Deadly Beauty

I have been trying to get some walking done to improve my energy level, reduce my pain level and combat anxiety. I blame everything on hormones! We discovered one of mine is almost zero, so I started taking it by pill.

I was introduced to a new therapy. New to me. Dry needling. It is done by a physical therapist and my insurance covers it. Like acupuncture, in a way, I guess. I have only seen that procedure on television. Dry needling uses very fine needles to penetrate the muscles and disrupt them. It is supposed to promote new muscle cell growth to help with the realignment therapy.

Yes. It hurts. But, I am willing to deal with the pain of the procedure if it will relieve the daily pain in my hip and back and improve my mobility. I have tiny girls to play with. Granny needs to be able to do everything with them.

What does that have to do with the picture and the title of this post? I was bitten on my left foot by a copperhead on my 15th birthday. The snake only had one fang. It was dark and the ground was heavily littered with sycamore leaves. I was outside barefoot. I walked out into the yard and back on the same path. I must have stepped on him going out and he was after me when I came back. Daddy found him the next morning and killed him, thereby discovering the single fang. We had supposed it was a scorpion sting up to that point.

The bite itself felt like an electric shock running from the side of my foot up my entire leg. I swelled up from mid thigh down and laid up in the bed to recover with no after effects other than the swelling. The dry needling has moments of similar electric shocks when a nerve or severely tense muscle is hit. So, yes, I am having “snake bite therapy” to help get better!!

I can’t even imagine the pain the beauty in the photo would cause likely culminating in death. He was wary and still until I was past him and he felt clear to move out of the way. The next day he was crossing back over the road going the other way. Still wary and watchful. More cautious of me than I was of him.

Most people want to kill them on sight. But, I was on his porch. He wasn’t on mine. He is a special part of a healthy ecosystem. I respect them. I fear the consequences of a bad encounter. But, I don’t want to kill them needlessly.

Strangely, I felt privileged to be afforded a second look at him the next day. The road is wide and flat and clear and he is brightly marked and large. Easy to see. I stay in the middle anyway, just in case he or a cousin is near the edge. I walked wide around and he patiently waited for me to clear his path.

More Clutter-busting

I worry about what I will do when I get rid of all the clutter and extra stuff such as arts and crafts supplies and sewing stuff. And home decorations. Undone projects. Extra potted plants. Excess home keeping gear.  Superfluous books and printed materials. Cumbersome furniture items.  Costume jewelry. Scarves. Yes, even scarves.

I will do more or less what I do now. Read, watch television, web surf. And I will still have coloring and embroidery to do.  I was coloring for stress relief long before it became vogue.  I have a Disneyland coloring book at least 20 years old I have been working my way through.  I pick it up from time to time and do another page.

What will I not have to do when I get everything cleared out?  I won’t have to move this to get to that. I won’t have overloaded cabinets, pantries and drawers.  I will easily see what I have and what I need to replenish and so avoid buying something of which I already have a good supply.  I won’t expend energy shuffling boxes of stuff around.  I won’t waste valuable square footage of real estate holding onto “Made in China” junk, “got it for a dollar” junk, “Walmart” junk, “Dollar Store” junk.  What didn’t get unloaded onto me at the passing of a loved one probably came from one of those sources.  Even most of the inherited things came from similarly mass produced lines of goods.

I don’t own much that is rare. I have a few things that are very special to me personally, but certainly not valuable antiques.  I practice an exercise periodically.  I imagine a wildfire is approaching and I only have three hours to load all I can in my little car and perhaps the back of his truck.  What would I load up to haul to safety?  Of what was left behind, on what would I spend the money to replace?  Items not making either of these lists become good candidates for the charity shop donation box.  The things that would not get loaded and would likely not get replaced can certainly be removed from my housekeeping ménage.

The major problem I face is the selection of items that belonged to ancestors. Some are not practical.  Some I do not have the courage to unload.  With grandchildren on the way, I am increasing my consideration of those things.  I don’t want my descendants to have the same kind of problem I have.  I worry about the challenges he or our children would face after I am gone.  If I were to not see today’s sunset, what am I leaving for them to clean up and disperse?  I would rather not have very much for the charity shop to haul away after an estate sale.  A few useful or sentimental things for them to take home and some things I need now to keep house that they won’t need are all I really want to keep.

