Dear Poison Ivy: How Do I Hate Thee? Let Me Count The Ways

I got into some poison ivy in our yard on Friday, 8/22.  Here’s my hate letter to it.  It references a few gross aspects of poison ivy, which you may or may not enjoy reading.

Dear Poison Ivy:

How do I hate thee?  Let’s just count the ways.

1. You make me itch.  I’ve had flea bites and mosquito bites and those are NOTHING compared to the itchiness from you.  Peppermint essential oil is keeping it mostly under control but when it wears off in the middle of the night and I wake up itching (which, by the way, makes it worse) and then Mark pushes his feet down my legs and makes them itch even more, really, I just want to scream.

2. You hurt me.  Couldn’t it have been enough that you make me itch?  Did you really have to add in the waves of shooting pain up to the tips of my fingers and down to my elbow?

3. You are insidious and sneaky.  I’ve been battling that English ivy all over our yard for seven years.  SEVEN YEARS!  And I’ve never met you, not even once.  Why now?  Couldn’t you have just left us alone?

4. You make me paranoid.  I have so much ivy left to eliminate and now I’m scared to even touch it.  I didn’t even see any sign of you on Friday and yet, I’ve got it all over me.  How am I going to know when you’ll show up again?  My kids are outside with me all the time when I’m doing yard work and even though I’m going to be wearing shoes, socks, gloves, long sleeves, and long pants every time I touch the ivy from now on, how am I going to keep my kids from getting it?  How am I ever going to get this project done if I have to do it when Nik’s at home?

5. You just won’t stop.  Why couldn’t you just show up all at once and get it over with?  Why do you have to show up, a blister or two at at time, day after day after endless day?  (On second thought, maybe I should be grateful to you for this because I don’t know if I could have taken the initial itching from all the spots at once.  So I guess I only strongly resent you for this one.)

6. You gross me out.  This oozing has really got to stop.  Who thought it was a good idea to make the blisters ooze orange sticky fluid for days on end?  Couldn’t they just pop, drain, and be done with it?  Do you really think I like looking gross and disgusting all the time?

7.  You distract me.  Seriously, I’m not a very good driver when you are all over my arms.  I keep getting distracted by it and not paying very good attention.  (Don’t worry though – I’ve given myself strict instructions to PAY ATTENTION TO THE ROAD.)

8.  You raise my hopes and dash them.  When the first patch of rash popped out, after it had fully developed into blisters, I hurt from the tips of my finger tips to my elbow.  Even though the patch was near my wrist and my skin looked fine otherwise, it hurt to touch.  But within a couple days, the pain/itchiness had localized and the rest of my arm felt fine.  Then yesterday, another patch of blisters popped out, on that previously clear skin! (See “You just won’t stop” above.)  Why?  Why did you take back skin I’d already reclaimed?

9. You make me want to push my kids away. With blisters on both arms, both legs, and a bit on my back, I don’t want anyone or anything to touch me.  How do I tell that to a 20-month old who wants to nurse and needs a lot of love and touching?  How do I tell that to an “almost-four”-year-old who’s going through a particularly touchy, affection-seeking phase?  I really can’t.  So I do my best not to yell at them when they run and grab my legs for fun or when they pile onto me, wanting to wrestle.  Then I [gently if I can] move them off my blisters and wait for the itchiness to subside again.

10.  You exhaust me.  It’s hard to sleep when I’m itchy and in pain!

Here’s the only thing I don’t hate you for.  You’ve helped me get the faintest, tiniest glimmer of understanding of what it might be like to live with a chronic medical condition, such as lupus or fibromialgia.  You’ve helped me understand that even if you’re in great pain, somehow you just go on.  You just push through because you have to. You just get up in the morning and do what you have to do.  But even while you’re doing that, your day is tainted.  My poison ivy will eventually go away.  Many people don’t have that hope.  I’ll do my best from now on to offer what compassion and help that I can to those I know who are suffering because, I get it.  Maybe just barely, but I do.

P.S. I was going to show you some pictures of the patches of poison ivy all over my body but really, who wants to see that, right?  So instead, let’s all feast our eyes on my mom’s amazingly gorgeous garden and wish we were all in Alaska with her, because as I always like to say,

In Alaska, you might get eaten by a bear but at least you won’t get poison ivy.*

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*Seriously, I’ve been saying that for many years but now I really mean it!


Posted in gardening | Tagged | 6 Comments

Classics Club, Book #7: Emma (from July 2014)

This is my seventh post for The Classics Club (just a month late).  I’ll be reading one classic book a month for the next 4-5 years.  Track what I’m reading for the Classics Club here.  I’ll try not to include too many spoilers in my review but I may need to discuss some in order to fully review the book. I’ll warn you if I’m going to mention one.  

