03/15/17

I Saw the Light, A Tale of Vision

I Saw the Light, A Vision Tale

I saw the light, a vision tale, is a personal story about cataracts. At one time I probably would not have written about that, but now I know a fair number of friends have some degree of cataracts. This should be a hopeful tale.

Light has always been important to me. Even as a little kid traveling through the Southwest on family vacations, I “felt” the light of the high desert. It was years later before I could express anything about that, though. I lived in southern Arizona from 1969-1976, when I was working on my PhD at the University of Arizona. I just knew I liked it there. After that I had a job teaching at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. At that point, I was aware of how important light was to me. I enjoyed many aspects of life in Kansas City, but not the extended periods of dark, gray skies and cold, windy winters. Springs were magnificent. I moved to Albuquerque in 1985. While I like to visit other places, I am always happy to get home and back to the light of the high desert. Although sunrises and sunsets have been called by some “the greatest cliché” in photography, I show them here because I really like them. I think the people who knock them have never seen a real New Mexico sky. 😉

light

New Mexico Sunrise. The Spot Where the Sun Will Rise Is Appaent.

Background

Several years ago, my ophthalmologist told me I had cataracts. He also said, “You don’t need to do anything about them now. You’ll know when you need to do something.” Something akin to a “decisive moment,” I guess. I saw him in early November and told him I was not having any problems.

Many of you know Tim and Laurie. Some of you know that my journey into digital photography began in 2008, when my little Nikon Coolpix died while I was photographing roses in their garden. I replaced that with a compact digital, but a complex one. So, I had to go take some classes, and one thing led to another, and another, and another… That all started in their rose garden.

Late in November I was out in Corrales with Tim and Laurie, photographing some cranes that were right there close to their house. Laurie had a wonderful meal, and we sat and talked, and I stayed well past dark. That was a Saturday night. For those of you who know Albuquerque, Alameda was bumper to bumper traffic from Corrales to the Northeast Heights. And I was “blinded by the light”of the headlights of every oncoming car. At least I knew what was causing that. But, I was very happy to get home, and I have not yet driven again at night since.

I saw the cataract surgeon in December, and the earliest date was in March. So, I took it.

This was a long, dark winter, although not cold. My house seemed really dark. I kept thinking I needed more lamps, or maybe even some additional light fixtures. Anything to make the house brighter!!!

Cataracts and Color

I saw my regular doctor in February. He told me that I would love the brightness and “all the color” once I had my cataracts fixed. I thought to myself, “what?” with respect to color and cataracts. Many of you are familiar with the work I have done with my son, who, like my father, has severe red deficient color vision. I’ve seen my ophthalmologist for years because I am on a medication that has the potential to damage the retinas. Today there are highly sophisticated tests to assess the retinas and any changes, but when I first started going, color vision was part of the assessment. The cones that detect different wavelengths of light are part of the retina. The patient arranged a series of colored cylinders. The Munsell Hue Test is no longer part of the evaluation, but you can see an online version and try it yourself:
Munsell Color Test
Keep in mind there are many limitations in the virtual world, such as differences in monitors, lighting conditions, and so forth.

I had never had any problems with that test in the ophthalmologist’s office, but I decided to try the online test. I keep my monitor color-calibrated, and in good lighting conditions for working with color photographs. I was “shocked, shocked I tell you” with my results on February:

light

Color hue discrimination test, 2_5_2017

Color Vision and My Family

Color changes usually associated with aging, toxins, etc. tend to affect the blue-yellow axis. To me, my results appeared more red-green. So I immediately took the Enchroma Color Vision Test, knowing the limits of online testing. I was shocked that my results came back Mild Protanopia. My father had and my son has Severe Protanopia. My father, son, and I do have the same X-chromosome that so severely affects their color vision. As a female, I have another X-chromosome, a normal one, from my mother. That allowed me to see colors normally most of my life. I think, although I do not know for sure, that when the cataracts began to affect my color vision, that decreased the protective effect of the normal X-chromosome, and allowed some expression of the red color deficiency carried on the chromosome from my father. I do not know that as an absolute fact. It is my working explanation of some of the phenomena I see in my personal experience.

Until I did the Munsell Test online, I was not aware of any changes in my color vision. This is in spite of the fact I have spent so much time working on the color vision of others.

The Surgery

Even though cataract surgery is very “routine” these days, I did worry a bit. I mean, it is surgery on your eyes, the window to the world from someone looking out.
I had to be at the surgery center by 8:00am. I was home by 10:15, and served coffee and banana bread to my mom and to her friend who had driven us.
I had no pain. I had blurry vision in that eye, a short term effect of the surgery.

After the Surgery, the Light!

