Monday 28 June 2021

Half Time

Tomorrow, Tuesday, it will be two weeks since my first operation and another two before the second one. I feel fine; sticking to my schedule of administering eye drops and NOT doing anything very strenuous has served me well.

My next appointment with my doctor is next week Tuesday. I guess she will confirm the good progress. The only problem now is that my glasses only fit the right eye, and I find it both difficult and exhausting to make sense of what my eyes see. Although it is nice to see TWO glasses of wine in front of me, or have TWO big sisters sitting at the table opposite of me, I know it is not true, and I find it rather tiring to focus on the real picture.

All this will change once I have had my second operation and, after a certain time, I can have new glasses measured and made.

Last week, my sister and I went for a meal at the farm shop / restaurant out on the fields at the edge of town. It is a popular spot and even more so now that everything was closed for so long. We were out in the open and felt quite safe. Every time someone leaves their seat (for instance to go to the toilet), they are required to wear a mask. The staff wear masks, too, and there are dispensers of hand disinfectant at the entrance and in the toilets.

We enjoyed our meal very much, but then hurried home because the sky looked rather ominous. We made it before any rain reached us, and it was a lovely evening; the first time I've been eating out in I don't know how many months!

O.K. was here for the weekend. We had not seen each other last weekend, as I was still too freshly operated to be either a good hostess or good for traveling. The weather was warm and sunny most of the time. We visited the palace grounds; the roses are so abundant that underneath the rose arches it was like a carpet of red and white petals - so beautiful!

This morning at 8:15, I had my first jab. Everything at the vaccination centre is well organised, and everyone who works there was kind and friendly. I was in and out in about half an hour altogether. Right now, about 2 hours later, I do not feel any negative side effects. While I was in the observation area for 15 minutes after the jab, I felt my arm prickle a bit, but even that has as good as disappeared. Let's hope it stays that way.

Sunset last night (Sunday).

Thursday 24 June 2021

One Week and One Day Later

It's now a bit more than a week since my operation, and I am doing well. The first week was very hot, making a decent night's sleep impossible. Good job then that I did not have to work or go anywhere, but spent my time between the settee and my bed, largely resting, blinds drawn, plenty of water to drink and light meals to eat.

The worst of the heat broke on Sunday night, and Monday was already much more pleasant. By Tuesday, it had become almost chilly, and we've had daily showers since then - very good for the gardens and fields, and it shows.

On Wednesday morning, I checked the weather app on my phone and saw that rain was forecast from 11:00 onwards. I decided to go out right after my shower and breakfast, and left the house shortly after 9:00.

The sky was cloudy, which is good for my eyes at the moment, and few other people were out on the fields. I walked for about two hours, at a slower pace than usual; I am not yet allowed to do anything very strenuous and so that was just right for me.

My own doctor examined the operated eye on Monday morning. She is very happy with the outcome and kept saying how well the professor had done it. She said something like "He's really taken great care there", and I replied that I bloody well hoped so - it was my eye, after all! (Of course I did not say "bloody", not even the German equivalent, but we both knew what I meant and had a bit of a chuckle about it.)

Thursday today, and I plan to do a bit of cleaning. O.K. will be here for the weekend. I have seen my sister almost every day this week, and we plan to go to one of the farms here after she has finished work, where they serve food outdoors (without needing a negative test).

And guess what - I will have my first jab on Monday!!

My sister managed to get the appointments for me (follow-up is in August), and here is how it happened: After I have been trying daily for weeks to get an appointment (both on the phone and via the official website), yesterday evening my sister spotted an instagram article of our local paper, saying that the  vaccination centre (just up the road from where I live) has had an unplanned extra delivery of vaccine, and was therefore able to offer more appointments than usual. The article said one needed to be quick to grab one of those appointments, and my sister WAS quick! 

After it seemed like I was going to be the very last person in this country to be vaccined, I can't believe how fast it happened. It also ties in nicely with my time off work; if I should feel any negative side effects, I won't miss any more work because of it, and I will be fully fine again in time for my next operation.

Sometimes everything falls into place, doesn't it! Here's to big sisters :-)

Monday 21 June 2021

A Sunday Worth Its Name

Sunday last week (the 13th of June) was a summer's day out of a picture book: Blue sky from sunrise to sunset, temperatures not too hot at about 25 C (77 F), and a slight breeze every now and then.

It was also the first time in many months that O.K. and I met with other than just our immediate families. In the village, there are three couples more or less our age who live on the same street as us, and although we lead very different lives, we get along really well and are never short of topics to talk about, and laugh.

During the past year, we have only ever bumped into them while out for walks and stopped for brief chats, never visiting each other. Now that infection numbers have gone down considerably in this country and many restrictions have been lifted, two of them have invited the whole group (eight in all) to their allotment for breakfast on Sunday morning.

