Welcome to The Voyage of Windbird . . . and Beyond. My name is Judy Handley and I live on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. For six years of my life, my husband Mark and I sailed around the world. I documented that story, one day at a time, in this blog that was then just called The Voyage of Windbird. Those daily logs from 2005 to 2011 tell the story of our circumnavigation. While sailing, my daily logs were sent via Ham radio to the internet to appear on this blog spot each morning. My son Justin made that happen, and to this day, I don’t understand the process. But it was like magic. I would sit in the cockpit each afternoon around 4 pm and summarize the day’s activities. During the evening when the conditions were just right for sending radio emails, my husband would send the log. The next morning my son, my daughter, other members of my family and good friends would read the news and know exactly where in the world we were and what fun we were having.
After almost 6 years of traveling, we sailed into Woods Hole on Cape Cod. We continued living aboard for the next five years and I wrote about that, adding ‘and Beyond’ to the title of the blog. Then shortly before Mark’s death in 2016, we sold our beloved Windbird and my travel logs became land logs. At this point, I had written a daily account for each and every day for 11 years. I fully intended to end the blog at that point, but when I wrote that news in a log, I got many responses saying that I really needed to keep posting. At the same time, I realized that I couldn’t stop writing. Summarizing each day had become a permanent part of my life and I will probably continue writing until I can no longer. These postings reflect the ordinary, and sometimes the extraordinary, days in my life and I would like to invite you to join me on my journey.
2020 Life Logs, Day 140: Kayak Krazies
Date: Wednesday, May 20, 2020
Weather: Sunny with a Cool Breeze; High 56, Low 40 degrees F
Location: At Home in Cottage, East Falmouth, MA
Another gorgeous day, and another day when I didn’t do what was on my agenda. But that’s okay as I enjoyed every minute of this unplanned day. My morning did go according to plan. I got up and took Shadow for a walk and then got ready for my physical therapy session on Zoom. The stretches Joe has me doing are a bit painful, but they seem to be making a positive improvement with my back issue. He upped the level of the back extension stretch I am to do every two hours. He is now calling it a ‘press up’ and it is more like a push up where your legs stay on the floor while you push your head and arched back upwards until your arms are locked straight. Then you exhale while holding the position and repeat nine more times. Like I said, it doesn’t feel great, but when I am done, the heaviness and pain in my lower back and hips is better. I am to continue this until next Monday when we meet again. We both laughed that we realized we will be meeting on Memorial Day. Like Joe said, in these coronavirus days, we really have stopped worrying about what day of the week it is.
Early this morning, I got a text from Heather asking if the boys could come over this afternoon so she could host her Wednesday webinar in peace and quiet. And, of course, I said I would love to have them. They had decided that they wanted to have a Nerf gun battle. I am not a Nerf gun fan, but I said okay as long as they followed the rules. They did and they had a great time. I had them set up a little fenced area for Shadow as I didn’t want him chasing and eating Nerf bullets and I sat with him inside the fenced area and read. When it was time for Ollie to go home for his weekly 4 pm violin lesson on Zoom, Sam and Jonah decided they wanted to stay and go kayaking. Well, they didn’t really want to kayak. They wanted to practice capsizing the kayaks and sinking them while playing in the water.
I’m figuring this activity is fulfilling their physical education requirements for school and teaching them a little physics while having fun. That was fine with me, so they stayed with Shadow while I took Ollie home. When I returned, the ‘Kayak Krazies’ began and they had a blast. It was low tide and they could literally walk in the water, so it seemed safe enough. They stood up in the kayaks and used them like paddle boards. They jumped out and capsized the kayaks and then rode on them and looked like they were riding on a whale’s back. Then they found ways to fill the kayaks with water and get them to sink. Heather brought Ollie back after his violin lesson and he joined in the fun as well. Heather and Jonah headed home around 6 pm to help Jed get dinner ready while Sam and Ollie showered. I didn’t get them home until almost 7 pm, just in time for a late dinner. They are all looking forward to returning tomorrow afternoon. The weather tomorrow and Friday is supposed to be even warmer than today and it will still be low tide in the middle of the afternoon, so it is a perfect time for Kayak Krazies. So much fun.
