Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Stepped on a Crack

Don't step on a crack or you will break your mother's back. -Unknown

Although I backdated the last two posts to when I planned to post them, those precious few of my reading friends know that I had not posted anything for over a month and not much before then either. Now I will tell you a bit about why that happened.

First of all, we had a cool spring with few bugs and I tried to take advantage of it as much as possible, working in my gardens, buying pretty annual and biennial plants, planting and weeding, mixing in compose of bunny berries and worms. I have had a highly aggressive weed take over my herb garden the past couple of years that I have dug out several times and covered the soil with paper bags for months to kill it off but it has a root system that goes deep and spreads. I finally have given up on organic means and began to use chemicals on the ones in the foot path area where I have not planted herbs we would be eating. Maybe my Irish and Scottish mosses will come back in between the stepping stones....? In addition, we are in a drought so I have had to spend extra time and water on keeping my distressed plants thriving.

My husband had to spend two weeks in the United Kingdom for training the first two weeks of June. A week before he left, I decided that I would begin redecorate the master bathroom. It has never been done since we moved here 19 years ago this September, but we have done some things along the way.

For one, we changed out the light fixtures. Everything in this house was brass and I dislike brass, especially with a contemporary style, so the brass light fixtures were the first to go when I found bargain priced replacements that I liked. Besides that, all the brass knobs and hinges are worn and discolored so I am quite happy to replace them.

Two, we had bought metal ornament wall plates, hooks (rather than towel racks), other wall fixtures, and a wood curio cabinet years ago that all matched. They are all an off-white.

I know it sounds like these two different colors will not work together, but they will when I have it completed.

Now I have to say here that I have a problem when it comes to redecorating: I am the reverse Scotty of the original Star Trek. Scotty would tell the captain that whatever was wrong would take something like two weeks to fix, but somehow he would do it in two hours. Well, I have this idealistic dream that it will only take me two weeks to do a room and it always takes two least, even working on it over eight to twelve hours a day most days. In my defense, the previous owner painted the walls with a sponged on faux technique. She did it poorly but I now understand why she chose it: It did a very good job at hiding all the unfinished detail work that builder left and the owner did not want to do, like little pock marks from bubbles in the plaster that were not plastered over and then sanded smooth. Whenever I do a room for the first time in this house, it takes far longer than it should because of things like this. When we took the wall paper off of walls in the room that now belong to the Princess, we found the plaster was rough and not sealed correctly so half way up the wall all the way around the room, the plaster had to be redone, finished, and sealed. So it goes, but later for details of the bathroom redo.

I did get the wall for the light fixture painted with two coats and most of the sanding of the walls finished and the plaster dust cleaned up Saturday before my husband would be arriving home so that the bathroom was usable at least. I had called his mother that morning but she did not answer and she did not call back, which was odd. A bit later she sent out an email to a group of contacts that she had not been at her computer and probably would not be for a while as she had fallen on Wednesday and was in too much pain to move around much.

My husband, of course, at that moment was still over the Atlantic Ocean and would not know this until we picked him up, most likely. Had she told us this on Wednesday, he could have changed his flight to check on her and I might have driven down and met him there—this was only one of the many more "had she just..." yet to be known to us.

So, he called her that night and found she had been clipping some bushes and tripped over the garden edging when backing out. After the fall she was unable to get up so she crawled over to fence calling for her neighbor. The neighbor called the fire department because that is no charge, when an ambulance would be—the elderly on Medicare have this all figured out. The firemen got her on her feet and she felt a bit sore but okay. By Friday she was in so much pain that she would only sit and sleep in the recliner, use a walker to get to the bathroom and kitchen, and was not doing anything else. My husband suggested for her to ice the area. Had she just either gone into the emergency room or seen a doctor that day, she would probably not have drawn out what was going to be very painful days for her all alone.