When I read about decluttering, some much of the lists are simply trash. Broken this and piles of rusted that. I don’t have that problem. Occasionally, I keep a lamp in need of repair a little longer than usual before I give up and get rid of it.  If an article of clothing gets into the mending pile, it is doomed unless our daughter rescues it and does her magic trick to repair it.  I try to get around to it.  I just don’t make it. Magazines and billing statements can sometimes get a little much.  Candles, nail polish and lipstick are problem areas for me. They are still good items.  But, I have more than I will use in a reasonable timeframe.

My trouble is more that the excess is useful and usable stuff. Not necessarily useful for me.  Each time I come home from a shopping trip, I evaluate what non-essential items I have purchased.  These days, even food is reviewed for non-essentials (chips, ice cream, cookies). I ask myself if I have bought more fresh produce than the two of us will consume before it loses its freshness.  Cooking for two is still a major challenge.  What about toiletries and kitchen gadgets? Magazines? Cup towels? Rugs? Storage boxes? I would rather not face my purse, shoe, book and coffee addiction just yet.  But, it will come.  Sooner or later, I will deal with those things, too.

I used to watch Clean Sweep and Hoarders.  Don Aslett’s books about clutter are on my bookshelf. I have read through them several times.  I saw a small portion of Oprah’s trip to India.  A woman, her husband and their three daughters lived without despair in an eight by eight room.  Water and latrines were down the hall in a communal area.  All of these sources have helped me work through to what is essential for well-being.

Each person has a well-being setting. Mine happens to be clear, open and streamlined.  Lots of sunlight and bright spots of colors are in the plan.  Looking at the space around me in this room, I have more work to do. However, I will not berate myself for not being finished.  I will commend myself for all I have done for the past couple of weeks and over the past 25 years.

My little nieces have helped me see things more clearly, too. The time they spend here helps me see how better to make things for them and the ones coming after them.  They show me that snuggles under the covers watching Scooby Doo after a Barbie Doll bubble bath are the best!

I want to have a minimal house so I can have maximum time, energy and money to spend with them, with him and with the Dreams coming true. In the day to day, I want time and energy to spend on my true career, housekeeping. Housekeeping is not shuffling clutter around.  It is cooking and cleaning, dusting and sweeping, washing and folding. Polishing the place we gather to live together.  I want time and energy and love to spend on him.  With him. Twirling around to a song on the radio across a clean wide open floor. Or bouncing along in the buggy down a wildflower trail…………..

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Weeds

Every spring we plant a garden. Tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash and peppers are regulars.  We did this year as usual, along with eggplant.  We had greens earlier in the season. Every year, I promise myself I will keep up with the weeding.  And every year, I don’t.  Including this year.

I spent time yesterday trying to restore order from the chaos among the tomatoes and peppers. I will work on it some more over the next few days.  I ask myself why I even bother to plant.  Of course, we have fresh vegetables to eat.  Usually we have enough to put extra in the freezer.  I always make pickles.

Along the same lines, I got a dozen herbs and potted them. During the days of neglecting the garden, I also neglected the herbs.  I didn’t get them watered in time and lost a couple.  Why?  I ask myself.

It is because I don’t keep up with the weeding and watering. I let the grass grow in the tomatoes and the pots go dry on the carport and my life get overcrowded and parched as well.

So often I plan a project, prepare for it, launch it, progress with it. Then suddenly I look up and it has fallen by the way and been overrun with weeds.  In the past few years, I have been less productive. I have also launched fewer projects.

My main project at this point is editing. Even with the garden and flower beds and yard care, I am working toward less to maintain.  I am looking for beautifully streamlined set ups.  Yard care, home care, personal care, self-entertainment.  Streamlining and editing the things that must be done to make room for the things that are a joy to do.

I want my house to be tidy and clean all the time. I want my flower beds and vegetable garden to always be in great shape. I want my chores and personal care to be perfectly current.  I want time to read and watch movies.  I want to cook delicious meals for him.  I want to feel energetic and enthusiastic all the time.  I want time to paint my walls and redecorate my house.  I want time to fish and to go swimming. I want time to go visit family and friends.  I want to visit museums and parks and go to the zoo.

I want so much and reach for so much, I don’t have time or opportunity or energy to keep up. The weeds invariably grow in some areas.  Streamlining.  That is my current project.  I am streamlining as many processes and areas as possible.  Get rid of this to make time for that.  Weed out this just because it isn’t worth the place it takes in my home or my life to keep up.  This includes hobbies I thought I wanted to pursue.  I have gotten rid of more arts and crafts things.  I do still backslide in this area. But, I am quicker to notice and redirect my path.  Even getting rid of or returning items I have purchased very soon after acquisition.