By that evening, some of the blurriness began to clear. More amazing was the light! The room kept getting brighter and brighter. It was almost like watching a sunrise, except with white light. I did not expect this at all. I had the surgery because I wanted to be able to drive at night. All the dark corners of that room became bright before I went to bed. It was like an unexpected miracle! When I covered my left eye and looked with only my right eye, things appeared as what had become my normal. When I covered my right eye and looked only with my left eye, things looked bright and “clean.” I realize now that through my right eye, which still has a cataract, I see things with a very slight cyan cast.
But, it is the overall brightness everywhere that is so beautiful and so amazing to me. I did not know I would see such a drastic change.

After the Surgery, Color

Five days after the surgery, I repeated the Munsell Color Test. These were the results:

visual tale

Color hue discrimination test after surgery_3_11_2017

Quite a change from February’s results.

I repeated the test the following day:

visual tale

Color hue discrimination test after surgery_3_12_2017

I will not repeat this test until I get my right eye done next month. But I will note, yesterday in the gym I realized some of the balls that I had always considered green were actually turquoise. I want to stress that I had not been aware of color changes, and I have done some work with color deficient vision in other people.

Seeing

Two days after the surgery I knew I was seeing distance as well without glasses as with my prescription glass. Less than a week after the surgery I was out driving with my prescription glasses, and realized they were interfering with good vision. “Get.These.Off!!!!” Those glasses are history! And that is after surgery on only one eye. I’m getting along quite well with reading glasses for close work, and no glasses for everything else.

I saw, and am continuing to see, the light. It was such an unexpected gift. I just wanted to be able to drive at night. 🙂

Country gospel is not usually part of the rotation of my playlists. But since that first night, sitting in my family room and watching it getting brighter and brighter almost by the minute, this old Hank Williams song keeps running through my head. We may assign different meanings to light, but we share the pure joy.

03/12/17
setting full moon

Full Moon Setting

Full Moon Setting

Full moon setting this morning was spectacular! Who knew about this one? I caught it only when I went out for the paper. It reminded me of some of the autumn moons. I guess that should not be surprising, since the location in the sky is about the same. This was a very pleasant surprise!

full moon setting

Full Moon Setting

Here are some quotes about the moon:

“The moon does not fight. It attacks no one. It does not worry. It does not try to crush others. It keeps to its course, but by its very nature, it gently influences. What other body could pull an entire ocean from shore to shore? The moon is faithful to its nature and its power is never diminished.”
~ Ming-Dao Deng, Everyday Tao: Living with Balance and Harmony

“But even when the moon looks like it’s waning…it’s actually never changing shape. Don’t ever forget that.”
~ Ai Yazawa, Nana, Vol. 14

“We must strive to be like the moon.’ An old man in Kabati repeated this sentence often… the adage served to remind people to always be on their best behavior and to be good to others. [S]he said that people complain when there is too much sun and it gets unbearably hot, and also when it rains too much or when it is cold. But, no one grumbles when the moon shines. Everyone becomes happy and appreciates the moon in their own special way. Children watch their shadows and play in its light, people gather at the square to tell stories and dance through the night. A lot of happy things happen when the moon shines. These are some of the reasons why we should want to be like the moon.”
~ Ishmael Beah

“I never really thought about how when I look at the moon, it’s the same moon as Shakespeare and Marie Antoinette and George Washington and Cleopatra looked at.”
~ Susan Beth Pfeffer, Life As We Knew It

03/5/17
sunrise

Sunrise: Two Views

Sunrise: Two Views

Sunrise, with two views – one from my back yard, one from my front yard. These are separated by a few steps and two minutes. Note the change in colors during that short period and short walk.

sunrise

Sunrise from My Back Yard, 6:20:15

sunrise

Sunrise from My Front Yard, 6:22:32

Many of you are regular readers here and at Tim Price’s blog, Off Center and Not Even. Tim and Laurie live around 10 miles northwest of where I live, and we frequently comment on how very different the views are of the sky and its various phenomena. Today, I thought I would show what a difference a few steps and two minutes can make.

Some Sunrise Quotes

A sunrise or sunset can be ablaze with brilliance and arouse all the passion, all the yearning, in the soul of the beholder.”
~ Mary Balogh, A Summer to Remember

HEARTWORK

Each day is born with a sunrise
and ends in a sunset, the same way we
open our eyes to see the light,
and close them to hear the dark.
You have no control over
how your story begins or ends.
But by now, you should know that
all things have an ending.
Every spark returns to darkness.
Every sound returns to silence.
And every flower returns to sleep
with the earth.
The journey of the sun
and moon is predictable.
But yours,
is your ultimate
ART.”
~ Suzy Kassem

