coming out of my shell

coming out of my shell

Monday, June 27, 2016


I have shingles, and I'm not talking about the siding on my house. 

According to the Mayo Clinic:
Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus — the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you've had chickenpox, the virus lies inactive in nerve tissue near your spinal cord and brain. Years later, the virus may reactivate as shingles.

I have a mild case because when I turned 60 my good doctor gave me the shingles vaccine.  That is the magic age healthy people are supposed to get the vaccine.  Getting older seems to be an invitation for the varicella-zoster virus to return.  I wish my body would start consulting with my mind about issuing these age-related invitations. 

My doctor said the vaccine only reduces your chance of getting an outbreak by 50%.  Don't be discouraged though, for those of us who are vaccinated an outbreak isn't nearly as painful or intense as it would be otherwise. I have heard horror stories of how painful a full blown attack of shingles can be, so I am thanking my lucky stars that I got the vaccine.

It usually presents as a small strip of blistered rash on one side of your body.  I know, ick. It often appears on your torso, sometimes on your face. I have it on my right forehead and the top of my scalp. The shingles itch and ache with some nerve pain in my neck just below my ear. FYI it is very bad news if shingles form inside the eye. If you get shingles on your face an eye doctor will examine the eye and apply eye drops that ward off the worst of it. And by the worst of it I mean loss of vision. Scary, especially since my right eye has been swelling up overnight since the outbreak. I wake up each morning looking like a boxer who took it on the eye instead of the chin.

I went to my regular doctor (GP) and then an eye doctor. Helpful tip: if you really need to see a doctor tell the receptionist you think you might have shingles. Both places got me in immediately. The GP said that the shingles medication is only effective if you start taking it within 72 hours of the outbreak. I got in just in the nick of time and I am happily and earnestly taking my medicine 3 times a day for 7 days.

The eye doctor examined my eye and said no shingles in there!  I am so relieved.

He also said because I have shingles now, I only have about a 2.5% chance I will get it again.  I do so like those odds.
An old tree with an extremely odd trunk.  Nature will do what she will.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Tree Houses

Southern live oaks are remarkable trees, the ones you think of when you imagine the Deep South. They are tall, craggy, sprawling trees with Spanish Moss dripping from the sides.

At least one nearby live oak is about 350 years old. It lives where many trees have been cut down recently to make way for a large, upscale housing development just off the bike trail.

Although most of the trees on the land were felled to clear land for houses, developers left this 350 year old tree intact. They put up a sign extolling its virtue.
I suppose they want us to think they care about the environment.
Sadly, compared to some slash-and-burn developments popping up along the trail, these people actually ARE the environmentally right-on alternative in this area

However, u
nlike the slash-and-burn subdivisions, this development is building big new houses right up to and facing the trail; that is, no privacy fences.

Before you start thinking about how much you hate privacy fences, let me say this. This particular development has a large pond on the property, AND this development is built right alongside Lake Apopka. Considering the number of alligators in that lake and (no doubt) in the pond, I don't think I'd want to live in a house without a protective fence. If you think I'm overreacting, let me just say the Fish and Wildlife people had to move a large alligator off the bike trail in that area just a couple of months ago. For some odd reason alligators are not respectful of private property and think they can go wherever they want... 

AND the developer turned the houses around so the front is facing the trail. The other developments that build along the trail put the back yards up against the trail and then put up fences.
Yes, these homeowners can sit on their front porches and watch the bikers ride by a few yards away. Aack!

I miss the shade those felled trees provided. It is super freaking hot and relentlessly sunny down here. I am an overweight oldster huffing and puffing my way up and down the trail. I could use some shade. But I must confess I don't really like people sitting on their porches watching me bike past. I am probably being overly sensitive, but it creeps me out.

I know, I know, as if those people are thinking about me at all! I am not all that interesting unless you enjoy judging chubby older women.
Then I can guarantee you I am absolutely fascinating.

I should take that high road and imagine they are cheering me on for biking against the odds. Or, I might consider this an opportunity to practice my retirement goal of not giving a damn what other people think.

Maybe tomorrow. Today I noticed about 5 more houses going up in that development, once again right next to the trail. In a few days the beauty of that parcel of land will be just another memory.

This is the real Florida, not a gated community in sight.  Don't worry, it is at a state park so it can't be developed.  I'm almost sure of it!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Digging Deep: The Blame Game Part II

Today I do not want to read any mean spirited, self-serving, blame the victim, I told you so, I'm better than (you, your country, your religion, your sexuality, your political candidate, your parenting skills) blog or Facebook posts.

Tragedies happen every day. Sometimes they happen because a person runs smack into evil through no fault of their own, sometimes bad things happen simply because a person is in the wrong place at the wrong time, other times tragedy hits because someone made a mistake.

I am no better than anyone else, especially when it comes to making mistakes. I look back at my life and I wish I could go back and be kinder, better, somehow atone for things I did that caused pain to others. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure I am not perfect and will likely make more mistakes before I die. This makes me more than a little nervous because there seems to be a long line of blamers out there just waiting to kick people when they are down. 

Why is it so important to cast blame when the victims are still reeling from the blow? I wonder if we will ever evolve to the point that our first reaction to tragedy is compassion, and our first action is kindness, regardless of the cause

Sometimes you just don't see it coming

Sunday, June 12, 2016


The massacre at The Pulse nightclub last night took place at a venue about 25 minutes away from where I live.  Am I horrified by how close terrorism has come to my home, my turf, my family?  Yes, I am horrified.  

I am also filled with grief for the beautiful young lives that were lost.  The sorrow I feel for the loss of great potential, and for the pain their loved ones feel this morning is beyond words.  

Am I afraid?  No, I am not afraid.  I am angry. 

Cypress trees on Lake Eola, Downtown Orlando

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Accepting Reality?

The month of June ushers in the heat, the humidity, the rains, and hurricane season. It has been very dry for a long, long time, so in some ways I welcome the rainy season. I just hope the pool doesn't overflow...

Last year we lost quite a few new plantings to the summer rains. This spring we took care to plant hardy native plants in the wet areas of the lawn. By the end of the summer we shall see what survives the deluge and what doesn't. I am trying to make peace with Florida, which (when you get away from the housing developments) is a big, beautiful, wild, and altogether primordial place. I am also trying not to become too attached to plants and flowers, knowing that they may not be here for the long term.

As I get older I find myself fine-tuning my attachments to people, too. I dunno, they don't seem to last either.

An old fashioned yellow iris from my gardens up north

Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Blame Game

Why is it that when a tragedy occurs the haters circle around the unlucky like vultures, ripping the carcass apart to ascertain blame?  What is wrong with us that we behave in such an unkind way?

Sometimes a tragedy is just a tragedy.  Perhaps we should mind our own business and leave it at that.