Weeding. My life, my home, my heart, my mind.  Digging out things that don’t belong and making space for things that bring forth fruits of joy and satisfaction. I am happy with my progress.  I see more and more ways to make a difference, to improve my allocations of resources.  I enjoy the process of housekeeping.  I simply want to be sure the house I am keeping is one of my choosing and not what I have allowed to creep in like the weeds in my garden.

There is a reason growing in California to increase my rate of progress toward my goals these days. I need to get my life, my home and my resources in order. She won’t be here in this house for a good long while. But, she is already taking over my heart and my mind like a weed!  She is one weed I will keep!

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A Long Week

This has felt like a long week. I’m very glad for the upcoming three-day weekend and four-day work week to follow.

We have been working on the yard. He and our son cut a large oak down in the front yard several weeks ago.  It was way too close to the house.  It was a risk during storms.  The roots and overhanging limbs were too near the foundation and roof.  We have the debris almost cleaned up from that.

I am developing some more flower beds. I have a spiky yucca at the front of the house.  I decided I don’t like it being reachable by tiny fingers, so I am expanding the bed around it.  I have plenty of things to fill up a large area.  Elephant ears, day lilies, cannas, sago palms.  Although, this plan is subject to change.

There is a large mound of purple jew providing starts along the front of the house. I am trying to decide if I want to run it all the way across the front or stop at the front door where it is now.

He has set up a deck out back. It needs some more work.  I am already enjoying it, though.  I have supplies to transform a table and chairs to use outside under the carport.  I want the barbecue pit easier to use and a spot to camp when I am tending the groceries on the fire.

I love being outside. When we lived at Campers Cove, I set up a space with a glider, throws, pillows, a table.  I surrounded the area with pots of tropical plants.  It was situated so I could leave things out all day and go back and forth to my work and my rest.

The porch here is enclosed with windows. I love having it.  I spend most of my free time out here.  But, there is something about feeling the outdoors that has a healing effect on my soul.

The digging in the dirt I have been doing is also working its magic. Whether pulling weeds, relocating a plant, watering and feeding things, raking and burning, all are helpful.

I made a comment to a co-worker about my future retirement. I indicated certain things would change for me because I would have a different lifestyle.  It would be more like the way I lived before I joined the 9-5 throng.  I decided I don’t want to wait until later to have my chosen lifestyle.  I will do as much as I can in the time I have to create the life I dream about.

He has been helping me get things done I am physically unable to do. I am a middle-aged, fluffy female. My muscle strength is limited.  I have no idea how to make a tractor or chain saw work even if I were strong enough.  Thankfully, he has been spending time out with me doing those sorts of things.

No, I won’t be able to do everything right now. I can do a great deal, though.  So, I have started digging in the dirt with earnest. I have made up my mind to tackle big projects I have been putting off due to lack of time and energy.  At least that was my excuse. I will make the time and the energy will come.

I have made myself let down some barriers and visited face to face with some people. I have stepped out of my comfortable cocoon and connected personally with others. I still have a ways to go with this one.

I read a book that explained human energy. Barring physical illness, human energy is largely emotional.  It certainly is for me.  If I am tired after a long day or long week and he mentions something I really love doing or someplace I love to go, suddenly I have a surge of energy to get going.  If it is someplace or something I would rather not engage, I have even less energy and more fatigue.

I know if I get moving and keep moving, I will get to my goal. My destination, whatever it may be.  Or at least I will travel on the path toward it.  The journey is the thing.  To keep traveling the journey path.  Whatever it is and wherever it goes.

I believe if I keep following not my fickle heart, but the Spirit leading me, I will have contentment and satisfaction when I lay my head on my pillow to sleep. I listen to my gut feeling, my intuition.  That is where I find His answers for me.  I have known Him so long, I recognize His instructions.  A gentle peace or a hard conviction.  Or just a knowing something is right.  I don’t always heed, but He takes care of that, too.

Just a chair in the shade, a glass of iced tea, a flower or two around. Birds, frogs and bugs serenading me.  Pondering whether to move that plant over there or over here.  Plucking a ripe cucumber and a few squash to take in for supper.  Getting my heart ready to love him when he comes in the door.  Pretty good journey path if you ask me.

Dilemmas

The weekend is past again.  As usual, I had opportunity to see friends and go with him adventuring.  I even had a full day to lie on the porch with occasional thunder rumbling in the distance.  One of my favorite things to do.  I took time to read for pleasure.  Fiction.  I haven’t allowed myself to do that much over the past twenty years or longer.