2020 Life Logs, Day 139: Glorious Weather Day
Date: Tuesday, May 19, 2020
Weather: Sunny and Breezy; High 59, Low 44 degrees F
Location: At Home in Cottage, East Falmouth, MA
Today was a gloriously beautiful, breezy spring day with blue skies and sunshine. My plan for the day was to do some gardening. I was going to work on getting my drip irrigation system up and running and then plant some seeds. So much for plans. That didn’t happen. But a good thing did happen and it was garden related. Before I went for my morning walk with Shadow, I got a call from Justin bringing me up-to-date on things in Puerto Rico. Where he lives in western Puerto Rico, they seem to be following the same guidelines as we have here in Massachusetts and stay-at-home is still in place. Justin is spending most of his time working on his computer. Jo is spending a lot of time in her garden. Ziggy is playing MineCraft with friends and enjoying being with them each day, even if it is online. Prior to Justin and Jo relaxing rules about online time, Ziggy was getting very lonely and really missing contact with his friends. This MineCraft group has solved his problem. And Coco continues to play dollies with her friends on Zoom. So, the days of living with the threat of the coronavirus are going along there just as they are here. After the call, I did go on my walk with Shadow and then I got a text from Jane Woodin asking if I would like to come dig up some Jerusalem Artichokes to plant here. These plants are perennials and they multiply like mad. You can eat the tubers of these artichokes, but the real reason for having them is that they have the most beautiful yellow flowers in late summer and into the fall. Jane always picks bunches of them and delivers them to friends to brighten their days. And those of us who have been the recipients of these beautiful bouquets have asked if we could dig some up to start on our properties. I tried transplanting the roots of the dried-up plants last fall, but none of those have come up this spring. So, I jumped at the opportunity to go over and get some to transplant. I ended up getting quite a few and it basically took me the rest of the afternoon to get them planted. Bruce also offered some hops vines, so I transplanted those around a tree so the vines could climb and I added a couple of the luffa sponge seedlings I have been growing inside, as they are also climbers. I didn’t harden them off first, so I hope they make it. But if not, I have 18 more seedlings to plant later. I did spend the day gardening . . . just not on the tasks I had planned. Maybe I’ll get back to that plan tomorrow. Thank you, Bruce and Jane for sharing. I sure hope these transplants make it! And after spending the entire afternoon outside in the sun and breezy conditions digging trenches in which to plant the artichokes, I am zapped. Time for bed.
2020 Life Logs, Day 138: PT and the GYWC
Date: Monday, May 18, 2020
Weather: Mostly Cloudy with Glimpses of Sunshine; High 56, Low 48 degrees F
Location: At Home in Cottage, East Falmouth, MA
Here’s your daily puzzle. What does PT stand for? Yes, physical therapy. And this morning I had my first ever PT assessment on Zoom. It worked great, but now I just have to hope that the new recommendations work. My physical therapist is a young man named Joe. He asked all the normal questions and he was able to watch me as I executed his directions for physical movement and record the responses. After an hour of assessment, he gave me his ‘prescription’ for activity for the next two days . . . until we meet again on Zoom. I have been using stretches and exercises for sciatic pain, but he wants to try a different approach. He believes the problem is either a herniated disc or simply a damaged disc or discs pressing on nerves in the lower spine–not just a pitiformis muscle issue. Basically, instead of pulling my knees in toward my body as a stretch as I have been doing, he wants me to arch my back in an extension. Laying on my stomach and keeping my pelvis on the floor, I am to raise my torso by pushing on my hands and straightening my arms. Ouch. It does not feel good and seems counter-intuitive, but he wants me to do these extensions every two hours during the day for two days. He thinks this will relieve the pressure I feel in my hips and the pain that goes down into my thighs. He left in place one sitting stretch I have been doing so that when the pain gets too bad, I can do that to relieve the pressure. Another thing he prescribed was never sitting with having a rolled up towel in the small of my back. This is like magic. When I lean back into the rolled-up towel, it throws my shoulders back and my posture is no longer leaning forward when working on the computer. It helps me sit straight up and it feels so good.