My husband did not plan to go see her and, in his defense, the long flight and time zone difference usually takes about two days to feel completely normal. So the next morning after he slept, I suggested we needed to go see her, but not to tell her we were coming. Instead of going to church we made arrangements with our housesitter, who thankfully was free until Thursday. My husband mowed the lawn and cleaned the rabbit cages while I took all the bathroom things back out of the guestroom, did laundry, and made our raw dog food mix to take with us. We all packed and left on Monday morning to drive to Florida with our dog along. The bad part was my husband was supposed to have Monday and Tuesday as comp days, but the office scheduled him to be an account on Tuesday and they could not change it, so he had to fly out on Tuesday morning and would not be returning until Wednesday late afternoon. I would have two days with his mother while she was in pain trying to convince her to get past her thinking she would be all right with a little rest and over her fear of finding out it was something more serious—which, being empathic, I already knew was the case.

We gave her therapy with my frequency device that I have used for many years but she was not responding as would be typical of a misalignment of the spine at L1, which was the vertebra I knew had the problem. I kept urging her that if we went to a chiropractor that we could at least get x-rays to know what the injury was, at this point the injury was over a week old. She finally agreed and we took her to one that some friends of hers go to on Thursday. As soon as the chiropractor said he was concerned about a compression fracture, I knew that was exactly it. Next day, Friday, we returned for the findings and she definitely had a compression fracture at L1 and the intense pain she felt was caused by the instability of several microfractures.

Now this is not a chiropractic issue, so we would have to find a doctor that performs vertebroplasty, which is an injection of a substance into the vertebra that "cements" the microfractures within fifteen minutes. The doctor they suggested was booked for three weeks and required that her primary doctor refer her. The problem there was her primary doctor is not in the office on Fridays but in the hospital in surgery, because he is actually a cardiology specialist and surgeon who had treated her husband for his heart condition. I called around a few places while praying. One said they were booked to September! However, that same one suggested another doctor who would most likely be able to see her much sooner.

I called the number she gave me and answered that it was an imaging facility. I explained I was given this number for Dr. B. and she assured me I had the right place. Now I begin to explain the situation, the fall, we are in from out of state and cannot stay very long, her primary doctor is out of the office so he cannot refer her, etc. The first thing the lady said was no referral was necessary and she may be able to fit her in that day as the doctor was coming in for an emergency. So, within the hour we had forms filled out and MRIs where being taken. Mom was put as ease when they told us that her primary doctor and Dr. B. were very good friends. They would have done the procedure that day had it not been for the blood thinner medication, but it was scheduled for Monday morning. If ever there was a time that God moved mountains when we needed them moved, this certainly was one of those times, but we stressed to Mom that if she had been living closer to us, we would have had her in to be checked out immediately after the fall and we think it did scare her a bit as she is now at least considering moving.

I had driven home on Saturday with the Princess and our dog because our housesitter had already started sitting at another client's house, but was returning to feed the cats and rabbits as well as water the plants. My husband hoped to stay the week but the office wanted him back and Mom was recuperating as expected so he flew out to North Carolina to work on Wednesday and flew home Friday. After the procedure, the worse of the pain would decrease immediately and Mom would not cause more damage with normal movements.

Since beginning the bathroom redecoration, I was a bit more tired than usual, but this unplanned trip on top of it really wiped me out. I have been very tired ever since. In fact, I still cannot get my head wrapped around this only happened last week! Our vacation seems like it was six months ago and Mom's injury two months ago and we had been there weeks rather than just one. I am just plain worn out!

My daughter left for a Christian youth camp for this week on Monday, my husband worked from home Monday and Tuesday but he is flying out this morning, and I need to begin planning our homeschool curriculum because I planned to start back into that after the camp, which may not happen as I hoped because I hoped to be further along with the bathroom before we started and then I have struggling with having physical and mental stamina to deal with just the normal daily stuff. However, my husband and I got a chiropractic adjustment yesterday and since I have been feeling a bit better. So with my husband east working and my daughter south at camp, I am now home all alone with my dog, cats, and the rabbits and that challenging unfinished bathroom—time to get back to work.

