Growing Things

On Friday we planted new pentas, vincas, coleus, and marigolds. Daughter and her fiance helped MUCH. We left a lot of the old flowers, although they were a bit leggy, mainly because of the cost and also because we have been so busy that we didn’t have time to do more.

When the pandemic began, I was eager to be a pioneer woman and even froze eggs and lemons in case we had a shortage. Now I am very ragged around the edges, having been overworked by all the dealings with the government and business-in-the-time-of-coronavirus. I am used to always being busy, usually thrive on it, and yet I will say that I am too exhausted at this point. And I don’t see a letup. Plus, when I get this tired, my legs and feet swell miserable (from my primary lymphedema). That aggravates my “hip-leg.” I have a painful condition with my left leg up near the groin that I refer to as my hip-leg. It feels like a twisting nerve and is particularly and suddenly painful when I put my foot down on the ground. The swelling makes it worse. And the exhaustion and work-work-work makes it worser yet.

But I don’t have the virus. And neither does my family. And my kitties are a lot of work, but so cute. And I have new flowers. So there you go.

We also have lizards galore this year. And the quail couple with their single file of bobbing babies. You see, I can keep finding cool stuff to distract myself!

My friend who wrote this very popular essay years ago (Lake Erie) teaches creative writing to seniors. Because of the pandemic, her classes now are on Zoom, and my mom is taking one! I am so happy she is doing so because it’s good for her to interact with others, although it’s on phone Zoom (no video) and not in person. Also, she is a reporter for the community newspaper (used to be an editor for it), but with the pandemic she can’t interview people in person. My mother’s community has a big apartment complex, a nursing home, an assisted living, a rehab facility, and garden homes (duplexes). She lives in a garden home, so she has more space and more freedom than if she lived in one of the other buildings.

I call my mother regularly, but it’s hard to find new things to talk about when you’re not out doing new stuff! And she’s not going to doctors or seeing friends, so she doesn’t have that to talk about. She does read my genealogy blog The Family Kalamazoo, so that makes her happy because I am almost always yapping about her family. Most recently I’ve been working on my 3x great-grandfather who was a “prosperous celery farmer” (according to his obit) in Kalamazoo. I had no idea when I was growing up there that my ancestor was one of the farmers who raised Kalamazoo’s “famous” crop. The thing that interested me most about him was discovering that as a widower he married and divorced a woman after he immigrated to the U.S. It almost looks like he married her so she would help raise his six children. I wonder what he discovered he didn’t like. How I would love to see the divorce papers! I have all kinds of fictional scenarios popping up in my head.

When I was growing up, my dad planted a plum tree in our backyard in Michigan. He used to take pix of us next to the tree, watching the tree and us kids growing, I guess. After my father passed away five years ago (last Thursday), my mom had a plum tree planted on the edge of the woods behind her house at the senior complex.

This weekend I found out I got the Volunteer of the Month award for April at the shelter. Yes, well, so many of the other volunteers couldn’t do their jobs because the shelter has been closed to volunteers for the pandemic. However, my work increased because I make the adoption calls (more adoptions!) and do data entry for those. I also took on the shelter’s Twitter account, which is a challenge right now because just as soon as I get info on a new dog it gets adopted :)! The reason this is occurring is in part because people are stepping up to adopt during this period. But it is also for another reason. Our shelter is a no-kill that functions largely by rescuing e-list dogs from the county kill shelter. (The cats seem to magically appear at our shelter, by the way). Our shelter is only bringing in a limited number of animals because without volunteers, the staff can only take care of just so many hungry mouths.

Take care of yourselves, peeps. If you have Instagram, be sure to check out Bobthewritingcat! That big-hearted curmudgeon makes me happy and teary. As Bob always says, go wash your hands!!!





Filed under #writerlife, #writerslife, Arizona, Family history, Flora, Garden, and Landscape, Memoir, Nonfiction

43 responses to “Growing Things

  1. I’m sorry to hear about your health issues. These times seem to bring them out for everyone. Good for you on the shelter work. Our shelters have closed for volunteers to some extent but some are run solely by volunteers so I’m not sure what they are doing. However I am confident the animals are ok. Good for you mom and I love the plum tree!

    • I imagine that’s true that everybody is up to here with aches and pains right now! The shelters have had to close to volunteers to make it safe because it’s really hard in a shelter to get that social distancing. We are opening back up to volunteers now, but only two at a time and by appt only. Plum trees are wonderful little trees!

  2. I’d love to see a quail family with a single file of bobbing babies! I think our bodies are trying to tell us to take it easy, but that’s not even easy, huh?

    • Oh, they are adorable! The mother leads the way and the father takes the rear and his head moves around as he searches for predators. the babies are all in the middle in a line just like ducklings. And quail mate for life, too.

    • Joy, your comment just triggered a memory of a book my mother loved: That Quail, Robert by Margaret Stanger. I haven’t thought about that book in years.