There is, I have heard, a little thing called sunrise, in which the sun reverses the process we all viewed the night before. You might assume such a thing as mythical as those beasts that guard the corners of the earth, but I have it on the finest authority, and have, indeed, from time to time, regarded it with my own eyes.”
~ Lauren Willig, The Garden Intrigue

Sunrise looks spectacular in the nature; sunrise looks spectacular in the photos; sunrise looks spectacular in our dreams; sunrise looks spectacular in the paintings, because it really is spectacular!”
~ Mehmet Murat ildan

03/4/17
yellow rumped warbler

Yellow Rumped Warbler

Yellow Rumped Warbler

This western warbler was previously known as “Audubon’s Yellow Rumped Warbler.” The eastern variety was known as the Myrtle warbler. Not too long ago they were lumped under one name. However, there are some distinct differences. The western variety has a yellow chin, seen clearly here.

yellow rumped warbler

Yellow Rumped Warbler, Previously Known as Audubon’s Yellow Rumped Warbler

I was not aware of this bird until Mary, owner at Wild Birds Unlimited here in Albuquerque, noted it in one of her monthlhy columns in the Albuquerque Journal. The day I read it, I looked out at my bark butter feeder, and there were two of them, happily eating!

This is the first photo I have of this warbler. They move pretty quickly, and usually don’t sit around waiting for a photographer. 🙂 As things happen, I was photographing some of our very common house finches. They are in their breeding plumage now, and can be quite handsome. This little warbler decided to photobomb. It showed off all the key identification markers for our western variety of warbler.

To learn more about this warbler, check out The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and/or Bird Note.

02/28/17
orchids

Clearing Clutter

Clearing Clutter, Orchids, and Other Thoughts

What to do when you finally finish clearing years of accumulated clutter from a room… ? Give the room some beautiful, living flowers, of course. 🙂

orchids

Orchids

Quote for the Day:

It was the end of some sort of career. I don’t know why, exactly. I suppose that flowers, when they’re through blooming, have some sort of awareness of some purpose having been served. Flowers didn’t ask to be flowers and I didn’t ask to be me. At the end of Slaughterhouse-Five…I had a shutting-off feeling…that I had done what I was supposed to do and everything was OK .”
~ Kurt Vonnegut, Conversations with Kurt Vonnegut

02/28/17
cardiac resuscitation

Hands Only Cardiac Resuscitation

Hands Only Cardiac Resuscitation: “Stayin’Alive”

Hands only cardiac resuscitation with chest compression replaced cardiopulmonary resuscitation with artificial respiration along with chest compression as the preferred method for laypersons in 2010. Studies showed a better outcome for patients with an unwitnessed cardiac event outside a medical setting treated with compression only until medical help arrived. Several possible explanations have been offered for this. Notably, people trained in this method are more likely to help, perhaps because the requirement for mouth-to-mouth resuscitation has been dropped.

Earlier this month I showed a kit I carried for use with CPR back in the “old days.” Life can be funny. Unexpected opportunities can pop up in unusual ways when one is open to receiving them. Some of you who read here know that I spend an hour a day, six days a week at the PHS Healthplex. I do this not to live longer, but to live better while I am alive. Just in being there, I was aware that Erin, one of the Exercise Specialists, did cardiac resuscitation testing for some of the EMT’s in town. I gave her a copy of that blog post, just for the sake of history of medicine.

Erin told me that the next week she was teaching the first class for people in the community who belonged to the Healthplex. I was very interested in learning how this worked. So, last week I took this class.

First, thanks to Erin, and to Nick, another Exercise Specialist, who team taught this class. They made it fun, and they made sure every person got individual attention during the hands-on portion o the class.

Images from the Class

Every two people in the class had a MiniAnne on which to practice. I thought MiniAnne was pretty creepy looking, and I was glad mouth-to-mouth was not required in this class. 😉

cardiac resuscitation

MiniAnne

cardiac resuscitation

MiniAnne Training Model for Cardiac Resuscitation

cardiac resuscitation

Back Side of MiniAnne Training Model for Cardiac Resuscitation

The model was less creepy when we came to the hands-on training. Each model “clicks” when the compressions are firm enough. It took some practice to get that feel. Erin and Nick came by to make sure everyone in the class “got it.”

cardiac resuscitation

Practicing Cardiac Resuscitation

cardiac resuscitation

Nick Helping Nancy

A gif of Nick helping Nancy:

cardiac resuscitation

Nick Helping Nancy

Nancy’s got it and is practicing:

cardiac resuscitation

Nancy Practicing Cardiac Resuscitation

Just for fun: the rate of compressions is 100 per minute. We were encouraged to let the song “Stayin’Alive” run through our heads. So, here is a reminder of the song. 🙂

You never know when someone might need help. The class was fun. Check around and see if a class is available in your area. You’ll be glad you did.