Emma by Jane Austen

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  • Year Published: 1815
  • Reread? Or new to me?:  Reread (I bought this copy in England in 1999!)
  • Number of Pages: 386
  • Date Finished: Somewhere in the middle of July, I forgot to write it down.
  • Number of Days it took me to read it: 6 (???)
  • Page/Day ratio:  64:1
  • Will I reread this?*: I may not.  I’ve read it at least three times and I don’t think I have the desire to push through it again.


So far, this is my least favorite of Jane Austen’s six novels.  It’s far longer than it needs to be and drags so badly that I kept going to the chapter summary at the back of the book to see if it was even worth reading.  Miss Bates’ droning was funny the first time but by the sixty-millionth time, I had to force myself to push through pages of chatter.  I couldn’t help but wish Austen had had a better editor for this one.  Emma irritated me.  I found Frank Churchill fairly repulsive and Mr. Knightley overbearing and not all that attractive.  (Maybe I was just in an annoyed mood the whole week I was reading it?)

Frankly, my favorite character on this reading was Mr. Knightley’s brother.  He’s so obviously an introvert and I had fun reading all his character descriptions and off-handed comments, such as “Why would anyone want to leave their house at night to go to a dinner party if they don’t have to?” :)

Does anyone else share my lack of love for Emma?


Had I posted this at the end of July like I should have, I would have invited you to read Middlemarch by George Eliot in August with me.  But, somehow I managed to finish that gigantic thing (and will try to blog about it before the end of September).  Perhaps you’d like to join me in reading Austen’s Northanger Abbey in September?


*I decided to ditch the question, “Would I have wanted to read this in English class?” because I was finding it difficult to answer.  I frankly don’t really remember myself from almost 20 years ago (YIKES).  My intent in asking myself that question every time was really to get at whether or not I enjoyed it enough to be glad that I’d read it.  So I’ve replaced the question with, “Will I reread this?” and we’ll see if that question works for me.

010 (800x533)Mark was so cuddly I couldn’t keep from laughing! :)

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I’m So Patriotic, I Win Ribbons In Red, White, and Blue!

I never write about politics on this blog but if you know me in person, you probably know that I’m a bit conflicted when it comes to patriotism (particularly in relation to what it means relative to being a follower of Jesus Christ).  All that aside, I did manage to win red, white, and blue ribbons at the fair so hooray for me and the USA! :)

I won two red ribbons (2nd place) for Ellie’s red dress and her sundress and a white ribbon (third place) for her Easter dress.

DSC00869 (800x600)I’m pointing at the sundress. The Easter dress is hanging above the orange flower outfit.

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I am also proud to announce that I won a blue ribbon for my tote!

blue ribbon bag (800x600)Annoyingly, it was buried behind all the other tote entries and really difficult to see under the plastic.  Oh well.  At least the judges saw it for what it was worth!

When I dropped off my things, the woman said, “Ooooo nice quilting!” about the tote so I was hopeful!  I forgot to look at the other dresses very closely but I did inspect all the other tote bags entered in my category and it’s a good thing I won.  It was so far head and tails better than the rest that I would have been pretty mad to have not gotten a blue!


We have a bit of a tradition going with some friends of ours.  We park at their house (because they live quite close to the fair) and then walk over.  This year, three of the four kids rode in the red wagon.

DSC00868 (800x600)clearly not thrilled with getting their picture taken

After indulging me by roaming around the Home Arts building (and after Sharla and I decided we are also going to dominate the Baking section next year), we oohed and aahed at all the animals (baby pigs! born as we watched!) and then ate dinner.  Mr. Tim kindly bought all the kids chocolate milk for dessert.  Ellie and Mark were IN HEAVEN, because being the mean parents we are, we’ve never given them chocolate milk before.

DSC00875 (800x533) DSC00876 (800x533)“What is this incredible stuff? Don’t you dare try to take this away from me, Mama!!”

Here’s your state fair tip: Prigel Creamery chocolate milk, almost as delicious as ice cream and a steal at only $3.50 for a quart!  We all came home stuffed full of local lamb and local chocolate milk.  Add in four ribbons and $32 in winnings (minus personal income tax, of course) and I call that a great night! :)

Thanks to my mother-in-law, Tina, for taking all of these pictures.  Some year, we’ll remember to take our own camera to the fair!

Posted in Ellie, friends, Mark, sewing | 2 Comments

When Canning Goes Bad (literally)

Last week, Nik went downstairs for another jar of strawberry jam and came up with this:

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That’s right, that’s a jar of strawberry jam, being consumed by mold.  Evidently, I didn’t notice that one of the jars hadn’t sealed when I put them into storage last summer.  So, for the past 15 months, it’s been living open to the environment.