My Lord, thank you for moving mountains for us to get Mom's injury treated and please bless her with a quick recovery. Also, my Lord, please restore me.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Imagined Reality

Men should use the men’s bathroom and women should use the women’s bathroom. Just because a man may "feel" like a woman doesn’t mean he should be able to share a bathroom with my daughter, or yours. That used to be called common sense.
-Phil Robertson, patriarch of "Duck Dynasty"

Just before we left on vacation there was a serious transgender bathroom school policies controversy that was all the talk thanks to our end-term president threatening to pull federal funds out of schools that do not comply with his wishes for students to use whichever bathroom and locker room that they identify as their gender. While at the museum, we were in a Christian safe environment but I had begun to ask myself questions. What if my daughter at four years old had told me she was really a boy? What if, indeed. Well, children like to pretend lots of things. Some want to believe they are a super hero and wear costumes day after day and it can last for months in some cases. Even so, these are normal phases.

When a child puts on a superman costume, it is understandable that people will play along, but when that child jumps off a build believing he will fly, that would be going beyond what is normal behavior. Sometimes our playing along is too convincing, too supportive, too accommodating, too attentive, especially when the child has been enabled to alter his perception of reality. My reality check to the flying argument there would be that superman can take off from the ground, so if you cannot jump up and stay in the air from the ground, you are just going to fall going off a building. I remember as a young child jumping off a couple of steps repeatedly for an entire summer in the backyard believing that one of those times I would really fly...didn't happen, but I was determined I could do it just the right way once and I would fly. I even dreamed of flying, so it had to be true!

I do not get why it is demanded of everyone to not only play along with a child's imagination, but to encourage them to the point that they cross over to denying reality or trying to change themselves to fit what they want they believe is their little private reality that no one else sees yet. I remember wishing I was a boy when I was younger because boys were into taking apart bikes and having pocket knifes. It is not that girls cannot do those things, it was just not as common for girls to want to do those things. If I wanted to wear boy clothes and my brother wanted to wear girl clothes, it was for fun, but even with our messed up childhoods and abused hearts, we were not confused about our genders. I just cannot relate with this catering to men who have chosen to change their appearance and welcoming them to use the same public bathroom as my daughter and me. Sorry, but no.

What about the pedofile's little private reality, where a man or woman believes children are capable of consensual sex? Some would say that is completely different. Well, yes and no. They want it to be true and they acted on it as if it were and they were blinded by their own desires to see the harm it caused to others. People would argue that a transgender person does not cause harm to other people. I think that if you talk to the families of most, you would find some deeply hurting and struggling hearts there.

My daughter did tell me one thing when she was four years old. I do not remember what I had said to her, but in the sentence I addressed her as "Child" to which she quipped sternly and quite seriously, "I am not a child, I am a woman!" (It still makes me giggle thinking of how she said it.) She really meant it, maybe for a time she really believed it and wanted me to accept it also, but I still treated her like my four-year-old child. She is still highly imaginative and creativity, but she also has accepted and learned to work through life within this: reality is the reality.

My Lord, this is such a fallen world. How much longer can You endure it?

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Vacation May 2016 - Part 2

What you believe about who you are, where you came from, affects your whole worldview. -Ken Ham

I am back dating the publishing date this to when I started this post rather than when I finished it, because over a month flew by and much happened in that time. So here is the rest of the story of our vacation.

Having settled ourselves in downtown Cincinnati suite, we well were poised for 25-30 minute drive to the main attraction of our vacation: the Creation Museum. We arrived an hour before it opened because we did not check the times, but there were no barriers or guards once we were inside the main gate, so we walked in the gardens as it was not raining, although it was a bit cool. Such lovely colors and textures that I would like to incorporate in my own gardens!

Even local wildlife got into the act! We spotted a wild rabbit and a bird nest.

What can I say? You just never know what to expect with a teenager in the wild.

Then it was open. Since the weather was good for it and my husband had this burning desire to do it, the first thing we did was buy tickets for zip-lining. (You may remember my aversion to heights, if not scroll down No Public School Day to The Really Crazy Thing I Did at Stone Mountain Park.) Tickets for zip lining can sell out quickly, but schools were still in session and we went on Wednesday so there were not that many visitors, let alone those wanting to zip line. I mean, there was a couple of buses with a large retiree group, maybe a bus full of teenagers from a Christian school with strict dress codes of skirts only for girls, a few families of homeschoolers, and perhaps a small group of Mennonite teenagers. We went for level 2 and were three of the four to zip line in our group, which has a ten person maximum.