So that is the PT part of the puzzle. Now for the GYWC—the Goldpebble Yard Work Crew. My neighbor and landlady, Shirley, put out the call yesterday to have her lawn mowed. The man who owns the house next door to her is a landscaper up near Boston and only comes to the house next door on weekends during the summer. But he sends a landscaping crew to do the lawn anytime needed. When Shirley’s husband died in 2015, he started doing her yard as well. And when I moved here, they also did my yard. But the house was put on the market last fall and the landscapers have not returned this spring. Shirley’s grass was getting very tall. Her niece and my friend Karen Baranowski suggested to her yesterday that maybe my grandsons would like to take on this job. And indeed, they did. Heather delivered the crew, the lawn mower, and the weed whacker at 1:45 this afternoon and they worked at break neck speed for the next hour and 45 minutes. Sam was in charge of mowing the grass, but all three boys were given a chance to do some mowing. Jonah was in charge of trim work with the weed whacker and Ollie was in charge of dragging a tarp laden down with grass clippings from Shirley’s yard to the hillside going down to the water in my side yard. That is where the clippings have always been dumped, so we just continued the tradition. Ollie also used the hand clippers to trim back briars and bushes in various parts of Shirley’s property. The Goldpebbles were a lean, mean crew! They worked together to get the job done and the result looked great. They are interested in doing this for Shirley all summer if the landscapers don’t return. After talking to Shirley, I let them set their own fee. They thought it through and came up with a very reasonable rate. I am calling them the Goldpebble Yard Work Crew, but they might come up with a different name. This evening I asked Jed to help them learn how to do a computer invoice to make the whole affair official. That way I can pay them when they do the job and then we will invoice Shirley and she will pay me. I hope this works out for the boys as it is a great way to nurture the work ethic. And maybe we can further the experience by having them keep track of their earnings and how they spend the money. Then it will also be an economic lesson as well.
2020 Life Logs, Day 137: Goldstones Over for Dinner
Date: Sunday, May 17, 2020
Weather: Partly Sunny, A Little Cooler; High 53, Low 46 degrees F
Location: At Home in Cottage, East Falmouth, MA
It was one of those slow and easy Sundays. Shadow and I spent the morning together walking in the sunshine and playing in the yard. Then at noon, I went into town to resupply my dwindling beer supply by ordering ahead and doing curbside pick-up. And from there I went to see what the Goldstones were up to and to invite them over for dinner. I had a bunch of laundry that I needed to pick up, mostly towels from kayaking and car washing yesterday, and I decided to take the laundry baskets of the Goldstones’ unfolded laundry home with me to do that for them. Fixing dinner took more time than I thought, so I didn’t get the job done in time for them to take their clothes home with them tonight, but they are now folded and ready for delivery tomorrow morning. Heather and Jed are still spending their weekends working on renovation projects, so relieving them of laundry folding is my contribution.
Yesterday Sam got his new bedroom splatter painted and he was a happy 13 year-old showing off the results to me today.
This evening I did a repeat of last week’s dinner, hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill, added some marinated veggies, and once again made those 40-minute hamburger buns that have become a favorite of the boys. That was about it for today. Tomorrow morning I have my online physical therapy appointment for my back. The prednisone that I am taking is keeping the pain in control and keeping me moving, but somehow I’m not sure anything has changed. I still get shooting pains with certain movements. I have to take the prednisone for six more days. Once I stop taking that, I’ll find out just how things are doing. But I am just grateful that for now, I am able to do most things without too much pain.
2020 Life Logs, Day 136: Kayaking, Marsh Mucking, and Car Wash
Date: Saturday, May 16, 2020
Weather: Mostly Sunny and Warm; High 64, Low 45 degrees F
Location: At Home in Cottage, East Falmouth, MA
Another busy day here. When you wind up a music box, it plays really fast at first and then gets slower and slower. My last two days have been the opposite. I have started both days by going on a walk with Shadow and then sitting outside having my morning smoothie in the bright sunshine and playing ball with Shadow. Slow and easy and delightful. Then this morning I sped up a little and transplanted tomato seedlings to larger containers. Slow and easy. I called the Feed and Garden Center that is nearby and paid for eight bags of compost to put around the raspberries and a 50-foot soaker hose to wind between them. I then went to pick those things up. Then I realized it was past noon and that Sam and friends would be coming to kayak soon. Time to speed up. I talked to Heather to get the updated plan. One friend hurt him arm in a biking accident and was not coming, but Sam’s friend Robert would be arriving at 2 pm. I hurried over to pick up the Goldpebbles, went over the rules for social distancing that Heather and Jed had already gone over. I just wanted to make sure the boys were clear that Sam and Robert would be using the dock to launch their kayaks and the rest of us would be engaged in other activities. Robert and his mother arrived, and Grace seemed interested in staying to watch the kayaking. Fantastic. That would relieve me of that oversight and I could engage in activities with Jonah and Ollie. Grace explained that other than a trip to the grocery store in the past two months, she has basically not been off their property and the thought of sitting on a dock in the sunshine sound like a real treat. This was Robert’s first trip out in two months and he and Sam were so happy to see each other.
