Monthly Archives: September 2013

How can you love a lake for cry eye?

Today is a day to be truly grateful for living on the shores of Lake Michigan. The weather is glorious with clear blue skies. Only 60 degrees but I would have bet it was 75 at the lake this morning. It is joyful to see my dog Aw’gy tear down the beach or bite the water with his houndy muzzle. It brings me joy to be here. I love this lake.

I always thank Aw'gy for getting me out in the morning.

I always thank Aw’gy for getting me out in the morning.

After 7 years in New Mexico, I told friends I was leaving to be closer to family and the lake.

“You’re moving because you miss the lake? We have lakes in New Mexico.”

Well, yes. Technically. But nothing like the Great Lakes.

As a kid in Whiting, IN – about 8 blocks from the lake – my mom or someone’s mom would take us to the beach nearly every summer day. We’d pack up PB&Js; don suits, shorts, shirts and Keds and head to Whiting Park. From my dad’s store on the Boulevard, we’d take 117th Street, cross three sets of tracks and a red-bricked street to the beach.

For a little kid it seemed like a re-a-l-l-y lo-o-ng walk. But then, if you’re 5 or 6 with short legs anyway …

Those trips to the beach meant everything to me. Sheer joy. Our tradition started with my mother’s family living in Whiting and enjoying the lake, camping at the Dunes. And it continues to this day as my siblings bring their children, and their children’s children to the shore. Kids frolic in the waves, wade or swim out to the sandbar, build sand castles, eat PB&Js.

A year ago I lived 11 miles from the lake but thanks to a benevolent Universe, I’m less than a half mile. “Close enough to walk, not close enough to carry a full cooler,” I’ve been told. There’s no excuse not to visit the lake everyday, but some silly sense of responsibility tells me I’ve got to work first. I’m no longer that short little kid (I’m a short big kid.) Something’s telling me to rethink my priorities and spend more time with the lake I love.

(Note: As I write this, thoughts are with a family in New Mexico that lost a son to Lake Michigan this year. News reports said he went out to watch a storm. Many of us learned early on “the lake that thinks it’s an ocean” is to be respected.)

‘Knowing when to leave can be the smartest …’

Living in nature can be just as peaceful as it is overwhelming sometimes. Last Friday I was so taken by “nature” I had no choice but to leave … sore, disappointed, confused and abused.

You see, all summer I’ve been watching the weeds wreak havoc with the wild flowers in our yard. There is SO MUCH weeding I didn’t know where to start.

Then I realized I could make a difference in the Vinca patch next to the steps, under the Junipers. So I waited for the heat wave to pass and finally last week got psyched up and geared up to attack those weeds.

Starting at the top I pulled Goldenrod and Bittersweet, used the hand rake to release last fall’s oak leaves, pushed acorns down to the next step, and lopped dead branches from the Junipers. It was looking pretty – neat and tidy, as I like it. Speaks to my sense of order. Ahhh …

Stepping down to the next layer of Vinca I reached for the loppers once again to pinch off some dead branches but then WHAM! something hit me. I don’t even remember leaving the spot but all of a sudden I was swatting at bees swarming, landing on my black turtleneck, buzzing my face.

I found myself over the wall, on the stairs with bees on me. Tearing off my hat, shirt and gloves, I ran up the stairs – confused, flushed – and opened the front door just enough to say, “Help.” If there were any lingerers, I wanted them outside, right?

images Just the week before my Honey started weeding next to the house where we’re planning a small addition, and got jabbed in the hand. Twice. A close, bee-keeping relative said they were probably Yellow Jackets.

“You’ll know them because they have yellow legs,” she said.

Oh right! Let me just run out and check their little hairy legs! Even after suffering eight or nine stings, I don’t know what color their legs were. Doesn’t matter really. They pack a punch and leave a hot spot that lasts for several hours. Four days later the spots itch like crazy.

My reaction to stinging bees was so quick I don’t remember extricating myself. Yet it can take years to apply that lesson to relationships – where the sting can be felt much deeper and the pain may last far too long.

Why make your body sick to make sure it’s not sick?

Deck-waste fitting on a Cal 34 – better than posting the results of my last medical test!

Deck-waste fitting on a Cal 34 – better than posting the results of my last medical test!

Since 60 is the new 40, I turned 41 this year. And because I choose to keep this body healthy long into the “new 80” – I get an annual physical with most of the recommended tests. But this week – during the last test – I began to wonder if it’s worth making a healthy body sick to make sure it’s not sick.

Hmm.

I’m okay with a complete blood work up. In fact, if it weren’t for the darn needle it would be a piece a cake. Fasting for several hours is not a problem. I figure it’s good for me to skip a meal or a glass of wine and drink lots of water, or skip a morning cuppa. And I eagerly await the results.

“My cholesterol is slightly elevated? What’s the ‘good cholesterol’ number? Oh, higher than most. Okay. I’m good with that. And what’s the ‘bad cholesterol?’ In the range?”

Even getting my mammos grammed is okay. Flattening my ribs and soft parts under a plastic smoosher for a few seconds was weird years ago but I’ve gotten used to it – and it seems to be a small price to pay. Besides, I don’t have to fast, it’s not invasive, and the technicians are usually good at making us girls feel comfortable.

Lucky me, THIS year called for the colon camera! While I tolerated the prep pretty well, I started to feel sick  while my hospital bed was being wheeled down the hall toward the procedure room.

In case you’ve missed out, the “Easy Prep” – as they call it – consists of fasting for  about 20 hours plus downing a bottle of a lemon-lime saline laxative with two tiny stool softeners. One bottle at about 6 p.m. the night before the procedure and another in the morning to provide a clean track for the camera. It was okay, really.

My appointment was at 10 a.m. I followed orders not to drink water the 4-6 hours beforehand so I wouldn’t throw up. So I tolerated the prep, managed the dehydration – knowing it was temporary and heck, if I passed out, at least I was in the right place right?

A nice nurse named Veronica gave me a gown made for a 300-pound man. She started an IV in my right hand as we chatted, and all was well.

I’m a well person, I told myself. This is only a test. But when they started moving my bed down the hall I started feeling like a sick person – I started thinking, “what if I was sick? What if I was being wheeled into surgery instead?”

I began to feel queasy. My pulse quickened.

The super anesthesiologist hooked up the oxygen. “Wow, this is a big test,” I said, to three people working around me. As he released the sedative into the IV port he said, “You might feel a slight burn.” I waited – didn’t feel it. But I did feel the sedative begin to work. “Here it comes,” I said, and started thinking about sailing.

I awoke in a recovery room – kinda like ER with a curtain separating me from a woman next door. I looked up to see my honey walking toward me. Next the doctor showed up with his report – nadda. Thank you. Bye.

He was a very nice, caring man. Before the procedure when he asked if I had any questions for him, I said, “Yes. I’m a well person. I eat right. Take care of myself. Is this test really necessary?”

“Well, we do suggest every 10 years – if you’re well,” he said. Silly me. That’s his business.

This is a personal decision and one I cannot make 10 years in advance. I am grateful now to be well. But these bodies cannot last forever; we know that. We are given the opportunity to take care of them, or not. I’m not sure right now I would have another colonoscopy. I might just eat more broccoli.

What about you?