Although I dislike heights still, I have gotten better since the SkyHike encounter at Stone Mountian years ago. Climbing up is not as much of an issue. Standing on a narrow platform a few stories up and having some time to think is a bigger issue.

Jumping off that first platform even in a secure harness over a large pond after having time to think was the biggest issue.

Then there was remembering how to slow down when I was still just dealing with the height thing, but all went well for all of us.

We actually did not go into the museum proper to see exhibits the first day but we did all that the second day. The museum is really great. I was hoping that they would have expanded a bit more on historical accounts of dragons in the displays, but it was well worth the two days we spent there. We listened to two lectures (one on the first day and the other on the second), bought some books, watched two free short videos on the first day, and walked through the petting zoo area on the first day. We did not get to the planetarium films and I would have liked to have spent some more time in the gardens, but at least we left some things to do for another time...since no one go this eaten this time.

The one thing that changed my perspective on creation vs. some form of Christian-based evolution is that I believed it really did not matter what a person beliefs about how God created the world or how long it took Him to do it as long as one believed God created everything. I personally have chosen to believe in a literal six day creation and a young earth. After going through the museum and hearing Dr. Terry Morterson's lecture covering some highlights of Coming to Grips with Genesis: Biblical Authority and the Age of the Earth (one of the books I bought), I came away with a sense of the importance of being grounded in that belief far stronger than I ever have in my entire life. He went through the history of how famous Christians bent their beliefs to accommodate scientific beliefs of evolution and I could have listened to him speak for at least another hour or two. Wow...just wow!

The exhibits for the last 3 C's of the 7 C's of History are yet to be completed: creation, corruption, catastrophe, confusion, Christ, cross, and consummation. Then there is the upcoming Ark Encounter exhibit, which is just Phase I of something more of a theme park, is opening in early July. This life size ark is not at the Creation Museum, but about 40 miles south of it. We probably will not go in its first year of opening as it is expected to be very crowded, but next year sounds promising. The museum even it its present state it is enough to wear out a teenager.

The last day of our vacation, we planned to stay at a hotel just a couple hours from home. We wanted to hike and had a place in mind but it had been raining so much in the entire area from Georgia up through Ohio that we decided not take a chance that it would be miserably muddy trying to hike to the Chimney Tops in the Smoky Mountains, which would have also forced us to go east and have a longer drive home. So we found a fairly new state park along the way and that turned out to be more interesting than expected too. Actually, it was an adventure just to get into the park because Google Maps trying to get us in on a road that had been closed, so we drove around until Google Maps finally gave in about us not turning around and pointed us toward the main entrance way.

We were deciding on what walking trail to take from the Enterprise South Nature Park map, which was more detailed with a legend than the one on their website, and not paying attention to the other markings. As we walked along the level 4 trail in dark blue called Hawk's Ridge, we came across a mound that was too cone shaped to be natural. At first I thought it might be an Indian mound, but it was not as rounded or flattened at the top as they usually are. We could see a road beyond the trees so the Princess walked around and saw the metal wall with a door: a bunker.

When we saw the sign, I immediately thought military, but my husband speculated it could have been a place to store explosives for a mining company...I did not see anything that suggested there was mining in the area though.

When we took a better look at the map we grabbed when we came into the park, there were actually 100 of these bunkers! Some had a visible vent at the top of the mound and some had barred windows in the steel doors which just allowed us to peer into a dark, empty cement room. I have since looked it up. In support of World War II, the Army Corps of Engineers built the Volunteer Army Ammunition Plant to manufacture TNT which was stored in these bunkers, an unexpected history lesson!

We had a nice lunch and drove the rest of the way home, arriving around 4:30. Our house sitter had left in the morning. She did great with the animals, but it seems she is not as much of a plant person, for while it rained and rained all around here for most of entire week, it obviously missed my little patch of the world that I call home and all my plants were in distress for lack of water, but most seem to be recovering now.

