Sunday, September 21, 2014


"One man's poison ivy is another man's spinach."
~George Ade

Ah-the great outdoors. My favorite place is outside with nature, sunshine, furry creatures, vegetable gardens and blooming flowers. But nature decided to bite me in the ass this week, literally.

Two weeks ago we decided to tackle a huge weed area in our lovely "woodsy" backyard. It was a hot weekend so great for a tank top and shorts-last bit of sun before fall. Nothing looked like poison ivy....

Two days later driving a queen of a lady and her fair princess to a concert in Philadelphia I noticed the bumps. She asked if they were bug bites (I do get many) and I said yes, or a flesh eating virus.

Two nights after that, sitting at "back to school night" for my daughter it was very clear it was more than bugs. I hid my arms as best as I could, embarrassed.

Nature had another win, that night for the dog's last walk she found a skunk. Pepelepew was not in the mood for a romp and sprayed. There began  the long evening of trying, at 11:00 at night, to find something anti-skunk wash.

And then the itching started to take off.

We began living our own version of the Itchy and Scratchy show (The Simpson's) with a hope that a mouse with a cleaver might actually strip my skin off. And it just kept spreading. We washed everything many times in what we needed to wash it in but it never stopped. Forget water-boarding to get terrorist's to talk-give them a huge all-over poison ivy outbreak and tie their hands!

By Monday-after a week-a doctor's appointment. High dose steroids was the next adventure. Many side effects come with that but the main one for me was fuzzy brain. Driving quickly seemed not a good idea. People at work were talking to me and I couldn't put their words together, AND I was still itchy.

It's now been two weeks, finally it is going away.....slowly. Still on the 'roids" but the lowest dose now-loopy but manageable.

So the great outdoors....still love it. Still love my yard and all it requires. But it has humbled me and taught me a few lessons. Hazmat suits required for weeding and diligent flashlight use for late night dog walks.

The winter will be another adventure. My driveway is a black diamond ski slope. But have you seen the view?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

"The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep."
~Robert Frost

Sleep. We are always chasing the right amount. We wake up early for work, school, pets or simply because that's what we do. As kids we fight going to bed, as adults we relish it.

We sleep to forget, to heal, to dream or to simply function.

My insomnia started as a kid. I come by it honestly from my father. I remember as a preteen telling my parents I couldn't sleep (like they could solve it magically) on many occasion. Bless them they were very patient because I believe as a mom myself I'd be less so. My dad would occasionally give me a tiny glass of Sheri and we'd talk for a bit.

My boys sometimes have my same problem. Lily, being adopted, has an amazing sleep ability. In fact as a toddler and even young kid she could fall asleep in the middle of a fireworks display. She's a sleep rock star.

Of course there are pills or herbs, tapes or magazine articles telling you that YOU CAN SLEEP. I've tried many....

A few times I have wished hard for more sleep when I've felt at the end of my rope. Once, pregnant and with a toddler, I wished for a break and ended up on preterm labor and bed rest....enjoy right? Once while working a physically intensive job plus another part time job as a single mom added with a long bout of insomnia I think I actually cried for sleep....welcome the swine flu.

I have many moments like that where I wish for something and I get it....but with a negative attached. I no longer wish. It's like the Genie's lamp, you'll get a version of your wish but be oh so specific.

My kids just got new beds. Five years ago while moving out of a terrible marriage (redundant I guess-who would leave a fantastic marriage?) I had to buy my kids beds and I had no access to money. I was cut off from their dad and my crappy part time job paid, well, less than crap. So what I could afford was....crap.

I bought them cheap beds and cheaper mattresses and they have soldiered through. But now with a real job and a partner who loves them I could finally get them nice, comfortable beds. They are so excited. It's the difference between sleep and good sleep. The difference of a night on a couch or on a deluxe mattress at a five start hotel.

But even so, good bed, perfect temperature, physical exhaustion and the right atmosphere, we can toss and turn until the sun rises.

Just be careful what you wish for.

"The last refuge of the insomniac is a sense of superiority to the sleeping world."
~Leonard Cohen