indian summer

This time of year is beautiful. My mother always called it indian summer. Despite my perpetual questions when I was little, her beatific manner as she answered me made it seem all the more serene, mystic almost. It’s not a common phrase I learned, but people who use it make it seem lovely.

Sassafras leaves

Where I live on the North Carolina coast doesn’t have as well-defined seasons as the mountains. The few maples we have will turn but much later when it begins to get so cold the leaves just fall. So we don’t enjoy the spectacular, dramatic reds, yellows, oranges of the trees that blanket the mountains and foothills. And we have many evergreen trees, not just palms, pines, cedars and magnolia but many oaks that stay green — live oak, blackjack, willow and water oaks. So unless we  have an ice storm, or snow things stay pretty awake through the winter. Their dormancy is not apparent.

Highbush blueberry

It does get cooler here but not consistently. The thing that we do have that other places have is fall pollen. Especially ragweed. Unlike spring pollens this season’s pollen -for me- is almost debilitating. And deceptive. It can seem like a serious cold or even a flu, complete with fever and cough. When I was little it was bad enough to need allergy shots. But only for here. I have lived in New Jersey, South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida and New Mexico. No allergy problems any of those places. And the weird thing, whenever they give those dreadful allergy ‘scratch’ tests where you have a thousand punctures and they cover you with allergens, for me nothing ever shows up. No allergies.

Rescue dogs Lily and Lulu enjoying a sunny autumn afternoon

So every fall I stock up on tissues and antihistamines (thankful both are on store shelves again) and make the best of it. Like with everything some days are better, some days I keep the eyedrops nearby, and always the herbal teas. I swear by these. My sister-in-law thinks they are for sissies and I used to think they were a little too new age-y until I tried a couple. Maybe it’s the hot temperature. Maybe it’s the added honey. Whatever it is, it helps the symptoms.

Bracken fern

My brother had allergies. One year they were especially bad. He doesn’t have the patience with things like this. He did whatever he had to to get rid of the congestion. And whatever he did worked. Not for me. Mine just lasted longer. And my brother had a mortal fear of any sort of injection.

I don’t know what this is. I thought it was pretty.

So these bodies we have. We adapt, change, age, accommodate and take care of it the best we can. It has to last a while.

silent

I honestly have never been at a loss for words. As a child my father called me a chatterbox. I could chat anybody up on almost anything once I got an idea of their interests.

But this strange restriction has got me. I have realized I am fed up with it and am trying to quietly wait it out. I’m at a point where I am certain a doctor will have a universal solution and we will all be free of this.

Freedom is not just movement, but a state of mind. You can have all the money you could ever imagine, access to any form of travel, homes in many countries and still be bound in some way.

9539C9BB-D677-41AD-B8B6-87C1648C98E9

I hear over and over of Christian or prisoners of other faiths, wrongfully imprisoned yet their hearts and minds are unbound by the cell that has become their world. They sing, they accept with joy even the vile or menial tasks they are given and do their very best at it.

This virus is very odd. There seems to be more to it and we are fighting psychological as well as social and emotional bondage from it. I for one am beginning to tire of the same doctors who have been directing us these past several months. But when new doctors begin to tell us of therapies that have proven successful in treating this malady, that could give us immunity and therefore freedom, they are quickly silenced.

Why?

I may never know the answer. I do know that God knows the number of our days. This relieves considerable stress. I no longer worry irrationally about masks or hand sanitizer. I do what I am legally directed, follow sensible advice and leave the rest.

Rescue dogs Lily and Lulu have experienced little change in their routines. We have never been banned from parks so as long as the weather has warranted we go for walks. The summer has begun to be summer hot so we are limited in time of day, but they are older now and do not mind the extra long afternoon nap times.

The beach inn where my family and I vacationed every summer cancelled all existing reservations, then opened to new reservations. This made no sense, since many simply made new reservations. We did not, nor did anyone who shared the inn with us for ‘our’ week.

27C626CE-CA89-491F-99A9-63DF8C77ED88

So since I did not get to visit my family last year for any holiday at all it’s been a year since I have seen them. Call me foolish but I’m driving to east Texas from coastal NC next week. Packing masks, hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes.

Unless this Isaias storm has other ideas.

(why couldn’t it just be called Isaiah?)

Exercise

My Dad lived to be 95 years old. Growing up in Colorado he was pretty active. Horses, ice hockey, mountain climbing. He’d had an accident when he was about 16 with a bad fall from a mountain. He lay at the foot of this mountain for about a day until his father came looking for him. His doctor there told him it was just badly bruised, prescribed bed rest but when nothing got better his father took him to Mayo Clinic. They found a smashed hip which they replaced, yet Dad for the rest of his life walked with a slight limp.

So when he was 93 or so he became what some call infirm, but he never got old. His doctor sketched out several exercises to keep him ambulatory, more or less active.

He almost never did these.

I would take him to his check ups. Doctor would ask if he was doing his exercises. “Oh, my yes,” he’d say. I, sitting behind him where doctor could imperceptibly look at me, would be frantically shaking my head, “no”. So his doctor who was quite fond of Dad, most everyone was, would ratchet up his insistence, in a gentle way, and Dad would agree whole-heartedly. But just like drinking his 6-8 glasses of water, it was whatever he chose to do.

He lived on his own terms, good or bad.

So when I had my 60th birthday a year ago I decided 20 years of running most mornings was enough and gave myself permission to stop. Maybe husky-mix rescue dog Lily was relieved, she seemed to enjoy our 3-4 mile-a-day runs. I decided to be kind to my knees. They’d served me well for so long, why risk pressing my luck?