I went down to the dock with Grace to explain the lay of the land. The dock is on my landlady Shirley’s property, so I wanted to make sure Grace was comfortable there before I headed back to my yard to go find the marsh muckers.
Jonah and Ollie had gotten out onto island that you can get to by going through the woods on the water side of my house. They both had on their new chest high waders and had already discovered fiddler craps and found a dead fish by the time I got there. Shadow was with me and when he saw the boys out on the island, he went flying through the marsh, jumping over hummocks of cord grass and then falling into muddy sections to get to them. Cute. But, oh my. His underside was caked in marsh mud. I didn’t realize the extent at the time and thought spraying him off a bit with the hose would do the trick. But as I found out this evening, it took two different 30-minute baths to get rid of the caked mud and he still smells a bit like a marsh. So, one smelly dog and the fact that Jonah managed to sit down in the water and fill his waders with water were the casualties of the day, but otherwise, it was a totally delightful afternoon. Sam and Robert were out for about two hours, so Ollie, Jonah, and I had time to wash my car. And after Robert left, Sam even had time to get the eight bags of compost out of the back of my car. Work and play and a lot of fun.
At 4:30 I had to really speed up to get the Goldpebbles home and get back in time for my 5 pm Zoom call with my dining-in group. I tried, but I’m afraid I was 15 minutes late for the Zoom check in. We are either going to have to start our Zoom gatherings a little later, or I am going to have to start shutting down my activities earlier. This reverse wind-up music box is just getting into high gear by 5 pm when others are winding down.
2020 Life Logs, Day 135: Afternoon Fun with Shadow and Goldpebbles
Date: Friday, May 15, 2020
Weather: Rain Overnight, Then Out Came the Sun; High 62, Low 55 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Cottage, East Falmouth, MA
I’m so tired tonight that I can’t even remember what I did this morning! It was overcast and wet out early, so puttered about until about 10:30 am when the sun came out. That’s when I took a mile-long walk with Shadow. And I did hear from Jed after his trip to the supermarket and I ordered things Jed was not able to get from Rory’s, the little organic market in Mashpee, to be delivered in the afternoon. And all of a sudden it was time to head over to pick up the Goldpebbles. They were coming over to do some work for me and to go kayaking. I messed up and didn’t get the mulch that I wanted Sam to put around the raspberries, but he will return once I do get the mulch and do that. I had a kayak challenge for the boys and that was our first order of business. Normally I only allow them to kayak where I can see them, but this afternoon the tide was right to have them venture out of sight to a place that I could walk to with Shadow. I could actually keep an eye on them by looking between the houses on the water along our route. They all made it just fine and enjoyed the longer kayak adventure.
They also enjoyed the adventures with Shadow. They wanted him to go with them in Sam’s kayak and we did give it a try. Shadow got into Sam’s kayak from the dock, but just wouldn’t sit down. So, we decided that maybe he is not quite ready and got Shadow back on the dock . Sam took off to mess about while Jonah and Ollie got ready to launch. While I was helping them, Shadow went to visit the dock next door and when Jonah paddled by there, he went over to say hello to Shadow . . . who jumped into his kayak. But again, he wouldn’t settle down, so I got him back on that dock. The same thing happened to Ollie, but this time Shadow jumped into the water. Thankfully, he started swimming but immediately went to the dock, put his paws up on the dock, and held on for dear life. I had to go down on the lower dock to rescue him. While Jonah and Ollie pushed him upward, I was able to pull him up on the dock. If this sounds like a three-ring circus to you, you are definitely right. But we were all having a great time and Shadow seemed unscathed by the water experience.
While messing about, Sam found what I think are Clam Worms (Nereis virens) swimming in the water. I had to do some research to figure this out. It turns out that the Clam Worm has a very unique reproductive cycle. From late March to June, it undergoes heterogenesis. Its body changes and the parapodia (the short limbs) enlarge so it can swim and it is capable of releasing eggs and sperm. It looks like a swimming millipede. The worms swim in breeding swarms. Soon after they release their eggs or sperm, they die. Sam brought one over to the dock on his kayak so I could see it and then the boys were off on their adventure and a very wet puppy and I walked as fast as we could down to the kayakers’ destination point.
