I am Done With Winter. It keeps promising to leave, and even pretends to go for a few days at a time, but like a deadbeat houseguest it just keeps slinking back in and raiding the fridge long after it has worn out its welcome.
My asparagus patch keeps sprouting and then freezing and then resprouting and then freezing again. The enormous pile of cordwood I stacked last fall is almost gone: soon I’ll be burning the twiggy orchard prunings for heat. Buds are swelling optimistically on my plum and apricot trees, but if they open now while the bees are still huddled forlornly in their sheltering hives and the wintry air is empty of insect life, the blooms will go unpollinated and the trees won’t bear fruit this summer. Arctic winds are rattling my windows today and seeping into my not-especially-weathertight house, creating chilly drafts and unwarmable corners.
Earlier this week I got clobbered by that bug that’s going around. Luckily I got the Express version: from sore throat, fever, sinuses in full attack-and-revolt mode and energy levels somewhere around “Roadkill,” to coughing-my-lungs-up-but-otherwise-feeling-fine-again in only four days. In better weather my next phase of recovery would be lying out in the warm sunshine and letting the last of the crud bake out of me, but alas, this time it it clearly not to be.
Punxsutawney Phil, your six weeks are almost up. It is time for balmy blue-skied mornings and bees buzzing contentedly around fragrant sunwarmed blossoms. It’s time for fresh young seedlings in their warm garden beds and the translucent green shimmer of new leaves on the trees and the scent of early honeysuckle drifting through my open bedroom windows.
Next week would be good. This week would be better. How about tomorrow, would tomorrow work? A little warmth, less wind, no more frosts…these do not seem like unreasonable requests.
I’m begging you, Winter, move on. Go crash on Australia’s couch. It’s Spring’s turn.
About four years ago my health took a sudden, inexplicable turn for the worse. I went from vibrantly healthy to experiencing a baffling array of symptoms: a bitter, metallic taste in my mouth, a yellow/orange hue to my skin, coated tongue, nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, tooth cavities, a sore on my cheek that wouldn’t heal, urinary tract issues and a general feeling of malaise. I even developed a mild heart murmur — and lost a half-inch of height! (I had them measure me three times, but there was no mistake: I was five-foot-two-and-a-half instead of the five-three I’d been my whole adult life.) My doctor tested my blood for heavy-metal contamination (negative), put me on a round of Cipro for the urinary tract infection, removed/biopsied the skin lesion (benign) and suggested that I look into ways of reducing my stress levels.
“Stress levels?” I responded in honest confusion. “My life isn’t stressful at all! I love my life!”
Anyway, then summer came and we had wondrous fruit crops on every tree and vine that year and I was happily occupied with building a new addition onto our house, and the healthy mostly-fruit diet, the fulfilling, productive work and/or the Cipro worked their magic on my health and I felt great again. Somehow I even recovered that lost half-inch of height, which was a huge relief because it’s not like I have a lot of inches to spare anyway.
But the next winter most of the symptoms returned.
It never occurred to me that Steve might be reinfecting me with something; at the time I had no clue about all his extracurricular activities. Because of the seasonal timing I decided that there must be a connection between my health and my crappy wintertime dietary habits. I resolved to start freezing more summer produce for the winter and to cut back on the Thanksgiving-Christmas-Valentine’s-Easter junk food binges. The following spring I planted more varieties of healthy stuff and really focused on eating well. The symptoms faded, but never completely disappeared again.
And then a year and a half ago my marriage ended, and little by little I found out stuff about Steve’s double life that changed everything about the way I looked at everything. I scurried back to my doctor and told him that I needed to be tested for every STD in the book: AIDS, hepatitis, syphilis, the works. The lab took about a gallon of my blood and a few days later returned the verdict: all negative. No trace of any diseases. Other than showing signs of long-term high stress levels my body appeared to be more or less fine.
This past year the symptoms have faded to barely-noticeable, but that metallic taste never completely went away. And then the custody issue came up, and that was Stressful in a way that nothing else has ever been for me, and all of my symptoms came back in a big overwhelming rush. I was sure I was dying of liver failure or kidney failure or extreme systemwide acidosis or SOMEthing. I made an appointment with my doctor for another exam, and meanwhile I did a bunch of online research into liver treatments and kidney treatments and pH-imbalance treatments, and the natural-remedy-type websites I visited all said basically the same thing: eat lots of raw garlic. Apparently fresh raw garlic is a powerful natural antibiotic, antiviral, antifungal, pH-balancing wonder.
