moving around in a very paired fashion that makes me think they must be mated.

The birds are clearer in this one because the focus is better and the light had brightened enough to show their colors. My camera only has 4x optical zoom and then a bit more of digital zoom. I was at the max for some of the pictures here but I think this one was at 7x.

This one is included because it shows the color on the top of the breast of one of the birds. You can't see that in the other shots. I'm hoping that will help with identification. Sorry if some of these pictures come out grainy. Digital zoom doesn't seem to give the same quality as optical zoom does.
Here's the last of the bird images. This was the one my PC liked the best and I do admit that it shows off their long legs really well.

Tonight our new deacon-to-be is getting ordained and I'll be attending. We are really glad to have Matt with us at Reconciliation. This is the same guy who taught me guitar lessons last summer. He is young and full of creative ideas. Everyone likes him and we are just thrilled that he is back. Our pastor is also relieved that he now has an official assistant to help him manage some of his many responsibilities.

On Sunday I'll be attending the 2nd of my "Dinners for 6 to 8" gatherings. This is a great program that our church put together to help people mingle more off campus and make friends. I think it's working and the food and fellowship I've experienced through it are great.

And there you go. The most recent bits of life I've had and the near future. Much better all around!


murat11 said...

Lee: Good to see you back in the blogging lanes: I see a theme here, parallel to San's guided tour of yesterday. Great photographs.

Flowers: I think your blue flower may be phlox. The flower next to the begonia is dianthus (no relation to Princess Di). That gorgeous vine is known by a number of names: I know it as coral vine. My house in Austin had an entire curtain's worth of coral vine that covered both of my huge bedroom windows. I only needed a synthetic curtain in January and part of February. I love coral vine.

I love the last photograph in your post. It looks like a painting, one of the non-realist realist paintings San mentioned in her gallery post.

Best wishes to you, and may you continue to feel your creative rhythms.

Lee said...

Thanks, Paschal! Those names are really helpful. Do you happen to know who tends that garden?

I'm thrilled by your description of my bird photo. That is so cool...non realist realist.

Have no fear! I intend to stay off them bad meds and keep the rhythms and dances flowing!

Hope to see you at Matt's ordination tonight.


Sandi McBride said...

Okay,I don't want to be a nag, but it's about time too...first, I hope that the medication you are trying works and if it doesn't, well you know, try something'll find the right combination or just the for the "aging" roses...okay, it's aging, but it's still beautiful...don't you agree? And I notice you mentioned the "old but faithful swan"...don't get hung up on aging my friend, it happens to us all...and we're only as old as we feel. Granted there are days I feel 103 but as long as there are the days I feel 16, I'll deal with 103. Love to you my dear's to unwinding the tangles
your friend

Sandi McBride said...

The blue flower looks mighty like Hydrangea, if it's a big bush as you say, then thats it...hope I helped

Lee said...

Ummm...Erp...Okay, I got my jaw back up off the floor again. Sandi my dear, I've never seen you in this mode. While I admit to being stunned I think I like it in you. Just wish I could have seen your face as you were typing that.

Per aging...I hadn't realized I was using the word so much. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. More food for the PC chats.

Ok, I've got two opinions on the blue flower title. Paschal says flox and you say hydrangea.

Yeah! You helped more than you know!


San said...

Lee, it's such a joy to share your beautiful flora and fauna sightings. Your photos are celebratory and I can hear the energy in your blogging voice. HURRAY!

It was fun to get a glimpse of your church's labyrinth. I haven't walked one in a while, but I do like the way they feel. There's one outside the International Museum of Folk Art here in Santa Fe. And an artist here in our neighborhood built one in his back yard.

I'm not up on my horticultural names either, but I do know hydrangea. That blossom looks the shape of hydrangea but a little sparser than what we had in Bama. And I thought things were BIG in Texas. If it's on a big round bush though, like Sandi said it's probably hydrangea. If it's low to the ground, maybe it's phlox. Haven't I heard of something called creeping phlox? No, that's the fog. It creeps in on little cat feet. Sorry.

I'm with your PC and Paschal. That last photo is a gem!

Sandi McBride said...

ah crap Lee I didn't say anything about the pictures and I should was the birds that did me in...I could see you photographing them and see the beauty you saw in them but something else came through, too...I addressed that rather than the okay...the pictures are beautiful...but so are you...I never want to see you sell yourself short. You have to much invested in you to let that happen!

Lee said...

Thanks San! I knew you'd feel the love of life in those shots. It's all coming back and Thank God! Like Sandi said, About time!

I'm glad you liked the bird picture too. Mark will be glad to know his opinion is seconded and thirded.

If that labyrinth is near you why not go walk it? It isn't the same as a sweat lodge but it can be a wonderful short journey to where ever it and your spirit take you.


Lee said...

Aw hell, Sandi! I know you love me. If you didn't I wouldn't have taken that chewing you dished out. Big hug!

Yeah, they are gorgeous. Can't wait to see what else crops up in the gardens around the church.

And ok, I promise I won't let myself get too bad. Heck, I like being happy and lively. It's been feeling like I did that made me feel old, tired, and scared. I hated it. Never again. And I'm getting my sister off those damn ssri's too.

Hugs! & Sweet Dreams!

Susan Palwick said...

Gorgeous photos, Lee! The colors on the flowers are so vivid you can practically taste them, and I love how the birds are reflected in the water!

I'm so glad you're feeling better on new meds. The search for the right ones can be quite a challenge, as you know I know!

Lee said...

Wow! Taste them, Susan? If you can taste flowers and like that I need to take you to the San Antonio Botanical Garden's restaurant. They serve flowers and herbs in all their dishes from the gardens on site.

I'm glad you like them. Thank you!

Yes, we've traveled this road side by side for a while. I'm glad you seem to be doing well these days. Your creativity is back and working and it shows in your writing.

Hugs my friend!

katydidnot said...

those photos made me feel like i'd gone with alice down the rabbit hole. lovely.

Lee said...

Thank you, Katy! I loved those gardens in that story too. :)

Glad to see you here. Stop by anytime. I'll be over to your place shortly.


Dragonstar said...

I love your photos of the mystery bird! I don't know what it is, but the second photo is superb.

Lee said...

Hi Dragonstar! Thanks for the look and kind words. I'll keep checking back in to your place. After all, I'm crazy about dragons too.


Indrani said...

The blue flowers are Plumbago, they have medicinal properties too. Your pictures are amazing. Just had to stop by this post.

Lee said...

Ah, Thank you, Indrani! And you have the photos to prove it! Loved those images of the flowers opening up. So beautiful!