There is a neighborhood boat launching beach less than half mile down the street where the Eel River splits in two directions. From this point, you see all the way out to the Sound, so I wanted the boys to become familiar with what we will use as a meeting point as they venture further out on future kayak trips. All three boys made it just fine and then we reversed and headed home.
Sam then launched into a one-hour work session that turned into two hours. He wanted to make a little money and there were things I wanted him to do that I just can’t do right now. He lugged more bags of organic cow manure and garden soil out of the back of my car and enlarged a gardening area for me that I am going to use as a butterfly garden. He also used the hatchet to trim limbs that I keep running into when walking in the woods by the house with Shadow and to cut down some very small trees that are in the walking path. He is a good worker and I really enjoyed spending the time with him. Ollie was going to wash my car, but by the time we got back from kayaking, the sun was going down behind the trees and it felt too cool for such a wet activity. I encouraged him to wait until tomorrow when it is supposed to be a few degrees warmer and he agreed. He then headed straight to the hammock to keep reading his book. Two nights ago he decided that he no longer needed anyone to read chapter books to him. So for two days he has been reading constantly.
When I arrived to pick them up this afternoon, I couldn’t find Ollie. Then he popped up out of the window seat hidey hole in his new room with his book in hand. Then he escaped to the new hammock seats that hang down from the deck with Jonah. Lots of hidey holes at 43 Grasmere. Ollie was hiding so he could keep reading his book from The Guardians of Ga’hoole series.. It is a fantasy series about owls. He and Heather read books 1, 2, and part of 3, and then he took off on his own. But back to afternoon activities at The Cottage, Jonah spent some time inside playing the games Ziggy published and then he and Ollie played Corn Hole. They eventually adapted the game to include someone swinging in the hammock as the “hole”. Another three-ring circus act. Sam finished his work afternoon by giving Shadow a bath. Bending over the tub to scrub a puppy is just not what my back wants to do right now, but I didn’t want him smelling like a marsh. Sam came to the rescue. We then left a wet puppy while I took them home. Heather is contemplating getting Sam together with two very close friends (friends of Sam whose parents are friends of Heather and Jed’s) for a kayaking afternoon tomorrow. None of the boys have been with any friends since the middle of March, but kayaking seems like a great activity where keeping a proper physical distance is easy. Of course, it is taking a chance, but we can’t keep these kids in isolation all summer. As long as activities can take place outside using social distancing, I think we are going to have to move slowly and carefully in that direction. I have offered to oversee that outing. The boys are old enough that they will not need my help. I can keep a good distance and still ensure their safety. In preparation, however, I had better get off here and get some sleep to be ready for another active afternoon.
2020 Life Logs, Day 134: Another Beautiful Day
Date: Thursday, May 14, 2020
Weather: Sunny and a Little Warmer; High 57, Low 48 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Cottage, East Falmouth, MA
Wow! Two blue-sky days in a row and today was just a little warmer than yesterday. What a treat. We are expecting rain overnight but it should end in the morning and then the afternoon is forecast to be partly sunny and even warmer. I’m hoping that forecast is correct. If so, I have invited the Goldpebbles over for a kayaking afternoon. It is also a grocery shopping day. Jed is going to do the shopping this week and I will order what he can’t get at the grocery store from Rory’s, the organic market in Mashpee.
I started my morning in the chiropractor’s office and hurried home for a Newcomers monthly meeting on Zoom. This was the first full meeting attempted on Zoom. It worked great, but the number of members attending was certainly less than it would have been were it a face-to-face meeting. The speaker was a Newcomer member who works in the area of artificial intelligence. Very informative.
Friend Karen Baranowski is leaving the Newcomers Board as Activity Vice-President, so I invited her over afterwards to sit in the yard with proper social distancing and have a celebratory tea party. Shadow joined us, sitting on Karen’s lap half the time, and we all had a great time in the sunshine. Before we knew it, it was 2 o’clock and time to get ready for the next activity. When I got inside, I got a call from Heather asking if I happened to know where to find the things Oliver took off his dresser when they were moving. Ollie put those things in a plastic box and stored it in my basement and I did know exactly where it was. He was desperate for a pair of socks with violins on them that he thought were on his dresser. I went down to the basement, found those socks, and offered to deliver them. I think maybe he wanted to wear them for his Zoom violin lesson this afternoon. But for whatever reason, I made the delivery and got back just in time for the last Newcomers Technology Tips class of the year. It was another Zoom class, which meant sitting inside, but it was worth staying inside because it was a good class on special tips for use on your smart phone. Once that was over, Shadow and I went for a long walk. By the time we got home, it was time to fix dinner. I didn’t get any gardening in today. Maybe tomorrow. But it was a delightful day in the life.
