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I love nothing more than being outside, particularly with the near perfect cool and sunny weather we had this weekend. Unfortunately, Mother Nature hates me and tries hard to make my life miserable.
As I mentioned just two weeks ago, I have more than a desire to be outdoors. I have a driving need for it. Fresh air reenergizes me and helps me focus.
Unfortunately, I am allergic to a few things in the wild. Pollens of all sorts. Mold. Dust. Basically, I am allergic to being outside, a real challenge for someone who needs to be there. My eyes water. I sneeze and cough. I can’t breathe. Other than that, it’s wonderful.
To add to the fun, I am that person who can be bitten by a mosquito when no one else even notices they are around. No, that’s not my imagination. Scientists have studied the phenomena and proven some people are natural attractors. Veritasium even did a fascinating video on it. Watch it and you will feel your skin crawl.
Despite the risks, Saturday afternoon found me out in the yard tinkering, sneezing and coughing. It was too gorgeous a day to stay inside just because of a wee bit of risk of misery.
At one point, I noticed a vine growing on the side of the tree. Being Mr. Helpful Around the House (stop snickering), I grabbed the vine and started pulling it down. Not an easy task since it had a strong grip, but that made me even more determined. I pulled and pulled and pulled. I retrieved pruners from the garage and pried.
Bit by bit, inch by inch, I unwound the beast. Dust fell from its roots and sprinkled my face, arms, and eyes. The leaves rubbed against my skin. Soon, I was filthy and sweaty, but happy to be doing something physical under the warm sun.
Footsteps approached from behind me. My Ever Patient Partner In Life, who has suffered through all my antics for over three decades, had wondered what I was up to. “What are you doing?”
“Removing this vine.”
Silence for a few seconds. “Isn’t that poison ivy?”
“No, of course not.”
“Are you sure?”
I studied it through my watery eyes. It couldn’t be that poisonous plant. I would recognize it. After all, I was a Boy Scout many, many, many moons ago. I even remembered the old mantra. Leaves of three, let it be.
I’m really not sure which was more painful—the knowing look of doom I received or the growing feeling of dread.
The mind does funny things. Several weeks ago, I felt a tickle on my leg. A tick merrily made his way up my skin. I removed him before he bit, but soon felt another tickle. A glance told me nothing was there. My imagination. A ghost tick.
Another tickle. I twisted my body and saw nothing. Another tickle. Examination and nothing. And another and another and another.
Of course there was only one, but, for the next several days, I became convinced every bump or itch was a tick.
It’s the same when I collide with a spider web, a not infrequent event when walking the dogs through the woods. Once the sticky strings are removed, every tickle must be a spider crawling, right? His hairy legs sliding across my skin as he plots his revenge for destroying his home.
And you think having a writer’s imagination is a good thing?
Within seconds of identifying the plant, the first itch broke out. My skin tingled with rage at its poisons. Yet, I didn’t see any rash, so I knew it was all in my mind, but my imagination was vivid. It always is.
As quickly as I could, I finished the job. The offending vine was cleared. I raced inside the house, threw my clothers into the washing machine, and stepped into a steaming hot shower. I scrubbed every pore. And then I washed again. And again.
As soon as I exited the shower, an itch developed. My face felt dry and flaky. A quick examination and I knew no rash had developed. For the rest of the day, through the night, and all of Sunday, a thousand pringly sensations flared, but nothing was there.
By Sunday evening, I knew I would escape this one. I had beaten nature at her game. She wouldn’t win this round.
To celebrate, we went to an outdoor cafe to end the weekend with a good sandwich and a cold beer. The sky was clear and crystal blue. The sun settled onto the horizon. The temperatures drifted downward.
I leaned back in my chair, happy in the great outdoors. I picked up my glass and felt a crawling sensation on the back of my hand. I turned my wrist, praying I wouldn’t see the tell-tale red bumps.
I didn’t. A mosquito perched on the exposed skin. At barely 60º, she shouldn’t even be able to fly about. No one else swatted at themselves to shoo away the invaders. I was the only one bothered. I reached to flick her away, but she was faster.
She bit me. Mosquitos are not only unnaturally attracted to me, but their secretions cause a minor allergic reaction. Within seconds, a bump grew. My skin burned.
I raised my glass to the sky and toasted Mother Nature. She won after all. She always does.
Thank you so much for your support. Preorders for my next novel are running quite strong, far ahead of my other books. I’m so excited to share Purvis’s story with you on October 19.
In country stores, old men gather over breakfast and coffee to swap tall tales. The fish are bigger, danger greater, and adventures wilder in the stories told at a Liars’ Table. No harm in stretching the truth when nothing exciting happens in their small town.
Until someone steals Purvis Webb’s car. Life is hard enough without thieves. A wife in a nursing home. An estranged daughter. A grandson he didn’t know existed.
When he finds his car and steals it back, he takes more than he intended. Evil men follow him back to his quiet Appalachian home. They do more than threaten violence. They expose the family’s lies that have been buried all these years.
Charlotte’s marriage might be the talk of the town considering her humble beginnings, but she’s happy—until she finds a woman floating in the lake in the same spot her new husband’s first wife tragically drowned. The mystery deepens when her husband denies ever seeing the woman before, even though Charlotte saw them together the day before.
As Charlotte’s fear grows, she doesn’t know who she can trust. She truly believes her new husband is a good man, but is he hiding dark secrets?
Facebook has a number of oft discussed issues facing it—part of the reason I’ve reduced my personal use of the social media platform. One of those is the sheer volume of copyright violations and blatant plagiarism often used by pages for click-bait. For example, as this post highlights, of the 20 most viewed posts in the second quarter of this year, 75% of them were lifted from outside sources without any attribution. As someone working in the creative world, this is beyond frustrating. It’s criminal.
Gratuitous Dog Picture
The nice weather this weekend prompted many games of tackle-wrestle-bitey face-body slam-tag you’re it, particularly between bestest buddies Roscoe P. and His Royal Highness Little Prince Typhoon Phooey. In this particular moment, Roscoe debates his next move from the safety of the bushes while the Little Prince not so patiently waits. Don’t worry, the games resumed quickly.
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