My Lord, thank you for providing a good time together and helping us to realize why Genesis is truly the beginning.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Vacation May 2016 - Part 1

Families are like fudge — mostly sweet with a few nuts.
~Author unknown

We had the first vacation we have had in many long years. We went to visit my aunt and uncle in Ohio, whom I have not seen since my mother's funeral in 2009. I cannot believe it has been seven years, but it has.

A reduction in income was the first major issue; the second was saving for the house new siding and windows when our income improved, and then refinancing. We still have much to do on the inside of the house, like painting and repairing walls around the windows, and the outside, like replacing all the deck boards that somehow sounds like less work than it is, and the in between, like reorganizing our garage so that we can use it for the car again since all the painting stuff is in the way now.

Yes, very much to do have we, but we have been trying to go to Ohio every year and every year something got in the way. To ensure we had even more incentive this year, we took advantage of the two for one ticket special at Christmas for the Creation Museum and bought three tickets to use within a year. Our original plan was to go on the third week of May and everything was set, but then our youth pastor, who would be house-sitting, realized that she made an error and had already promised that week to another, so we bumped up to the second week. We wanted to go before my husband had to go to the U.K. for training and while public school was still in session so it would be less crowded and we would not feel so rushed. Since my most excellent next door neighbor moved too far away, a good friend who would have happily have taken care of the furry ones and the plants, a house-sitter was really the best way to go as we have the rabbitry, two outside cats, and a German Shepherd dog, who has skin allergies, which gets more aggravated when she is excited; trips definitely excite her.

The one very good thing about my husband traveling so much for work is that he gets hotel points and he has lots of them built up over the years. Because another one of my cousins moved in a few years ago with my aunt and uncle and their son and his wife, they would have have the room but it would have been crowded even though they now only have one dog instead of three and we were leaving ours at home this time. We felt it would be better for everyone to stay at a hotel, which was at no cost to us.

We went to their church service to meet up with my aunt and uncle. There the Princess was able to sit at a piano to play her memorized pieces from the recital at the end of April for my aunt to hear in person. Then we went out for dinner, which was no small thing as it was Mother's Day but we only had to wait a few minutes. It was a family owned restaurant with a field landing strip next to it for small planes and there were three that day.

My aunt is having some memory issues, fairly minor for the most part, but evident. Losing her memories was the one thing that scared my aunt, having taken care of her aunt with Alzheimer's Disease, but while we were there at least, she seem to handle it more graciously than I had thought she might. We planned to visit for only two days as we did not want to tire everyone out and we had other things planned as well, but the weather was mostly rainy so that kind of changed the things we could do.

The Princess enjoyed looking at all the artwork my aunt has created over the years, seeing all the family photos and histories, and hearing all the stories of which they both many, but it is my uncle that can go on for hours and hours. When she was bored or just needed some space, she would draw. It was the only time I could get a picture of the child because she is in the face-hiding phase.

Since the Princess likes old cemeteries and it has always been a tradition with my grandfather to visit my grandmother's grave, the one thing I wanted to do was to go to the cemetery to see my mother's and brother's graves, next to each other as my mother wanted even though it did not start out that way, as well as my grandparents' and other family members. It was a chilly, drizzly day, but the Princess and I took a walk to the older parts before the Civil War because the older grave stones with the wear and tear of the years are far more interesting. Then my uncle, who does not have just one sweet tooth but many, suggested that we go across the river into the small town proper for ice cream for us and onion rings for his diabetic wife. The cousins continually thank God that he has not become diabetic as he has no self control when it comes to sweets.

On the third day, it was not raining as was expected so I suggested we visit a place that I had not been to but once as a teenager: German Village Historic District. My first time there was just after it was designated by National Register of Historic Places on December 30, 1974; it was one of my uncle's after-Sunday-services mystery outings—would it surprise you that he found the one and only ice cream place there? The restoration project expanded to a 233 acre footprint. In 2007, it was made a Preserve America Community by the White House. Today, it is the largest privately funded historic district on the National Register of Historic Places, but it is said that it is also the largest in the world.