2020 Life Logs, Day 133: Enjoying a Beautiful Spring Day
Date: Wednesday, May 13, 2020
Weather: Sunny, Cape Cod Blue Sky Day; High 53, Low 40 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Cottage, East Falmouth, MA
Today was one of those cloudless, Cape Cod blue sky days. No matter what the temperature, I love those days, but we haven’t seen many of them recently. Today was a treat. It was still windy and not super warm, but a light jacket was all that was needed. However, I’m not ready to put my winter coat away. When I get up at 6 am for a puppy potty break, it is cold outside and the winter coat feels just right before the sun has time to warm things up. I spent my morning going to the Falmouth Hospital to get the x-ray and blood test my Primary Care ordered on Monday. The blood test has nothing to do with my back issue, but he felt that since I had to go to the hospital for the x-ray, I might as well get my mid-year blood test at the same time. The hospital experience was okay, just a bit disconcerting. As you enter, your temperature is taken and then you have to walk past a security guard before you get to the registration desk. It was taped off with yellow police tape so you couldn’t get too close. Procedures are mainstreamed and the blood test taken almost immediately. I only had to wait five minutes for the x-ray. They don’t want people undressing to get gowns on, so you just push clothing with snaps and zippers up or down to get them out of the x-ray area. Fast and easy and out of there! On the way home, I stopped by the drug store drive-up window to pick up the prescription for prednisone that my doctor wants me to take. I resist taking medications, but he got me to agree to do this for 10 days to try and relieve the inflammation. And when I got home, I got a call from a third physical therapy possibility. The doctor had told me to contact whomever I wanted, but he evidently made a referral for me as well, and I decided to go with his choice. My online assessment will scheduled and the online therapy sessions will begin next week. In the meantime, I continue to walk and do the sciatica stretches and use those ice packs. This morning was my toughest morning yet, but magically in the afternoon, I was much better. Could the prednisone I took at 11 am work that fast? Feeling like everything that can be done is being done, I put the health issue out of mind and turned to other interests.
In the afternoon, I listened to part of webinar about preserving food hosted by my favorite garden expert, Stacy Murphy. If I heard her right, something like 40 per cent of the food we all buy at the grocery store is never eaten. We either don’t get it cooked before it goes bad or we fix the food and forget to eat the leftovers. Certainly happens to me each week. I hope I don’t waste 40 per cent, but she had a great suggestion to help keep track of what’s in your fridge. She is suggesting that every Sunday when you are doing meal planning for the week (something else she really believes in) you take everything out of your refrigerator and assess what needs to be eaten right away so that can be factored into your weekly plan. If you have children, she believes they should be a part of this process, so you use the kids to empty the fridge and then, with oversight, they put things back in. That way, everyone knows where things are. She suggests that if there are greens that going bad that you dehydrate them to snack on over time. Onions and peppers can be cut up and put in the freezer and other veggies can be put in jars and fermented. I’m going to give this Sunday clean-out and meal planning a try and see if I can reduce the amount of food I throw out. I was doing some baking during this webinar to use up the bananas that were getting a bit too ripe, so I felt good about that. I was then going to watch the Woods Hole Research Center Wednesday afternoon webinar that Heather hosts, but when I went to the Zoom site I was reminded that the program is NEXT Wednesday. I missed the fact that the webinars are now going to be every other week. The program on meltdown and unruly tropical storms is next Wednesday, May 20. Go to https://whrc.org/spring-series/ to sign up for the WHRC webinars. But since there was not a new one today, it gave me the opportunity to watch one of the past webinars that I tried to watch a couple of weeks ago when the Goldpebbles were here. I missed much of it and really wanted the information as it was a program on how our backyard choices impact the environment. It was a very informative webinar and I spent time checking out the National Wildlife Foundation’s Native Plant Finder that was referenced in the webinar. Fantastic tool.