With chairs and tables all out in the open, we felt fine about meeting them (no handshakes and hugs of course). Everyone brought something; in the end, there was way too much food (as is usually the case with such events), and our "breakfast" lasted until almost 4:00 in the afternoon :-)

It was a beautiful day, and the right kind of thing to take my mind off the upcoming operation for a bit. Not that I was overly worried, but I guess you know what it's like when you have something coming up and keep going on about it in your mind.

The whole week leading up to that Sunday had been good, weather-wise, and I am including a few pictures taken during the week on after-work walks.

On the fields around Ludwigsburg on Thursday, the 10th:

Sunday, the 13th, view from our friends' allotment:

The above is maybe my favourite photo of this summer so far. To me, it epitomises summer at its best.

In a bit, I will be on my way to Stuttgart to see my own eye doctor for the first time since the operation. I wonder whether she will confirm what my impression is, that the immediate result after the operation has not remained, but that the eye has gone back a few dioptres again, which is entirely normal from what the doctor at the clinic said. We shall see (literally). No matter what, it will still be tons better than what it was before the operation.

Thursday 17 June 2021

Fox News

No, not the US TV station I won't recommend you watch, but news about the fox mentioned and shown in my previous post.

The letter my sister wrote to our local newspaper was printed unabridged, word for word, next to another reader's letter about the same topic. On social media, all hell broke lose, and even PETA (an animal protection organisation) spoke up for "our" fox. The next day, another article in the paper followed. Now all of a sudden everyone agrees that the fox is not dangerous, and even if the palace grounds manager still sticks to his opinion that the park is not the right place for this kind of wildlife, there is no talk of having the fox shot anymore. Instead, they will try to catch it and move it elsewhere. Also, just in passing, the article mentions that shooting foxes is not allowed between April and August anyway. Duh!

So, yes, Hooray!!! Our fox seems to be safe for the moment. Hopefully, nobody will put poisoned food out to make it look like the fox just "disappeared".


In other news, I have had my eye surgery (left eye) on Tuesday morning. All went well. I am fine, still with a bit of discomfort (as was to be expected) but not in too much pain. The check-up on Wednesday morning showed nothing unusual, but it could be that things turn out even better than what the operation aimed for: From -14, my eyesight has been tested at -1,75 yesterday morning, with the original aim at -2,5!

It is VERY difficult and exhausting to have one eye still at -9 and the other freshly operated and at -1,75. I am allowed to read, watch TV and use the computer as long as I feel fine with it, but of course I can do only so much and only for a short time. I am also allowed to walk (I had to, in order to get to my check-up appointment and back), but nothing strenuous, and I have to be very careful with too much light.

Before: Monday evening, last meal before the operation.

After: Tuesday around 11:30, back home after the operation.

After: Wednesday after check-up.

Summer flowers in my mini garden.

Flowers delivered from Mum & Dad.

So I am spending my time like a vampire in a darkened flat, moving around a bit but resting a lot, which is the best I can do now that we have temperatures around 30 Celsius anyway.

My Mum came visiting yesterday, followed an hour or so later by my sister. Flowers were delivered from my Mum and Dad, and my sister took the faded spring flowers out of the mini-garden she gave me for my birthday in March and planted summer flowers for me.

Everybody is looking out for me, and I feel very well cared for.

Don't be fooled by my "complete" look - it will take weeks before I will be able to do more than half an hour or so at the computer, and I am determined not to let work get in the way of my full recovery. My eyes are too important to risk any negative long-term effects, if I can help it!

Next Monday, I will see my usual doctor (the first check-up was at the hospital where I was operated). And now, it is time for breakfast!

Saturday 12 June 2021

Flowers and Foxes

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know how much I love the palace grounds of my home town. Their official name is "Bl├╝hendes Barock", meaning "baroque in bloom" or "blooming baroque" - you will find both version on the official website with plenty of pictures and information in English, if you are interested.

For weeks and weeks now, the gates to the park only opened for those who had been either tested negative less than 24 hours ago, fully vaccined or officially recovered from a Covid infection not longer than half a year ago. Sounds complicated? It was, and it kept me from going there. There is still no vaccine in sight for me, and I can't be bothered to stand in the queue at one of the officially recognised testing centers just for a stroll in the park.

But on Wednesday, those restrictions fell, and you bet the first thing my sister and I did after work was to walk across town and finally enter our beloved palace grounds again!

There were hardly any other people about, just a few families with kids and one elderly lady who enthused to us about how beautiful it was and how much she enjoyed being able to come here again - just like us.