Of course, we found a bookstore. The Book Loft has 32 rooms jammed packed with books and we lost each other several times! My husband found a cookbook he just had to have (the guy loves to cook) and the Princess found The Atlas of Cursed Places, which did not thrill me but I thought maybe she would get ideas for settings of the many fictional stories she writes. I looked for a hardcover of Atlas Shrugged to give to my cousin, but they only had a soft cover with very small text, so I did not get anything. After finding each other again, we decided to lunch at Katzinger's Delicatessen where my husband and I shared a very tasty Reuben. It started clouding up preparing to rain so we drove on in the rain to our next destination, Cincinnati.

Now, I really do not like being in cities, especially downtown. That is probably why my husband did not tell me that the hotel he picked was exactly where I would rather not be. However, I was not driving so at least I was not as anxious about driving in the city, particularly since our GPS stopped charging due to a bad wire and we were using Google Maps on my smart phone, nor was I concerned about parking, since there was complementary valet parking. This is the cityscape from our hotel window.

When I really began to inspect the architectural and ornamentation of the Cincinnati Enquirer Building, I softened up to the idea. Wow! This building originally was the headquarters of the local newspaper, but I felt as if we were walking into a restored grand theater. They just do not make buildings like this anymore! We were at the back of the hotel where we could see a neighboring building also was being restored.

Our suite was roomy and modern in decor, of course. However, the nicest part was that the hotel provided a complementary buffet breakfast and dinner. This is the kind of place at which we would typically not stay because it would be too costly as in three nights is a mortgage payment, but my husband's hotel points covered everything. My husband was very wise, because all we have to pay for in food was our lunches for three days, so I definitely warmed up to having to stay in downtown Cincinnati.

Thankfully, it stopped raining with sunshine in the forecast for the morning, at least!

My Lord, thank you for giving me the opportunity to spend some time with my aunt and uncle, my cousin and his wife, and another cousin as well.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Dangers Unseen

All of life is the exercise of risk. ~William Sloane Coffin

Half of my backyard is a part of a larger woods. When we first moved here, our wooded area was fairly cleared and I envisioned starting with a small shade garden with ferns, hardy cyclamen, hostas, dead nettle, purple shamrocks, lily of the valley, miniature bleeding hearts, and vinca so that is what I planted. I started with a simple island of three trees. I place stones to make a border all around it. Along one side I cleared a path with stones edging the woods on the other side. The path led to the back where I had leveled a spot for a bench. I also planted English ivy in the woods hoping it would carpet the wooded areas. I envisioned sitting on the bench barely able to see our my house let alone the rest of the neighborhood and communing with my Lord, petting a sleepy cat, and reading books with my young daughter in cool of the shade on hot summer days.

It was all going to be beautiful and serene...then came in reality. Mosquitoes made sitting back there on the bench quite a miserable experience except perhaps on the breeziest of days. Also, smack in the middle between the woods' edge that wrapped around my backyard where it had been flat began to sink. When our house was built, it is a common practice for builders to bury the wood they cleared, which in time rots away and creates a sink hole. Builders are no longer allowed to do this for obvious reasons, thankfully.

Not knowing how big the sink hole was going to become, I mostly left the woods alone. Some of my plants survived and some did not. Vinca jumped the rock border of the island and the English ivy took off towards the yard instead of filling the woods. Last spring I removed all the plants in the back shade garden and brought them to the front shade garden where they can be enjoyed and look lovely. I did this because another undesirable had taken residence in my woods: poison ivy.

I hate to use chemicals so the first time I saw some poison ivy, I pulled it out. Crazy as it may sound, you have to understand that I never had a reaction to poison ivy that was more than a very slight rash after lots of exposure. My aunt's horses used to eat it and I remember even locking my bike up on a tree that had it when I was camping thinking that no one would bother with my bike because of it. It has been that way with most of my family, including my maternal grandmother until one time and then she had a very bad reaction and nearly died. So, my aunt warned me to be careful anyway, because I could have a reaction later on in life...and I did. It was not until I moved to Georgia and was pulling out poison ivy that I had a reaction.

After that I was more careful, but for the last six summers I have suffered with poison ivy rashes—from a cat!