002 (800x533) (2)As you can see, a good bit of the of the moisture of the jam evaporated, leaving far more than the required one-quarter inch head space for jam. 

I was going to title this post, “When Canning Goes Horribly Wrong” but decided “horribly wrong” should be reserved for something truly horrible – like someone getting hurt or dying.  And no one did.  We didn’t eat it, of course (despite my teasing Nik that I would just scrape the mold off and the bottom would be fine).

004 (800x533)impressive colors, aren’t they?

Let this be a lesson to you – make sure all your jars are sealed before storing them!  I’m not sure why I didn’t catch this one because I usually fanatically check mine multiple times.  Oh well.  It made for an interesting science experiment. :)

Posted in cooking | 2 Comments

Treehugger, Etc.

Mark’s new obsession (and developmental milestone): building towers!

012 (800x534) so proud of himself!

013 (800x533) (3) 014 (800x533) (3) 015 (800x533)his preferred building location? definitely the window sill

Ellie’s current obsession: making “salad”, i.e. cutting hundreds of tiny bits of fabric and paper.  She spent close to two hours every day this week working on this project while Mark was sleeping.  I LOVE it when she makes salad!

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Last weekend, our carbon monoxide detector starting beeping randomly.  It was giving us the “I’m broken” signal.  Nik bought us a new one and as I was reading the instructions, I saw, “In seven years, this unit will expire and will start to beep every 30 seconds.”  When did we get our first carbon monoxide detector?  When we got married seven years ago and I moved in, I realized that our house had neither smoke alarms or a carbon monoxide detector. So we fixed that problem right away!

011 (800x534)our seven-year anniversary alarm! :).

A fun morning of picking yellow wax beans from our garden ended up with six pounds of beans on the counter and four quarts of beans in the freezer.

001 (800x533) 006 (800x533)drying after blanching, waiting for the cookies sheets and freezer

Some brother/sister coloring time translated into Mark’s first official coloring experience.

001 (800x533) (2) 002 (800x533)so proud of his drawing!

Mark seems to be a bit of a tree hugger so now we’re calling him “Nature Boy”, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing to be!

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And there you have it, a taste of our week, in pictures!

Posted in Ellie, gardening, Mark | 3 Comments

July Sewing: Cute Fabric, Boring Project

Now that we have two kids, we needed to have two car seat bags for checking the car seats.  I sewed one for Ellie’s new car seat in July, just before we left on our Alaska trip.  It was one of the rather more boring projects I’ve done in awhile but here, sometimes we have to sew the prosaic projects too, right?

alaska 694 (800x533)new one on left, old one on right; fabric: organic brushed cotton from a Pottery Barn king-sized duvet cover that I found at a PB outlet; originally over $100, I paid $12.  So this is probably the world’s fanciest car seat bag!  It feels lovely!

This one is of my own design, not having found a tutorial for exactly what I wanted.  I think I used this tutorial as a starting point but mine is lined for durability and constructed differently.  If anyone wants me too, I can write up a simple tutorial for how to make these.  They’re quite easy to sew but just require a lot of fabric.  Leave a comment and I’ll try to do it in the near future.

Posted in sewing, travel | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

I’m an Official State Fair Exhibitor, Times Five!

Our State Fair begins on Friday and this year I entered five items!

It’s going to be hard to beat last year’s record of a blue ribbon for every entry (i.e. one blue ribbon for one entry) but I am hoping to make at least a little bit of thread money for next year’s projects.

Here’s what I entered.

002 (800x800)clockwise from top left: Ellie’s Easter dress, Ellie’s sundress, my tote, Ellie’s Montana dress, and Mark’s quilt.  I would have entered Mark’s tie also if it wasn’t lost. :(

So, if you’re going to the Maryland State Fair, make sure to go to the BEST building there (Home Arts, obviously) and look for the dresses in the Clothing section and the quilt and tote in the Quilting section.

Last year, I resolved to enter learn woodcarving (mythical creatures) and all sorts of other obscure things, which did NOT happen.  However, I also decided that I wanted to enter a bag, a quilt, and a dress and look at that!  I did!  I almost didn’t enter Mark’s quilt because it has so many imperfections in it but there was a specific category for “small quilts, made for a child, primarily patchwork” and that fits Mark’s quilt exactly.  Also, his quilt is very different than almost any other quilt I’ve seen at the fair.  It’s in the “modern quilting” realm and so I figured other people might enjoy seeing it there.  Plus, it will be hanging up high, where hopefully all the flaws will melt away!

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