I had a brief conversation with an acquaintance about allowing one’s self to do things.  She has retired from a long career.  Children long grown and gone.  She said it took her months to get to a point where she felt it was okay to work on projects held dear but long undone.  We were not in a situation to have a real discussion about the topic.  I certainly can identify with the feeling.

I am not retired.  Working full time and keeping up with his lifestyle takes a lot of time and energy.  Though I rested yesterday, I am tired this evening.  I have a general idea of what I should change to feel better.  I know some very specific things I should change to feel better.   But, there is a big difference between knowing what could be done and actually doing it.

I am trying to get my brain to work out a plan.  A plan and a schedule and the corresponding data to eat the right way, drink the right amount of the right things, get the best type of physical activity, follow proper sleep hygiene and so on.  The first thing is to deal with the constant pain and to get the right foods in my lunch kit.  Then, by drinking enough water and less coffee I may be able to get off my duff and get the exercises done to increase my strength and energy.

Adding to the dilemma is the coming autumn.  Why does that cause a dilemma?  The holidays will be upon me too quickly.  The leaves will be falling and I am anxious to keep up with the raking.  The plants will need to come into the house.  And my out of kilter sense of things will tell me, the trees are losing their leaves so I need to lose the clutter.  For me clearing and cleaning needs to be done in the fall.  Before the brightness of holiday lights and the brilliance of elegant glittery ornaments, the ravages of summer heat must be swept out.  Living in the subtropics, the flora and fauna overrun everything in the heat and humidity.

Additionally, I tend to go through waves of collecting and accumulating then purging and tossing.  Inevitably the outgoing wave happens in the time of shedding summer.  (I have a different mood for spring when traditional cleaning happens.  Then, I can’t get enough flowers and sunshine.  Forget cleaning.  The dirt needs turning over in the garden.)   Fall is upon the doorstep now.  On the stage in my mind, I see the props and costumes needing to go.  No longer appealing or needed, things must go to make way for other things.  Pumpkin tea set, then cornucopia baskets, then the traditional antlered floral monstrosity he loves to see on the dining table.

Summer costumes pulled from the closet must be evaluated.  Do I really want to see them next summer?  Do they go into the giveaway bag or into the storage bag?   Winter costumes pulled from the storage bags must be evaluated.  Do I really want to don them for another winter?  Do they go into the closet or into the giveaway bag?

Trivial things in a simple country house.  The life I have created for myself is indeed simple.  The drama in my life stays at work.  Enough intensity and danger there.  When that red gate closes behind my car coming in the drive, I want simple trivial things.  I want to have dilemmas that I can go to sleep on and forget about in the morning light.  I want to have dilemmas such as trying to get the goldfish still long enough for some good photos.  I want to have dilemmas such as wondering what to take to lunch tomorrow.

I have had the dilemma of wondering if I would ever shed tears again.  I had cried them all out losing Mother.  Cancer can be a long drawn out affair.  Knowing the end was coming.  Not knowing when or what it would be like when it happened.  Six years of nearly constant chemo after 2 years of nearly constant radiation.  Daddy needing hospitalization for bipolar manic depression several times through those years.  Raising two children along with it.   All our parents and grandparents have passed as well as other dear family members and friends.  The illnesses and the passing have been mourned.  But, the living our lives without them will never pass.  The dilemma of needing to hold on to hope will never pass.

That is perhaps why the little ones are so terribly important to us.  They are hope.  They are proof of our faith that the tragic dilemmas can be weathered.  They are the dream.  Ultimately, my desire to be filled with enthusiastic energy and to accomplish the tasks here at home are about them.  A place to celebrate. Full of love and magic and hope and laughter and mystery and marvel.

They are the reason I deal with the fish tank.  Maybe they will enjoy the fish.  They are the reason I don’t have certain things in my yard.  Southeast Texas has everything poisonous and venomous and stinging and biting.  I do not want structures that encourage their habitation here.  They are the reason the carpet must be removed from the porch and the floor redone.  The dishes must be sorted and realigned to make room for things children like and can use safely.  The rooms must be arranged for safety and space to play.  The yard must be diligently kept to deter fire ants and stickers.

The list goes on.  The dreams go on.  A new stage must be set.  A stage for hope and laughter.  A stage for silliness and play.  A stage for games and parties.  A stage for magic and love.

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Eight giant goldfish in a huge fish tank illuminate our living room.  Already I am wondering how to decorate them for Halloween……………they are orange…………maybe some black cat silhouettes on the front of the tank to terrorize them????   Bwahaha!   I know one little girl who might laugh at that!  Dilemmas, dilemmas……….how to set that magical stage moment……………