I get it from both the Mitten Kittens actually, but it is Little Miss Midnight that gives it to me the most. How do I know? Well, Midnight likes being held and when I pick her up, she immediately perches her head over my left shoulder. I am recovering from a poison ivy rash that covered my throat up to my jaw on the left side and a little rather itchy blister in the middle of my right palm with a smaller one on the side of one finger also on the right hand that holds her while she happily views the world as I walk with her. It would really be so nice if there was some warning that she has this invisible urushiol oil on her fur before I touch her. Of course, Midnight is innocently unaware that when she hunts in the woods that she ends up with urushiol oil on her fur. It does not a thing to her, even when she licks it off.

Sharii does not long tolerate being held, but he loves to wrap himself around legs purring so loudly that it sounds painful. I may have gotten mere touches of the volatile oil from him. My daughter thought they were bug bites but there were not many biting bugs out when I got them so I am thinking that they were not.

I have avoided poison ivy completely and burned it out when I see creeping out of the woods, but I just have not been diligent with killing it. Actually, since I alone was doing it, I kind of gave up. However, you cannot turn your back on poison ivy and wish it away. It has entrenched itself and, camouflaged by English ivy, it climbed trees unfettered. Sad really, because it is quite beautiful particularly in autumn and its hairy vines on the trees add interest in the winter.

Last year, I removed all the plants I wanted to keep from the backyard to wage a war on the poison ivy, even if it meant I would chemically burn out every plant in the woods area! I started by spraying every leaf of poison ivy I could see on the edge of the woods and when they died back I moved in deeper. The problem was another vine was draped from tree to tree so that making my way back carefully was not easy, but this spring before the poison ivy leaves were out, my husband and I cut down what we now know were native muscadine vines. My husband loves muscadine wine and preserves, but since I have not seen any grapes, I am assuming we only have a male vine.

Now I am able to get through our little woods to spray down all the ivy and let me tell you that it is far worse than I thought, but it is dying down. I go out about once a week looking for healthy leaves to spray. Yeah, I am that determined!

However, clearing my yard of the stuff will not cure my problem. Sharii has claimed our property as his territory and sticks around the house, but even so our cats do not stay in the boundaries of your yard, particularly Midnight. She is the smallest cat I have ever had, half the size and weight of Sharii, who tends to get rough. He will be wrapping himself around your legs for a few minutes before he decides it is time to grab and bite them. Although I see them sleep near each other in the afternoon and tag team a mouse hunt, Midnight generally does not like Sharii's rough ways and usually takes off for neighboring areas for most of the day, unless I am outside working so I can protect her.

That being said, Midnight often goes toward the neighbor's yard and to the corner lot they own that was never cleared. The woods there is a great place to hide and hunt...and it is drenched in poison ivy! There is no escaping the cats bringing it to me. Every time I spend a few minutes with them, I have to carefully change my clothes and wash off with Fels Naptha soap. Not fun!

After this bout with the poison ivy, I am just as determined to desensitize to it as I am to burn it out of my yard. I found a homeopathic remedy that is a very low potency, 4x, that I will be taking every day until the poison ivy dies. It is said that Indians did not get poison ivy because they ate it. Well, I am not that brave, but I have had wonderful results with homeopathics so this is worth a try. Besides, how can I resist cuddling with little Midnight!

My Lord, may this remedy work so that I can stop trying to avoid my cats.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Purple Cockroach Story

Violet will be a good color for hair at just about the same time that brunette becomes a good color for flowers. ~Fran Lebowitz

Somewhere hiding around my house is a purple cockroach.

You think I am kidding, don't you? I so wish I was.

This is one of those stories that I was told, by the perpetrator, would be funny ten years from now, but there was some question earlier that she would live long enough to see that day.  

Yes, the perpetrator was my very own Princess.

My story begins with me preparing for bedtime in my bathroom and hearing a scrubbing noise on the wall adjacent to my daughter's bathroom. I walked around to knock on her bathroom door to ask what she was doing: "Cleaning."

Now I knew something was up because I have to go from reminding to begging to threatening her liberty for 20 years before she will clean her bathroom, and it is never done at night. However, I was having some back pain, so not too in the mood to investigate, and I remembered that she had not done it on Saturday as she is supposed to do.

