Friday, April 29, 2016

Photo Friday: Black and Blue

There's not much to say about this week's photo.

I discovered these solar panels, atop several similar structures, in Ashton Station and between Ashton and Prospect. Whether they're owned by the City of Ottawa or the province, they cut a sharp contrast to the sky.

Black and blue.



Happy Friday!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

When My Best-Laid Plans Turn to Writer's Block

There's a reason why The Brown Knowser came back, and it wasn't just to share my recent vacation.

Last December, I wrote about how my blog was going to take a hiatus while I focused on my novel, how I might occasionally post some photos to let people know that the blog wasn't dead. I started thinking more about the sequel to Songsaengnim: A Korea Diary, and would devout the hours that I usually spend on these gentle musings on writing that required more dedication (and would be created with far more thought than this blog spends).

About two weeks before I planned to place this blog on pause (I had already written and set up the posts for the end of December), I became ill. It started with a sharp pain where my appendix would be, had my appendix been on my left side. For a couple of days, the pain was bad and I was in little mood to do anything, let alone write.

As Christmas drew near, the pain wasn't as sharp, but every time I ate, no matter how big of how small the meal, I experienced gastrointestinal pain. On Christmas day, where I usually load at least two platefuls of turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes, I barely ate one plate and was hardly my festive self. Over the holidays, I was so fatigued that all I wanted to do was spend days in bed.

Thankfully, drinking caused no ill effects and I could happily continue my beer blog.

An initial trip to my doctor led to blood and ultrasound tests, which came back as inconclusive. When my pain returned with a vengeance, my doctor sent me to a hospital emergency room, where I underwent a CT scan.

The CT scan revealed an inflammation and small hernia in my large intestine, but nothing serious. I was prescribed medication for the swelling and pain, and was told that my pain should dissipate in a week to 10 days.

The CT scan also revealed a mass on my liver, and I would require an additional ultrasound to get a better image.

Blood tests were sent to determine if I had a stomach ulcer. "Or cancer," my doctor said. The tests were returned and I was deemed not to have an ulcer.

"Cancer?" I asked my doctor, remembering that she had only given me two options for these tests. She shrugged and told me that she would request an endoscopy, to be sure.

I'm still waiting for that appointment.

All the while, I was far too distracted to do any writing. And the pain remained until mid to late February.

My second ultrasound, the one that focused on that mass on my liver, was also inconclusive. I'm currently on a waiting list for an MRI.

When the pain subsided, I asked my doctor if it was possible that the gastrointestinal trouble could have been a stubborn virus. "It's possible," she said. We didn't know what brought on the pain or fatigue, so there was no way of telling what made it go away.

At least, by the beginning of March, I was feeling better, and by the time my family and I left for our Arizona-California vacation, I was feeling back to normal. The only thing that I felt on that vacation was the occasional windedness from the altitude, but nothing serious and nothing related to my pains.

It has now been more than four months since I first felt ill and lost my motivation to write. I have felt uninspired to work on my novel, been barely able to string together any meaningful words for this blog.

I'm good with words. I know a lot of words. Great words.

I'm easing back into my blog until I feel the inspiration to return to my book. I wait for my MRI, my endoscopy, a third ultrasound, and a sleep test to boot.

I'm in a holding pattern, both with my health and with my creativity. I'll deal with things as they present themselves.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Photo Friday: Third Time's a Charm

About a year ago, my wife and I nursed an orchid back to life. Or what I should say is, my wife diligently maintained an orchid that had bloomed, lost its flowers, and then had its stem trimmed back.

I just moved it into a better spot on the kitchen window sill and periodically let excess water drip from my fingers into the flower pot when I washed my hands at the kitchen sink.

Whatever we (she) did, the stem regrew, buds formed, and the orchid blossomed again.

When the flowers died, we repeated the process, and that brings us to now, where the orchid has marked spring in the Brownfoot household.

Whatever my wife and I are doing right, we hope it continues each year.

To capture this shot, I moved the orchid in front of my TV. Blinds, which I opened to the left of the shot, let afternoon sunshine pour into the family room. I set my camera on a tripod and operated it with my remote shutter release.

To keep the light from reflecting the brightly lit room on the TV screen, I held a black blanket between me and the back of the camera. The photo was shot with my Nikon D7200 with my 24–70mm 2.8 lens, set at 42mm. The shutter speed was half a second at f/8, with EV set at +1.0 and ISO at 100.

I figured, this being Photo Friday, I might as well give more information about taking the photo.

Here's the result:


Happy Friday!