Then, finally, I got outside with Shadow to do an assessment of my yard. Actually, I have very little yard as The Cottage is surrounded on three sides with woods. My backyard and is mostly moss up to the edge of the woods. On the roadside, there is a narrow strip of moss and then woods. And on the water side there is grassy area just outside the back door that leads into the woods. The forest floor on that side is covered with vinca and lily of the valley dotted right now with grape hyacinth and jonquils. There were daffodils earlier and there will be tulips soon if the rabbits don’t eat them all. As you walk down the hill toward the water on the little path Ollie made for me, you come to the marsh and a strip of land jutting out of the forest and into the water that the Goldpebbles call Cottage Point. Shadow and I spent a long time on Cottage Point today and he explored the marsh and tested the water with his paws. He decided not to go for a swim, maybe because his test told him the water is just still too cold. Back to assessing the yard. I definitely have mostly woods with small areas in front for my raised beds. If I add ornamental plants outside the raised beds, I will make sure they are natives from this point forward. We recently added the red raspberries which are most likely native to Europe, but we’ll pretend ours are native North American red raspberries! Besides, they are not ornamentals. They are edibles. Shadow and I then came back to the front porch where I added potting soil to yogurt containers that I will fill with tomato seedings that are outgrowing their seed starter trays. I hope to do a little more outdoor gardening tomorrow.
I ended my day with another webinar. This was a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Ocean Encounters program on sharks. Last week I watched their program on shipwrecks and I have really enjoyed both. If you are interested in watching past webinars or signing up for upcoming ones, go to https://www.whoi.edu/ocean-encounters/ .
Speaking of ocean encounters, Windbird entered the Hudson River on Monday, sailed past the Statue of Liberty, went up the East River, and docked at her new home on City Island in the Bronx. Sam and Dawn chose this location because as they sail out from their dock, they are immediately in the Long Island Sound and can easily enjoy the days sailing when Sam is not flying. They chose to live in New York City before COVID times, as Sam would be close to the Delta Airlines bases at JFK and LaGuardia. Who knows how much he will get to fly in the next year, so he might have more summer and fall days sailing than flying. They arrived in NYC on Monday and Sam immediately took a bus to the airport and flew back to Florida to pick up their truck. He planned to leave Florida last evening and head north. I’ll be anxious to hear that he made it back to the city safely for the second time in four days.
2020 Life Logs, Day 132: Book Club Day and More
Date: Tuesday, May 12, 2020
Weather: Partly Sunny; High 53, Low 38 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Cottage, East Falmouth, MA
The thermometer this morning read the same as yesterday morning, so I put on my winter coat and hat to take the dog out for a walk. I immediately had to come back inside and change into a lighter weight jacket and get rid of the hat. The sunshine and the lack of high winds made it feel much warmer this morning despite what the thermometer said. But despite the lovely weather, I had to get back inside to get ready for my 11 am Book Club meeting on Zoom. After the meeting, I ran some errands. I drove over to Bruce and Jane Woodin’s to pick up something, drove through town to fill my car’s very empty gas tank, dropped a couple of early voting ballot requests in the mailbox of a Book Club member, and then headed home for a late lunch and a long afternoon walk with Shadow. A long walk right now for me just means one mile. Hopefully when I get my ‘back’ issue under control, those walks will increase in length. But for now, a mile is good once a day, with two half mile walks spaced out at different times during the day. The more I research, the more I think my issue is not my back, but something called Piriformis Syndrome. I had never heard of this, but in researching stretching exercises to do for sciatica, I learned that sciatica is usually caused by one of four things, Piriformis Syndrome being one of those. This is usually caused due to compression or contraction of the piriformis muscle on certain areas of the sciatic nerve caused by overuse or trauma. The overuse in my case was carrying heavy boxes during the move. I was constantly told by Heather and Jed to stop carrying the boxes, but I refused to listen. I really must become a better listener! But I didn’t, and here I am. As I understand it, the piriformis muscle runs down through the buttock on both sides of your body and the sciatic nerve runs along with it. When the muscle gets inflamed, it swells and puts pressure on the sciatic nerve and you get excruciating pain. The good thing is that if this is my problem, the right stretches or exercises can alleviate the pain. I was assuming I had a disc misalignment causing undue pressure on a nerve, but when the visits to the chiropractor weren’t working, the chiropractor suggested I look into other causes. Finding out about Pitiformis Syndrome is making so much sense to me. If that is the problem, it is why this back issue has been so different from others I have had. In talking with my primary care physician yesterday, I learned that there are hoops that I have to jump through for insurance purposes before I can get an MRI that would reveal the problem. My PCP asked me to decide where I would like to have physical therapy because that is one of the Medicare prerequisites. I made calls yesterday and left messages but didn’t hear back from the two places until today. The physical therapist that I used prior to my knee surgery was excellent, but if I choose him, I have to go the office and have one-on-one hour-long sessions. I know they would be helpful, but right now I am not comfortable doing that. I also called the Falmouth Hospital Outpatient Rehab center and they do online sessions. So, I am choosing that one for now. Tomorrow morning I go to the hospital to get the required x-ray and blood test. Thankfully there are zero COVID patients at the hospital right now. Then I wait ten days, talk to my PCP again, and hope the problem has either gone away or I can get an MRI to see what is going on. But I must say that I am impressed with how the medical community is adapting during COVID. Zoom meetings with a physician worked great and I’ll soon find out if physical therapy sessions on Zoom are effective. I am very thankful for Zoom, Skype, and any other online method you might use to keep in touch with family and friends, work from home, take classes, and take care of medical issues. A whole new world.
