Sunday, August 17, 2014

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Flowering Jordan Calendar~July 2014

Family, friends, showers, weddings, vacation, conversations, college trip = blogging in my head only. I hope to be back at it soon. For now, another wildflower--a very special one.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Early Mornings in Arizona

I've never been an early morning kind of person--except when I'm jet-lagging. Arriving back in the States via a five day stop over in Arizona, Dear Husband and I struggled to overcome our bodies' tendency to awake no later than 4 a.m. each morning. Five a.m. was sleeping in. The positive thing about rising so early is that early is just the right time to go for a walk in Arizona in the summertime.

Heading out the front door for a walk as the sun comes up--not my usual M.O., but I enjoyed it!

My dear in-laws live in a quiet sub-division near Phoenix, and just outside of the subdivision city planners have left a swath of land between two streets, running the length of several neighborhood blocks, as a sort of suburban nature reserve. All sorts of cacti, the likes of which I've never seen before, have been planted there, and the reserve is home to ground squirrels, rabbits, lizards--to name the fauna we saw during our walks--as well as many types of birds.

I was fascinated by the giant Saguaro cacti, often growing in peoples' front yards. Nearly every cactus had a cooing mourning dove (or two) sitting atop it and/or a woodpecker pecking it.

Mourning Dove

I learned a few names of the fascinating cacti flora. Let's see how many I can remember:

This is a prickly pear; I think it is designated as rose-colored, but I can't remember exactly...

Candlestick Cactus

Beaver Tail Cactus

I pointed out this heart-shaped cactus to Dear Husband as we walked along together--sweet!

Joshua Tree

Flowering Prickly Pear (I think). So pretty.

Senita Cactus

I was captivated by the teddy-bear cholla cactus. This is definitely not a cactus you'd want to cuddle up to!

The rosy-cheeked lovebirds were the prettiest birds that I observed  during my few days in Arizona.

This large lizard was nicely camouflaged among the twigs and dirt.

Saguaro flower--Arizona's state flower

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

PRS Update~Nearly One Year Post-Revision Surgery

Many have asked about Tatya's recovery from her revision surgery which she underwent last June. How is she doing? Has the swelling subsided? Will she need any more surgeries? How is her health? Thank you to so many of you who have prayed for her this past year, shared encouraging words, and asked questions which show your concern for Tatya. We have been in communication with her surgeon, Dr. John Seibert, and we were happy to receive his recent comments on her recovery and his prescription for the coming year.

Tayta's revision surgery was intended to be her final facial surgery, a follow up cosmetic surgery to remove excess tissue present from her free-flap tissue transplant surgery which took place in August 2012, and to correct the atrophy in her left lip. The surgery was successful, but Tayta has experienced residual swelling (left side) which, though decreasing, is still present.

After viewing the last round of photos of Tayta's face, her surgeon is overall happy with the results. Tatya will continue to massage the affected area a few times a day and may do a couple more steroid shots over the next year. We'll re-evaluate  her condition at two-years post-op, which will be next summer. Tayta was thrilled with this decision and prescription; she is happy with the results of her surgery, the condition of her face, and strongly felt that she didn't want to undergo another surgery at this time--not because it was painful or uncomfortable, but because she feels that her face is still healing and needs more time to recover fully from the last surgery.

 Tayta and friend 

We are all thankful that Tayta has not experienced any other symptoms of her disease, Parry Romberg Syndrome, which is believed to be an autoimmune disease, and thus has no cure. We pray and hope that her PRS is in permanent remission. Meanwhile, we are trying to educate ourselves about autoimmune diseases, as many who suffer from one autoimmune disease seem to be more susceptible to other  autoimmune diseases. Tayta has been working on establishing consistent, healthy life habits: exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and eating good foods. I was surprised at how willingly she decided to drastically cut back her sugar consumption. Tayta has developed her repertoire of desert recipes which contain no sugar and no flour, and we are all enjoying the benefits.

Thanks you to those who have cared for us these past two years by your prayers and words of encouragement. God has blessed us with so much love and support through your care.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Easter Weekend in the Desert

Easter weekend was nearly a month ago, but I don't want to miss remembering what a special and different kind of celebration we enjoyed with our friends in the south of Jordan. At the end of our three plus hour car trip on Thursday afternoon, we were welcomed into the home of our friends and served a delicious dinner. After dinner, Dear Husband, Tayta,  and I walked through the village to the medical clinic at which our friends work, and which serves the local community.

A clinic with a view

Our friends and some local children had colored the eggs earlier in the day, and we added the Sharpie pen embellishments. Tatya, who loves to doodle henna-style, was the most fluent egg-decorator and I copied a lot of her patterns.

Friday was a full day of visiting with our friends and all of their local friends who came to wish them a happy Easter, or "feast day". After the visits ended, we gathered for a delicious chicken dinner, which we ate on the veranda. Dessert was served as we enjoyed the sunset together.

On Saturday, our friends helped us to enjoy more beauty of the semi-arid desert:. First we went out to enjoy the end of a fantastic spring wildflower season. A highlight for me was viewing the Petra Iris, Jordan's black iris of the south, for the first time.

Petra Iris
Iris petrana

Yellow Asphodel
Asphodeline lutea

Egyptian Henbane

Horned Poppy

another desert asphodel

After some very satisfying wildflower spotting, our friends took us on a hike, down into the gorge/valley behind their house. Tayta and I had our first experience of rock scrambling in long skirts and headscarves! I appreciated the headscarf as it protected me from a lot of wind and dust--the long skirt, not so much, but it really wasn't too bad.

And still more wildflowers to be discovered:

Zill spinosa

This was my first spotting of Wooly Saltwort. It first appeared as a field of lavender "fluff" and reminded me of something that might be found growing on the planet Malacandra in C.S. Lewis's "Out of the Silent Planet".

Wooly Saltwort
Bassia eriophora

Another pretty thistle

On Sunday morning we met with friends to celebrate Jesus's resurrection in the ruins of a Byzantine church in Humayma. After the service, the children hunted for chocolate eggs...

...and I hunted for a few more wildflowers. The south was new wildflower spotting territory for me and I was intrigued by the flora beauty to be found in the near desert environment.

A type of Cousina thistle (I think)



Desert beauty