But someone else was about! My sister had read about this new resident at the park on our local paper's instagram presence. A young fox had been spotted a few times by lone visitors over the past few weeks. She had sent me the link to the picture on instagram, and I was hoping - but not really expecting - to encounter the fox, too.

And guess what - we did!! Bending a corner of one of the paths in the more overgrown part of the park, we saw a movement ahead: It was the fox! He or she was obviously not bothered by us, and walked so close to us before a family of children came up from the other end of the path and made him/her disappear into the shrubbery. 

Hopefully, the video my sister made works for you:

It was the closest I have ever come to a fox, and I won't ever forget it! 

My only worry is that, with more people having access to the park again, someone will either see him (or her) as a potential threat to their children or be upset about the fox killing a young duck or other wildlife in the park, complaining to the authorities and demanding the fox' removal. Or, even worse, someone will lay out poisoned food or harm him/her otherwise. Anyway, I just hope the fox will know better than to get any closer to the park's visitors! On the other hand, of course I also hope we will meet again - just without anyone else present (except for my sister and O.K.).


Minutes after I finished writing this post, I checked the online issue of our local paper and promptly found an article about the "Unwanted Guest". 

Apparently, it is not the first time a fox makes his or her way over to the palace grounds from the deer park on the other side of the very busy main road. And apparently, it is not the first time they take measures to get rid of them. The park manager is quoted in the article saying that the fox is going to be shot by the local game warden, of course at a time when the park is closed for visitors. They say the park is no place for foxes. Well, maybe not; but is shooting the best they can think of? How about setting a live trap and moving the fox to a place that is better suited to wildlife? 

My sister has already written to the paper, asking just that. Every now and then, a letter written by my Mum, my sister or myself has made it into print. We wonder whether it will happen this time, or what the general reaction to the article will be.

Thursday 10 June 2021

An Unusual Weekend

Last weekend was unusual in that, for the first time in a long time, we did not go for a long walk or hike. We were at O.K.'s, and part of the time was spent doing jobs around his parents' house, such as cutting the ivy that was getting very much out of hand. I found another bird's nest (empty, of course) to add to the one I used this year for my Easter decoration.

Saturday started sunny but it was rather windy, and rain was forecast. The original idea had been to have a family BBQ at the allotment of O.K.'s parents, located just outside the village at the edge of the woods. But we decided against having it there, as there would have been no proper shelter. Instead, benches and a table as well as the grill were set up in front of the house. O.K. parked his car outside so that in case of rain we could quickly move into his garage - which we ended up doing long before the meat was done.

O.K. and his father bravely manned the grill in pouring rain, one of them holding an umbrella so that the other one could turn the meat over and look after the fire. It was fun, with food and drink being nice as always, and plenty to talk and laugh. Typically, the rain stopped not long after we had finished.

In the picture you can see the set-up before we moved to the garage. Look at the clouds gathering behind the house at the top end of the garden! The raised bed to the right was built last year by O.K. as a present for his mother's 80th birthday.

Sunday saw more rain. We tried to sneak in a walk around the village between showers, but what had begun as a slight drizzle developed into more while we were out, cutting our walk short. Never mind, I managed to finish the book I have reviewed in my previous post.

The picture above is from O.K.'s balcony, taken on Saturday morning when we were able to have coffee outside. O.K. recently bought new chairs, after the old ones were about 25 years old with the metal rusty and the arm rests beginning to flake. My contribution were the cushions, two with the pattern as shown in the photo and two without, just green, to mix and match. That weekend was the first time we used them.

Taking the usual train home on Monday morning, I was pleased that everything was on time, and I was at my desk half an hour before the first meeting of the day started.

Tuesday 8 June 2021

Read in 2021 - 5: In Good Faith

In Good Faith

#2 in the Joe Dillard Series

by Scott Pratt


A free ebook that for some reason sounded interesting enough from the brief summary that I downloaded it some years ago, I did want to know how it was going to work out but was not overwhelmed. 

Solid writing, the courtroom and procedure bits clearly based on how things are really done, as well as the main characters based on the author and his family; and yet, not entirely my cup of tea.

The story in short: Joe Dillard, a former defense attorney, turns prosecutor and is assigned a case that touches on everything dear to him, nearly costing him his own life during the showdown with the person responsible for several murders.

Needless to say, all turns out well in the end, and of course the reader is aware of this from the start - or it wouldn't be a series. There are still a few surprises along the road, and the suspense is definitely there.

Not a must-read, but a can-read, and it did not at all matter that I had not read #1 in the series. It made for a good read during several train rides and on a rainy Sunday afternoon when a walk was not a good idea.

The author's website is here, now managed by his son (Scott Pratt and his wife both died a few years ago). I had never heard of him before but have read through the handful of blog posts on his site, finding them rather touching.