Blue-Violet Iris Interior

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Collie and the Sky

I spent the last four days hanging out with my good collie friend, Mr. Gorgeous. The weather wasn't great, so I was tired and it wasn't very fun to walk Mr. Gorgeous in the chilly rain, but Mr. Gorgeous' house, which is on a hillside above the lake, is a fabulous place to watch incoming weather systems. I didn't bother to bring my fancy camera with me because it was too gray and wet and nasty out on most of the days to take macro photos, but I did capture some nice sky photos with my point-and-shoot.

Weather in this area comes out of the southwest, which, in the case of
Mr. Gorgeous' house, means you watch the incoming weather first clear the towers
of downtown Seattle (just visible to the left) before heading across the lake.

Fair weather approaches.

A rainbow arched below the departing storms.

The low, wet, lingering edges of the storm caught the orange light of the setting sun.

The views from this park, just down the street from Mr. Gorgeous' house,
were quite dramatic that evening!

Another day brought mostly clear skies to Mr. Gorgeous' neighborhood.

A clear blue evening with a thin wintry sunset settles over this little bay.

The sky was clear in all directions except for to northwest and straight ahead, where this large,
dark, solitary cloud sent translucent curtains of rain tumbling down on the far shore of the lake.

Mr. Gorgeous, who had recently been groomed, was in fine form, of course. He spent most of his time napping somewhere in my vicinity and looking handsome.

Here he is taking advantage of a sun-break.

They say fine feathers don't make a fine bird, but they sure do make a pretty collie!

It'll take me a couple of days to recover from my exploits with the weather and Mr. Gorgeous, but there are more deep thoughts in the offing, so be prepared!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

More Than Just My Diagnoses

I have a mental illness. I also have hazel eyes with freckle-like brown spots in them!

It's pretty common for those who have a chronic health problem to start feeling like they ARE their health problem. This can be particularly tough for people who are coping with mental health issues. Not only do mental illnesses change--against your will--the very nature of your thoughts and emotions (and therefore your actions), but often cause considerable feelings of shame as well. For many people, having a psychiatric disorder is not something they can be "out" about, so it's a burden borne alone, only enhancing the feeling of one's sick otherness. I want to remind all of those who have a mental illness, a physical ailment, or feel trapped in any kind of role ("mommy," "the fat girl," etc.) that you are so much more than your diagnosis!

My hair color at thirty.
I am bipolar II. I am also right-handed, likable, a visual thinker, creative, vegetarian, long-waisted, one-eighth Norwegian, 5'7", sensitive to medication, a good swimmer, intelligent, funny, allergic to dust (among other things), hypoglycemic, honest, a dog lover, articulate, a fast reader, afraid of heights, fond of birds, a good dancer, a night owl, a business owner, prone to seasickness, a fan of ice cream, and partial to 19th-century art and literature. I have chronic migraines, a good sense of direction, hazel eyes, a clean driving record, oily skin, attached earlobes, mild asthma, musical talent, a bunion, tight muscles, two cowlicks, a sweet tooth, a sensory processing disorder, an older sister, two chickenpox scars, slender fingers, vivid dreams, a hand tremor, prematurely gray hair, no piercings, and a perpetually runny nose.

This is part of who I am... 
I've been in a psychiatric hospital. I've also broken my right arm, shaved my head, traveled to four foreign countries, collapsed at a music festival, played violin in a youth symphony, studied German, had a colonoscopy, hit a home run, toured a silver mine, been mistaken for a boy, scratched my cornea, ridden in a race car, sung in a choir, visited 30 U.S. states, been in love, had mono, gone snowboarding, dropped out of grad school, been to London, needed stitches, chipped a front tooth, won awards, had turbinate surgery, encountered an alligator, taken photos, formed a goth cheer squad in high school, been invited to the White House, and have been awestruck by the sight of Lake Louise in the moonlight. is this.
Looking at me, you can't tell that I have migraines or a mental illness or used to have paralyzing anxiety. You also can't tell that I dislike talking on the phone, prefer drawing over painting, live with my parents, have always hated seafood, learned to walk at ten months, grew up with no TV, never cared much for coffee, enjoy cooking risotto, love taking long showers, can throw a ball but not a frisbee, won't watch scary movies, never been stung by a bee, know how to make lefse, like to read the encyclopedia, can drive a car with a stick-shift, walk well in high heels, was born in Seattle, like to draw floor plans, had a stuffed dog named Humphrey, want to learn to ride horses, played lead guitar in a rock band, and liked both algebra and calculus but none of the years of math in between.