So now Lily and terrier-mix rescue dog Lulu and I walk at a nature preserve here nearly everyday where they can go off-leash and it is a pleasant hour or so walk through 2-plus miles of mostly shaded trails. But sometimes I wonder if it is enough.

In warmer months I also ride my bike 5-10 miles a day but recently I have (in the occasional times I actually watch any television at all) noticed a commercial for a new stationary bike. One that simulates mountain biking (which I have never done), beach biking, and cycling in general. This ad is really tempting. A svelte young woman (who later turns out to actually even be a mom when her husband and child appear as she gently blots glistening dots of perspiration from her brow) in a picturesque glass-enclosed exercise room pumps away on this bike, listening to the digital “coach” encourage her up the grueling digital hills. This thing looks and seems so wonderful, I can almost see muscles forming at her calves, watch her arms as they white-knuckle the handle bars flex as she vigorously pumps.

Yes, I think, I should have something like this.

Never mind that the cost is in the thousands. Or that my day does not have the flexibility to venture forth on these precipitous digital rides. Where would I put this thing? Marketing is clever. We watch these commercials, forgetting we do not have a house like this with a glass-walled 200-square-foot room in which to house the bike. I’d have to build on an addition to my house. Then I’d need to tangle with my HOA and I make it a point never to interact with my HOA. Besides which I do not have any extra space where I could add on anything, certainly not an exercise room.

So I guess it’s huffing along the local rural roads outside my subdivision, and enjoying the sun-dappled walks in the nature preserve.

I’ll take that.

imgres.jpg

Vaccine drama

Be forewarned: I highly favor giving vaccinations to children.

So when I was 3 or 4 (I actually remember this because it was a house my family shared and it only had one bathroom) I had German measles. I remember lying on the living room sofa under a blanket while my mother spoke in a hushed voice with the doctor, then being whisked up in her arms. Next thing I recall is waking to the soft-spoken prayers of our Presbyterian church minister, Dr. James Fogartie.

I suppose I must have survived the ordeal well, even though following the high fever accompanying the measles I had a bout with encephalitis, something many young ones do not survive, or survive badly with some brain damage (pause for the “ok, that explains a lot” comments).

Anyway, I must not have had the mumps vaccine either (if it even was available??) because I also had those, on one “side”. So I am a tremendous advocate for vaccinating children.

It is how pertussis (which I also had), polio, a very crippling disease, diphtheria and now measles/rubella and mumps have been largely eradicated. And there is now I understand a chickenpox vaccine.

Apparently many parents believe these vaccines, or combinations thereof, will harm, even kill a child. Well, they did not seem to harm us and it is because we were vaccinated that these diseases are largely avoided. Except now people are refusing to vaccinate their children so they will come back, trust me. You can subvert or subdue a germ or virus but it (or its mutations) is almost unkillable. There are isolated instances where a child (perhaps coincidentally) did die after receiving one or some vaccinations. I am not a doctor. I do not know whether there were other factors or complications. I do know I did have my son vaccinated with everything they had, even the hepatitis ones when he went on a mission trip to Mexico. Good thing I did, too because he dropped the sharp point of a heavy shovel on his big toe and injured it rather badly. But he did survive, with new toenail.

Even now aging folks such as myself have the options of pneumonia and shingles vaccines. So at the recommendation of my doctor I have had them. And survived.

I am all for doing anything I can to keep any form of germ, virus or microbe out of the stream of life if at all possible. Maybe some think it unnecessary to live beyond the age of 35, but at my age I am so grateful for the years beyond that age I have been gifted.

Not afraid of the alternative but do not want to rush or encourage it either.

Imaginings

When we are younger, most of us have wild imaginations. If we are fortunate enough to have parents who understand this and care about us, then those alligators under the bed or monsters in the closet are obliterated by the tenderness and assurance of our parents’ protections. If we do not have this… well that’s another blog.

Then we get older. We still have our imaginations (we hope) and, consequently it can run wild to the good or to the frightening. For some reason last night (why does it always happen at night??) mine ran to the fearful. For a time there was utterly not one thing I could do to rein it in. Nothing. It ran like a wildfire, rampant from bad to worse to the unimaginable. When I realized I had no control over this I recited Galations 5:22– “The works of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control.” I was hoping (* praying *) for the last particular fruit.

Now, I am a person who, though I have an unrelenting sweet-tooth, has really begun in the last several years to work hard at eating a healthy and well-balanced diet. I don’t eat fast foods. Ever (well, unless the peach milkshakes are in season at Chick-fil-a, but that was 2 years ago!!). No McDonalds, No Wendy’s No Taco Bell, No Hardee’s (or whatever it calls itself now). Except I do have a friend who likes to meet occasionally to catch up on all our gossip at a Wendy’s or Jersey Mike’s. But it’s not a regular part of my routine I guess I am saying. But I do eat a lot of fruits- I love summers when peaches, plums and pears are in season. And berries- blueberries which I used to really not like, or blackberries, even though you can buy these frozen now too. And I have learned that Brussells sprouts and eggplants are pretty good, if you roast them with a lot of onions, olive oil and garlic. So I am trying to feed my body with healthier foods.

My mind and my spirit can’t be neglected either, is I guess what my imagination was doing yesterday. Reminding me. When my thoughts seem to take on a life of their own, I need to take them “captive to make (it) obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:5)

I will sleep better.