I have tons of surplus garlic in my garden this year, but eating it raw is easier said than done. It sets my head on fire. I tried a few different methods for choking it down and finally decided that the simplest way is to run a couple of cloves through a garlic press into a tablespoon, then fill the tablespoon the rest of the way with a strong-flavored oil like extra-virgin olive oil or unfiltered sesame oil. That coats the garlic enough that you can swallow it all in one gulp. I have to be careful though — this method lets me take larger doses, but if I take too much at once my stomach threatens to send it right back up.
But here’s the thing: within a week of beginning the daily garlic doses all my symptoms started to disappear.
A few days into the garlic treatment I was accosted by a fellow in my favorite health-food store who was selling very small, very expensive bottles of something called Cell Power, that’s supposed to balance body pH levels and cure, like, everything. I never buy stuff like that, but this time I did, and added it to my daily routine. And I don’t know it it was the garlic or the Cell Power or both, but within a few more days I was feeling better than I had in years. Beneath my tan the underlying hue of my skin went from dark yellow to lighter pink, and the texture of it was smoother and healthier than it had been in a long time. My energy returned, and for the first time in years the metallic taste went away for hours at a time. I’m confident that it will be gone completely within another week or two.
By the time I went to my doctor’s appointment on Thursday I’d been taking the garlic for almost two weeks and the Cell Power for almost one, and I felt like the Bionic Woman. I felt a little silly explaining that I’d felt like I was on the brink of death when I’d made the appointment, but now felt absolutely wonderful.
They gave me the usual battery of routine health checks, and the results were textbook ideal. Perfect blood pressure, perfect cholesterol levels, perfect blood sugar levels, perfectly clear lungs, perfectly clean urine sample, and absolutely no trace of any heart murmur.
I am now officially a fan of raw garlic. And also Cell Power, I think. I plan to keep taking the Cell Power for the next three or four months to make sure it has a solid chance to fix everything that it can fix, and I’ll be keeping my garden generously and permanently stocked with garlic.
This is seriously good medicine, folks. I am a believer.
I know, I’ve abandoned my poor blog again. Life is simultaneously busy and tranquil — my favorite combination! — and I haven’t felt the need to write in a while.
This time of year gardening takes up most of my time. One of the biggest reasons I’m shifting my focus to edible perennials is so I won’t have this frenzy of replanting every spring, but of course in the short-term it makes my spring even busier as I create new permanent beds and put in asparagus, sunchokes, currants, a bay tree, various perennial herbs and some unidentified “berry” bramble suckers someone gave me that I think are blackberries. But the strawberry bed I put in last spring is producing in grand style this year, and Saturday I enjoyed the first ripe strawberry of spring, and there’s a gazillion more coming along behind it. So that’s a good reminder that the results are totally worth all the work involved, even if it takes a while to see them.
Another thing that’s been gobbling up a ridiculous amount of my time is The Battle Of The Creeping Spot.
So three or four weeks ago our cats suddenly decided to spurn their litter box in favor of one corner of my computer room floor. We’re talking deep plush carpeting here, not some easy-to-clean laminate or hardwood. I ungraciously disposed of the piles of poop, but it gradually became evident that the real problem was the steadily-intensifying aroma of Eau de Cat Pee. I took way longer than I should have to attend to that (see: spring planting time, above), but finally one day I attacked that corner of the carpet with everything I could think to throw at it. Rug shampoo, spot cleaner, pure baking soda, a special “pet stain” removal product, the works.
The next morning that corner of my (very orange) carpet had turned a dark purple.
Clearly something had gone very wrong here.
I went back over the corner with more spot cleaner, and when that didn’t get rid of it I tried putting laundry detergent into my rug shampooer, and then I tried diluted dishsoap and then I just went over and over it with plain water until it was mostly gone.
But the next day The Spot was back, and twice its previous size.