Mental illnesses? Common.
That pigment stripe? Unusual.
Furthermore, I am hardly unique. According to the statistics I found on, some 40 million Americans suffer from an anxiety disorder, 46 million experience depression at some point in their lives, 3.2 million suffer from schizophrenia, and 2 million suffer from a bipolar spectrum disorder. This adds up to more than a third of the U.S. population! Additionally, some 51 million Americans have had at least one migraine. I suspect I am far more unusual in the fact that I have a bar of dark pigment on my lower lip that looks like I wrote on myself with pen and I have never once in my entire life had so much as a sip of beer.

My diagnoses are a part--but only a part--of the great, tangled mass of details that add up to who I am. No matter how overwhelming your illness or situation may seem, I want to assure that this is true of you, too.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Four Days with Mr. Gorgeous

I've been quite busy as of late because I've been walking my handsome collie buddy, Mr. Gorgeous (not his real name, but it could be!), on weekday afternoons. It's always fun to be out and about with such a good-looking fellow and I've taken my camera along on our excursions to various parks. The following is a visual summary of our time together.


Mr. Gorgeous' long collie muzzle.

He looks particularly majestic when lit by the amber light of the setting sun.

On Friday the magnificent Mr. Gorgeous and I went to Juanita Bay park. It's a very pretty park with broad lawns studded with willows and boardwalks that cross wetlands and lead to viewing platforms overlooking the bay. There are always lots of cool birds to be seen and on this particular trip we were treated to the sight of a flock of trumpeter swans that are wintering on the bay. Mr. Gorgeous is not particularly interested in wildlife or scenery, but he does like the many dogs and their walkers that can be found at the park!

I find the image of a walkway overarched with willows to be particularly romantic!

Sunlit winter cattails.

The weathered remains of several old docks and other structures jut from the bay's waters.

A pretty pink winter-blooming viburnum provided welcome color!


Collie on the move!

Mr. Gorgeous and a furry friend.

On Monday, Mr. Gorgeous and I stayed close to home. I had noticed some witch hazels in bloom up the street from his house, so we took a tour of the local landscaping (of which there is a great deal!) and then stopped by the neighborhood park. Back at the house, Mr. Gorgeous received a visit from a friend of his, a nice white Westie.

A bush full of small red berries.

Yellow witch hazel.

Pampas grass plume, which just so happens to look a lot like Mr. Gorgeous' tail!

Emerging buds.


Having a great romp with a new buddy.

Mr. Gorgeous was all smiles!

Tuesday's excursion was a trip to another nearby park. I didn't have a lot of extra time because I had an appointment later in the afternoon, making that particular park a convenient place to walk, but I also chose the park because I noticed hellebores starting to bloom in one of the yards we passed on our walk the day before and I knew that there were some easily-accessible beds with hellebores at the park! I got the flower photos that I wanted and Mr. Gorgeous ended up getting a chance to play off-leash with a Australian Shepherd. Mr. Gorgeous is not always very playful, but the two of them really hit it off! On the way back to his house, I spotted the park's resident bald eagles sitting together in a tree and snapped a photo. I also took one of the view of the mountains from the top of Mr. Gorgeous' driveway.

White hellebore.

Red-orange witch hazel.

Bald eagles.

Olympic Mountains, as seen framed by the trees at Mr. Gorgeous' house.


Exploring the dog park.

Mr. Gorgeous decided during his visit to the flower shop that the best place to take a load
off was near the dog biscuits (the box is just visible on the right), which are kept handy
by one of the designers in case a pooch happens to stop by!

He's so big that he fills the backseat of my car almost entirely!

 After several days of sunshine and unusually warm weather, the weather turned cool and drizzly once again on Wednesday. I decided that it was still worth visiting my city's brand new off-leash dog park. There weren't many dogs there, but Mr. Gorgeous had a good time sniffing everything and saying hi to everyone. A really fun dog who got all the dogs playing showed up right as Mr. Gorgeous and I were leaving, but we didn't stick around because we had another item on our agenda: visiting my old work, Fena Flowers! They were busy bringing in the flowers for Valentine's Day, but not so busy that they couldn't make a fuss over Mr. Gorgeous (which is his favorite thing anyway) and chat with me. I also took some more flower photos (some of photos from a previous visit can be viewed here).


A green and yellow cymbidium orchid.

A white and pink phalaenopsis orchid.

Lavender roses.

It added up to a very busy four days! We visited four parks, walked more than a mile every day, and I snapped more than three hundred photos! It should be no surprise that I am quite worn out now, but it was a great break in my routine to spend part of my day out and about with good ol' Mr. Gorgeous!

You can see more of the photos I took on my walks with Mr. Gorgeous in this album.

More photos taken at the flower shop can be viewed here.