  3. I do hope your hip itself is OK. Congratulations on the award – even though you sound a bit like me when I used to win the throwing events at school because hardly anyone else entered 🙂

  4. Gosh, it’s hard to believe it’s been five years since your father passed away, Luanne. I remember your post when you let us know. Sorry about your hip. Man, getting old brings out all sorts of weird aches and pains, doesn’t it? I have something going on with my joint in my thumb/wrist area. I can hardly move it. Nice work with the shelter!

    • I can hardly believe it’s been five years. That was the year of the hummingbird babies (twice) in my yard. My father dying. Then my cat Mac dying. What a year.
      It’s not quite my hip. More like the leg way up high. I’m glad it’s probably not the actual hip, but that doesn’t make it hurt less of course haha. I am SO sorry about your thumb! I know exactly where you mean! Arthritis? I know it can be gout, too, but isn’t that for boys? Are you trying to immobilize it with a splint?

  5. You might feel like you don’t have much to share but you do. This is a lovely newsy post and it is good to hear how you are getting on. You’ve also made me wonder how many of us are dealing with aches and pains – and is it a result of the tenseness and concern we have all handled (or not handled) over these past two months. My right wrist is painful. It came from an incident some six weeks ago when I put the lid on my smoothie maker too tight and then had to wrestle it off. But the pain doesn’t ever fully go away. I can ease it by nursing my wrist along carefully for a couple of days and then I will do something – like hold a heavy book to read in bed- and wake up hours later with pain shooting up and down from the wrist. Then a week ago out of the blue while on our morning walk I discovered my right leg quickly flared up painfully from the base of the foot to the right hip and into the centre back. My daughter thinks its sciatica and has to come and rescue me when it becomes so painful I can’t complete my walk -) I think I’m just falling apart and am bored to tears with the whole thing!

    • I don’t think I’m going to “like” this comment. I’m so sorry that you hurt your wrist! And your leg. I know what you mean about bored to tears with it all. It gets to be so frustrating. About your wrist. I just mention this because sometimes hearing other people’s stories helps sorting through one’s own garbage ;). The gardener has something called a SLAC wrist. It’s a completely done-for wrist, usually caused by advanced arthritis coupled with perhaps an old or new injury. I didn’t know such a thing existed. My point is that if you can get xrays or other imaging it might help to know if you are moving along that path or not and how much you should baby that wrist. If you are moving toward SLAC you will want to baby it way more than the gardener has or does. He’s abused it, there is no doubt. SLAC cannot be fixed except that when it’s not bearable any longer they have to surgically fix the wrist so it doesn’t move. So take care of that wrist! I had no idea they were so fragile. About the leg: you and Sarah (below) have made me wonder if my hip-leg is a form of sciatica. I looked it up and it isn’t always a pain in the back of the leg, but can be a pain in the front of the thigh if it stems from L3, rather than L4. Is your leg pain front, back, side, or everywhere? I’m playing doctor today hahahaha. I do thin this pandemic has increased the stress so that it accentuates the underlying aches and pains!

      • Ha,ha! Doctor Luanne 🙂 I have always coped with pain by trying to ignore it until it becomes unbearable. I have been told I have a high pain threshold – though of course how does anybody know what another’s pain feels like? My daughter is a healer and uses her gift to assist where necessary…… but right now it’s just one thing after another! I have a genetic L3 deformity (an extra half bone) which caused me distress as a child and extreme pain as I grew into womanhood. I was told all my life by the medical profession I was exaggerating, imagining, malingering etc and It went undiagnosed until I was 50 when my eagle eyed alternative practitioner read my xray and fixed me in a week. There are valid reasons why I don’t trust allopathic/pharmaceutical medical practitioners or hospitals too much. The sciatic nerve is a great long and complex thing and all kinds of things can go awry with it. Especially as we tend to abuse our backs through poor posture and less movement as we age. Currently I have no issues when I am sitting, or generally moving/working around the house. As soon as I set off on my morning and evening walk the discomfort starts, in the bottom outside of the foot, progresses up the calf, rips into the groin and hip and seizes up from there. Sometimes I have to call for help and sometimes I can get home by taking rest stops which eases the situation quickly and allows me to begin moving again. I probably need to have Bowen treatment or a visit to the Osteopath. I think the wrist is just strained. I’ve been rubbing it with essential oil mixtures and keeping it strapped which is helping. It’s a case of being careful at the moment. Definitely getting better though. Patience has never been my strong suit when it comes to pain 🙂 I hope you can get yourself a good diagnosis for your problem. And then find the right practitioner to fix you!

  6. First off I hope your hip-leg eases. That cannot be fun. I liked the plum tree story. I can imagine that tree will give your mom a lot of pleasure. Enjoyed the flower photos as well. Congrats on the volunteer award. You deserve it.

