Within a few
days, the summer season will officially end. We had some stretches of hot and humid weather, but overall southeastern
Pennsylvania escaped the normal August doldrums this year. We were treated instead to some nice respites
of warm and dry weather, which enabled us to shut down the central air for days
on end. I’m getting into the spirit of
celebrating the end of our growing season with an annoying health condition.
“Au revoir, summer” like a bout of poison ivy!
story: our property currently has some serious landscaping issues. Bushes and shrubs have overgrown their
initial territory, which is not as noticeable when you consider the vines
growing everywhere and choking the life out of the bushes and shrubs. The weeds have dominated the side garden for
more years than I care to count. A black
walnut in the middle of this yard was once cooperatively short and unobtrusive. It has decided to grow to a height of 20
plus feet and now obstructs our lovely view of the street. Also, in the same vicinity, another bush has
totally grown over our side window. This affords shelter to the local fowl life and also gives them a place
to be watched and studied by our two cats, Meredith and Nyla.
turns out that our two felines are amateur ornitho… ornitholos…bird watchers!
various other areas of garden and overgrowth on our property, mostly behind the
garage. Another corner of our house is overgrown with ivy, such as you might find on the campus of any major
university you would care to name. At my
alma mater, Bloomsburg University, I had history classes in a building with the
obsolete name Old Science, which I swear was three quarters ivy and one quarter
brick and mortar. In my house’s case, the
ivy is wreaking havoc on our stucco finish. It’s lovely to look at and makes me nostalgic for academia, but it’s got
My gardening efforts in the last few years
have been limited by my health (the end of next week will be five years since
my bypass) and the humid weather conditions. Many seasons, I could barely manage to perform the weekly or bi-weekly
grass mowing and trimming. In the
meantime, the natural foliage flourished. Example: maples growing to a nice height from within a mountain laurel
bush, and by a nice height I mean that they are now taller than the laurel
is in order, and Anne Marie took charge of getting estimates from
landscapers. Historically, we have had a
few unpleasant experiences with landscapers. We call them with a business opportunity, leave messages for a call back,
and never hear from them again. This
year, Anne Marie lucked out and got three landscapers to come out and give us
estimates. One of them is a family run
business that coincidentally owns most of the land behind my property. Also, the matriarch of the family with the
business lives down the street. And yes,
if you have to ask, her yard is immaculate!
The bids all
came within our credit card limit, but it would send our monthly payments to a
currently unmanageable level. In the
meantime, the series of nice dry days got my ambition in gear and the last few
weekends I’ve made some progress in reclaiming our land. I’ve managed to clear out the side yard for
the year and chop down (manually) several thin trees in the garage area. This is where I encountered my old nemesis –
I saw it and
tried my best to avoid it. I wore
gloves, but my best precautions were not enough. The bitches were lying in wait for me!
that all it took was a boost up when a thick non-ivy vine snapped back at me
and the ivy brushed my arm. I had worked
up a sweat, which for some reason makes me itchy. The satisfying of my itch spread the poison
to my other arm, my forehead, my face, and yes, around the eyes. The next day, my eyes were swelled up and
advantage of my late day schedule on Tuesday and visited the latest trend in
healthcare: the urgent care center. It
is that step between visiting your primary care physician and the emergency
room of the hospital. There are several
drawbacks in my case for these two extremes.
appreciate my primary care physician’s cautious attitude whenever I tell him I
have a pain on the left side of my body, as in most recently when I called for
an appointment for my jaw pain. I
suspected sinusitis or an abscessed tooth; he suspected something much worse
and urged me to go to the emergency room, where presumably I would have a stress
test. Several problems: if I thought I
was actually having a heart attack, I would not bother calling him at all. I would make a beeline for the emergency
room. Second problem: waiting times in
emergency rooms are long, unpleasant experiences. Third, I have a high deductible health
plan, which means huge testing and facility bills which will come back on moi.
paying off on a stress test from 2011, and my doctor wants me to go into deeper
debt, which will only cause more stress? I don’t think so!
care center, Patient First, was more than happy to treat me that day and this
week. I now have a twelve day course of
steroids, which are nothing like the great stuff we had in the 1970’s. Back then, before medical science realized
the danger of steroids, the drugs prescribed by your kindly local physician
would clear up the poison ivy in three days. My doctor was formerly a surgeon
for the Blue Angels squadron. He would
not eff around and gave me serious drugs!
Those around you might not know that you were
on medication if it weren’t for the uncontrollable bouts of giggling during
those three days. However, the fourth
day – after your medication course was gone — was a bitch! Too tired to get out of bed, but not tired
enough to get any rest, you just lay in bed for a full day and stared at the
Linda Ronstadt posters on your wall.
Don’t get me
wrong! Linda looked great back then, but these were after all just photos on
paper, and not the flesh and blood embodiment of Linda herself. Yes, kids,
drugs in the 1970’s were fabulous! Sorry you missed it! If you don’t
believe me, ask your parents or grandparents and they will lie to you and say,
“I don’t know what you’re talking about!”
So now I am
recovering, and we’re putting the big landscaping plans on hold. This will give
me time to clear out a bit more before the landscapers are called in for their
emergency work. I think I’ll let them
tackle the black walnut and the ivy, but everything else might be within my
I just need
to get my ambition again. The weekend
approaches and the weeds await my return.
for reading. Really kids, wonderful
drugs in the 70’s, which explains why parents and grandparents are effed up