02/26/17

Sunrise with Crepuscular Rays

Sunrise with Appearance and Disappearance of Crepuscular Rays

Crepuscular rays are a fairly common occurrence at sunrise (especially) and sunset here in Albuquerque. Sometimes I wonder if they happen even more frequently than I realize. The vivid colors of sunrise are brief, but these “fingers of God” rays are even briefer. The images in this gif are from 6:35:50-6:37:33.

crepuscular rays

Watch the Appearance and Disappearance of Crepuscular Rays in this Fiery Sunrise

This image is from 6:35:32, and shows the layer of clouds over the Sandias, most of which never developed vivid colors (sometimes the whole sky lights up). I do not see distinct rays in this image. They began to appear in less than 30 seconds. I just happened to be out, hoping for a colorful sunrise.

sunrise

Sunrise at 6:35:32

All images in this post are jpgs, with cropping only. Yes, sunrises here really can be that colorful. I was glad I was up to catch this one. I hope you enjoy the gif.

Quote for the day:

“Serenity is when you get above all this, when it doesn’t matter what they think, say or want, but when you do as you are, and see God and Devil as one.”
~ Henry Miller

02/21/17
signs of spring

Signs of Spring

Signs of Spring

Signs of spring are popping up and out everywhere. Here in the high desert, we could still experience winter, of course. But the days that speak of Spring are so glorious. I like the Ernest Hemingway quote:

“When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest.”

This may be false spring, or, given climate change, may be the beginning of real spring. I’m going to enjoy these early signs.

The bright little crocus are one of the earliest, easily spotted, harbingers of Spring.

signs of spring

Crocus – One of the Signs of Spring

But, there are numerous, though subtle, signs that Spring is on the way.

Rose ‘Buffalo Gal,” a hybrid rugosa, beginning to leaf out.

signs of spring

Rose ‘Buffalo Gal’ Just Beginning to Leaf Out

This developing birch catkin says, “Spring is on the way.”

signs of spring

Developing Birch Catkin

Rosemary is known for the flavor it adds to food more than delicate blue flowers, but the flowers are pretty.

signs of spring

Tiny Bloom on Rosemary. Better Known for Flavorful Addition to Foods.

A dwarf peach, “Bonanza,” is one of my favorite specimen plants. I was surprised to see this little bud beginning to show just a touch a color. It really is too early, but it does speak to the hope of Spring.

signs of spring

Peach Bud Just Barely Showing Color

I hope you are enjoying beautiful weather wherever you are.

02/13/17
Albuquerque Winter

Albuquerque Winter

Albuquerque Winter

“Albuquerque Winter” may make some people laugh. Although we do see flashes of it here in town, they usually are neither long nor severe. The State of New Mexico depends on mountain snowpack for water.

The end of last week and Saturday saw spring-like temperatures, and sunny, brilliant days. Sunday morning’s wind hinted at change to come. Compare Sunday’s sunrise to that of Saturday’s (in the prior post). In addition to the clouds blowing along in the sky, note the cloud bank rolling over the top of the Sandias.

Albuquerque Winter

A Stormy and Windy Sunrise in Albuquerque

As the sun set Sunday night, the winds increased, and rain fell briefly. Within a matter of minutes, the rain turned to snow. Thankfully, the winds died down. I awoke this morning to a beautiful, soft snow.

Albuquerque Winter

Birch Tree with Snow

The snow is already melting, and the streets are clear. However, more snow is due tonight into tomorrow. We do need the moisture, and if it does not last too long, it will just be part of a typical Albuquerque winter.

02/11/17
New Mexico sunrise

Just Another New Mexico Sunrise

Just Another New Mexico Sunrise

Just another New Mexico sunrise…

New Mexico sunrise

New Mexico Sunrise

Although this one was soft and gentle, I nevertheless thought of the words of D. H. Lawrence:

I think New Mexico was the greatest experience from the outside world that I have ever had. It certainly changed me forever. . . . the moment I saw the brilliant, proud morning shine high up over the deserts of Santa Fe, something stood still in my soul, and I started to attend. . . . In the magnificent fierce morning of New Mexico one sprang awake, a new part of the soul woke up suddenly and the old world gave way to a new.

There are all kinds of beauty in the world, thank God, though ugliness is homogeneous. . . . But for a greatness of beauty I have never experienced anything like New Mexico.

People either love or hate the desert. No in-between exists. From the time I was a child, passing through on family vacations, I knew at some level my soul resided in the Southwest. New Mexico has many economic problems, but no state can match it for sheer natural beauty, day in and day out.

Most of the sky images I show here are from my backyard. This one, however, is from my front porch The best show was to the northeast, rather than east. I was happy I looked. 🙂