Yeah, I tend to be hopelessly idealistic at times, especially when I am not up to dealing with reality.

Back in my bathroom resuming the nightly routine, I again hear the scrubbing, only worse. I walk back around and again knock.

"What are you doing? It sounds like you are trying to scratch through the wall?"

"I'm not." (I did notice the lack of volunteering more information.)

"Uh-huh. Open the door now!"

On the wall behind the door is a purple spot about two inches in diameter. I am immediately upset.

Now, to understand what is going on in my mind, you have to remember that because we had the windows replaced last summer that every single room in my house with an exterior wall needed to be touched up at the very least to the entire room painted and I have only one room done and another partially done, because life threw us some curves so progress has been slow. Besides the hallway, my daughter's bathroom—the guest bathroom, actually—is the only room (quite literally, the ONLY room) in my house that does not have a window (other than one of the basement rooms, which has the wallpaper peeling off and needs painted as well).

Also, there is a sentimental value to my guest bathroom. Before the Princess was born, my mother came for a visit and this was the room I finished especially for that occasion with a hand stenciled border of magnolias that I liked but also knew that my mother would like. Although my mother acted like it was nothing to her when she saw it (and that was typical of our relationship), I still remember the efforts I made fondly.

All this went through my mind in just a quick moment.... Then came the next moment.

Why was there a purple spot on the wall?
I turned to look around and found all the cans of colored hair spray we gave our daughter for Christmas. My daughter quickly explained that she was going to tell me once she cleaned it up.

Okay, but.... Why was there a purple spot on the wall?

Apparently, she saw a cockroach too high for her to kill herself, so instead of calling her father, who was actually home that night, or me, she decided to kill it with hairspray—colored hair spray. She said it was kind of a joke and that hair spray would come off with water...but then it did not.

I just looked at her thinking how, in just a little more than a month, this girl will be fifteen years old...not under ten, when I would have expected this kind of naivety, but fifteen? Of course, I am beyond talking to her at this stage, because I am livid; I am yelling at her that the color of the hair spray is made to wash out when it is on hair as it is meant to be used and about how it must have escaped her when she took science classes that putting one chemical formula onto another can have unexpected results like adhesion or bleed through as dyes can do, all while grabbing cleaning supplies hoping that I will find something that will not damage the paint, yet remove the purple spot.

Yes, I did say all that in just one breath...and more too!

My husband had come up from his desk in the basement to see what I was raging about and used the calm approach to talk to the perpetrator while I finally made some progress with the purple spot. She came to apologize, a genuine apology. I looked at her sweet face with her heartbreaking, pleading eyes and said that I was very appreciative that she want to do the right thing, but I was far too angry to receive it at the moment. That is when my husband tried that same calm and gentle approach on me...and you would think the man should know better after the first two decades that we have been married.

"Have you never done something that you tried to hide and fix it before your parents found out?"

I honestly was too angry to think of anything right then because I was not living with my parents most of my teenage years, but I do know this one thing: I never graffitied walls!

Later, after the purple spot was eliminated and the paint on the wall did not seemed to be damaged by the third chemical formula I had to use to remove it, I accepted the Princess' apology...and I allowed her to retrieve all cans of the colored hair spray that I had thrown into the trash as I complained loudly to my husband that she never allows me to use them in her hair after begging for them, yet she will use them on things she should not, like to graffiti a wall!

The perpetrator has been pardoned and I am laughing about this now nine years, eleven months, and thirty days earlier than predicted. 

In a much calmer state, I began to think over the scene. The Princess did not just grab the first color but specifically looked for the purple one. A day or two before she wanted me to give her an idea or even just a word to challenge her in starting a new fictional story and I came up with something I thought would be fun and challenging off the top of my head: purple kitty.

I really have to be more careful of my suggestions with a child having such a creative mind, but who would have ever thought...well, other than her, that is?

After all was said and done, my Princess was giving me my goodnight kiss and it was then that it hit me....

Where was the purple cockroach?

She said it escaped down the vent.

My Lord, may the purple cockroach rest in peace...if not yet, then very soon.