A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Summer’s End

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.

Nothing says “Au revoir, summer” like a bout of poison ivy!

The back 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.

Yes, it turns out that our two felines are amateur ornitho… ornitholos…bird watchers!

We have 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 to go.

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 bush.

A makeover 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 – poison ivy/oak.

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!

I believe 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 uncomfortably itchy.

I took 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.

I can 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.

I’m still 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!

The urgent 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 ability.

I just need to get my ambition again. The weekend approaches and the weeds await my return.

(Thank you for reading. Really kids, wonderful drugs in the 70’s, which explains why parents and grandparents are effed up now!)


Anonymous Janey said...

*sigh* ...the drugs of the '70's really were fabulous, weren't they... :-)


September 19, 2013 at 7:40 PM  
Blogger todd gunther said...

Thank you Janey! Mind you that outside of my poison ivy/steroid episodes, a few chance encounters with pot and poppers(stop snickering)and once a line of coke, I can honestly say that most of my impressions of drug use are due to things my friends have told me. Alas, orange fun fur foot stool where art thou?

September 21, 2013 at 5:07 PM  

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