I won’t go into all the tedious details of this battle. Suffice it to say that for nearly two weeks I used almost every cleaning product I could think of on this spreading purple abomination, alone or in combinations, and some days I would win and other days the Spot would win. It was like something out of Dr. Seuss, but evil. At its largest it was about six feet in diameter, and I was doing a pretty convincing Lady Macbeth impersonation.
Guess what the culprit was. Go ahead, guess!
Give up? It was the baking soda. Apparently when you put baking soda on my orange carpet and then get it wet, there’s some sort of freak chemical reaction that causes a dark purple stain to appear.
Guess how I finally figured this out.
It looked like I had just about defeated The Spot, there was only the faintest shadow left and I was confident that another hour or so of going over it with clear water would finish it off. But by then the carpet was beginning to smell just a bit mildewy, and I decided that the whole room could stand a nice deodorizing.
So, I filled my rug shampooer’s receptacle with clear water and a little baking soda, went over the whole room, and then focused on the spot in the corner — shaking some more baking soda directly onto it and scrubbing it in — until it appeared to be vanquished.
The next morning my entire computer room carpet was covered with purple smudges and the original corner was a solid, hateful dark purple swath.
I was ready to burn it.
Instead I spent most of another week going over and over the carpet, sucking all the baking soda out of it. As I type this I think I have just gotten the last of it out, but I won’t know for sure until tomorrow morning.
The good news is that the cats appear to have lost interest in recontaminating the war zone.
Or possibly they’re just waiting for the carpet to finally dry out so they can start over.
BUT my computer room doesn’t smell mildewy today, it smells WONDERFUL, because yesterday Luke and Elizabeth gave me the best Mother’s Day gifts I have ever received. They made them in Sunday school. They are apples with lots and lots of cloves stuck into them and silk ribbons tied around them to hang them with, and now as I write this the air is perfumed with the heady scent of apples and cloves. I LOVE it!
In other news, a third calf has been born at Trinity. I need to buy some livestock panels so I can set the branding pen back up and set a date for my summer roundup. I may also spring for a calf table, since none of my new friends know how to rope (and neither do I) and it seems like a useful thing to have anyway if one isn’t of the Large Strapping Male persuasion.
Speaking of things my new friends don’t know, they are also all tragically unacquainted with the awesome thing of immortal beauty that is Star Trek. Not a single Trek fan in the entire bunch (except for Pastor Bill who can’t go see the new movie with me because he’s married and that would be a little odd). Hello, this is CULTURE, people!! I was going to have to go see the movie all by myself, but my friend Jenny took pity on me and agreed to go with. So I think that’ll be Thursday. I can’t wait!
Being a part of my church worship group remains one of the brightest joys of my new life. It’s amazing how fundamental singing with friends apparently is to my general sense of fulfillment. I don’t imagine that I’ll let anyone take that away from me ever again.
The group is still kind of finding itself. We had a magical combination for a while — two guitars, bass, drummer, three vocalists — and it was heaven. But then we lost our best guitarist and our male vocalist within a couple weeks of each other, and we’re feeling the loss. But there’s this nice sense of fellowship among the rest of us, a sweet sort of feeling that we’re all in it for the long haul and that one way or another the people we need will find us and the group will eventually be complete again, and meanwhile we still have this wonderful core group of friends to sing and play and worship with.
Tell you what though, last time we sang in church it was a train wreck. There’s a young boy who is learning to play the bongos, and from time to time he likes to join the group onstage. It’s not been a problem before, but this last time two things went wrong. One, the bongos had just been tightened so they were louder than usual, and two, he set them up between the drummer and our remaining guitarist, so they couldn’t hear each other well enough to stay in synch. It…wasn’t pretty. We have learned our lesson. Bongo Boy is still welcome to play with us, but from now on he goes down at the other end by the vocalists.
I wanted to talk about how the Sunday school teaching thing is going, but I think that’s going to get its own post somewhere down the road.
So I guess that’s it for now. Life in my little green corner of the world is blooming, and keeping me busy. If that Spot is still gone tomorrow morning I will have nothing much to complain about.
If it’s back I may have to rethink my decision to give up profanity, because I have nothing else left to throw at the blasted thing.