2020 Life Logs, Day 131: Still Wearing My Winter Coat
Date: Monday, May 11, 2020
Weather: Partly Sunny, Rain in the Afternoon; High 54, Low 41 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Cottage, East Falmouth, MA
I’m still wearing my winter coat and I’m still struggling with the sciatic pain in my back and hips, but I am hoping the weather will soon warm up a bit and that I will get this pain under control. I had a 4 pm Zoom meeting with my primary care physician and he reiterated what my chiropractor told me. Getting Medicare to pay for an MRI is not easy. It is going to mean first getting an x-ray and physical therapy. If those things don’t solve the problem, then I might get the referral. I certainly don’t want to go to get physical therapy, but evidently, after an initial meeting of some sort, the physical therapy can be done through Zoom. I will try these things and hope that at our next meeting in ten days, I can get the referral for the MRI. Then I can at least know what is causing the problem. In the meantime, the sciatica stretches and exercises and my walks with Shadow help, along with icing every couple of hours. I do hope this too shall pass as it truly is a pain in the . . .
Heather reported this morning that she is feeling a bit better, but then she pointed out that she is doing only what is absolutely necessary for survival. Today when I heard the President say that anyone that wants a coronavirus test can get one, I just rolled my eyes and shook my head. Not so. It could be that anyone that a doctor says needs one might be able to get one, but just having symptoms doesn’t do it here on the Cape. You have to have symptoms and be ‘old’ and have underlying conditions. So, Heather could not get one. Hopefully she can continue to curb her normal activity level for another week and will then be fine. That is my hope.
The sun was shining this morning and the extreme wind we had this weekend was under control, so I took Shadow outside and let him run around while I sat at one of my outdoor tables and threw tennis balls for him to fetch. I have never been able to get him to bring the ball back to me, so I usually throw one and then throw a second one. He drops the first one and goes after the second one. I walk to pick up the first one and then throw it. But my back did not feel like walking early this morning, so I tried giving him treats if he would bring the ball back to me. This worked about 80 per cent of the time. Yay! I got to sit and enjoy the sunshine and Shadow got a good work out. Win, win. Later in the morning, after more stretches and exercises, I was able to walk a half mile with him, and this afternoon we had our mile-long walk. The only other activities I attempted today were to get ready for my Book Club Zoom meeting tomorrow morning and to plant Matt’s Wild Cherry tomato seeds and some zucchini. It is a little late, but they will get a head start inside and will be planted outside in early June. I keep thinking I will get the basement reorganized, but I am very successful in finding ways to procrastinate. Maybe tomorrow.
After talking to Jo yesterday, I got a couple of photos from her showing the transformation of Finca Maravilla since Hurricane Maria. Both photos were taken from the front of their house looking up the drive-way. After Maria, the were no leaves on the trees and everything looked brown and stripped. The transformation of that one little section of their property is amazing. Jo has put in a hillside garden and nature has put leaves back on the trees. A friend from New Hampshire wrote this morning saying that she read an article this weekend written by a couple who just spent a month in Puerto Rico and were pressing for statehood in order for Puerto Rico to survive. That may or may not be the answer, but I am so pleased that Justin and Jo have been able to keep their little corner of paradise going strong. I know it is not always easy. Still there are times when they have no electricity or no water, but they persist. I am so proud of how they have improved their little farm.