    • Thank you, John, about the leg and the award! The stationery bike definitely makes it worse for now, so I have a good excuse there ;). My mom gets a real kick out of that tree. She knows she can walk there to see it, whereas my dad is buried in the military cemetery in the next town so she can’t really drive there any longer by herself. She goes when my brother takes her. I’m glad you liked the flowers!!!

  7. Oh, I love the vibrant new flowers! AND I really love your mother is taking a zoom class. I think it’s difficult enough to be young or mid-age and start zooming around, so I’m really happy when the little-bit-more-than-mid-age take on new technology. Congrats on your volunteer award. I know the animals especially appreciate all you do for them.

  8. The flowers–and the plum trees–are beautiful. I hope you find time and space to rest and re-energize!

  9. The flowers look lovely, Luanne. And it’s sounds like you are doing sterling work despite the lockdown… I’m probably teaching you to suck eggs, but have you used a TENS machine for your leg-hip problem? I use just a small one I bought for £40 for intractable sciatica which paid for itself in the first month. I was suddenly able to walk without pain for the first time in nearly a decade and I’ve used it since on all sorts of aches and pains and it usually does the trick.

    • Sarah, between you and Pauline, you got me wondering. Maybe my hip-leg is sciatica. I never considered it because I thought sciatica went down the back of the leg. But I googled it and apparently if it stems from the L3 it can cause pain down the front of the thigh! So then I researched this TENS machine. Wow! I might ask for one from my kids for my birthday. Going to read up a bit more, but it sounds promising! Thank you so much for letting me know about it!!!

      • Most of the sciatic pain was around my hip, my buttock and sometimes down the front of my thigh. It moves around quite a lot, depending on exactly what part of the nerve gets pinched. Do give a TENS machine a go – I know only too well just how miserable the pain is… I describe it as toothache in the hip!

  10. I was touched by the plum tree tradition. I love the photo of your dad, brother, and dog. Sending good thoughts your way that your leg pain gets better soon.

  11. Aches and pains are a nuisance, but compared to the virus I suppose we have nothing to complain about.

  12. Wonderful post, Luanne – you are the Energizer Bunny of the Pandemic – that is the award I’m giving you this month!
    I am always amazed at what you accomplish while I fiddleleede in South Carolina – you go, girl!!

  13. Sorry about your health issues, Luanne. But it certainly sounds like you are keeping busy!
    I’m glad your mother is in her own garden style place, and that she is keeping busy, as well. It sounds like you actually do have a lot to talk to her about. 😀
    That plum tree is a lovely remembrance for your dad. My dad also died in May (but over 20 years ago).
    I hope your hip-leg pain disappears quickly!

  14. I know what you mean about having trouble finding stuff to talk about. My mom and I have been playing Yahtzee: we each have score sheets and dice, and we put our phones on speaker and sort of narrate our turns. My mom really enjoys it – we play three times a week! We chit-chat as we play, which takes a lot of pressure off the conversation. If Yahtzee isn’t your thing, maybe you can find something else.
    Congratulations on being named Volunteer of the Month! You put so much of your heart into your work at the shelter; it’s a well-deserved honor.

  15. Sorry to hear about your physical discomforts. I know what a drag that can be. We have a ton of lizards here, too. And I discovered swallows nesting near the house the other day. Thank goodness for flowers, too!

  16. Amy

    Your garden is beautiful! And congrats on the Volunteer of the Month designation. Sorry to hear about your leg/hip.

    And I have the same problem finding things to talk about with my mother, exacerbated by the fact that she is in assisted living and has dementia… How many ways can you talk about the weather and what was for lunch?

  17. Sorry to hear of your pains, Luanne! Ay yi! Flowers & lizards & kitties offer a bit of distraction I suppose! I can relate to the shelter dogs being adopted so quickly; the same situation up here too! I wonder if it’s Covid-related – must be somehow. Or summer coming? Not sure, but I’m happy for the doggies!!
    Congrats on your volunteerism reward!

    • I think it is because so many people have been home from work and maybe it’s something they have wanted to do and couldn’t make time for it before. Plus some of them really want to help.

  18. *award! (eye roll)! Lol.

  19. Congrats on the volunteer award! That’s pretty cool. Years ago I got one when I was a volunteer at a battered woman’s shelter. I kept it for years but then the ink faded so eventually you couldn’t tell what it was for 😉 And you do have cool things to talk/write about!

  20. 24 May 2020

    Luanne, it’s taken me too long to write a missive to you. Time has become a ghostly illusion, contracting and expanding without notice. And yet it is now Day 75 of staying at home. Time always has been a source of mystery, and the current state of our country and the world has emphasized its peculiar hold on me. Days are foggy and clear, and some are more worthy than others. My garden remains muse and sanctuary, and certainly a tinkerer of time’s passage.

    Throughout the last few years I have read your blog, and only devote my attention to those sites that tug at my heartstrings. I thoroughly enjoy reading about your universe and work, and was especially moved by the content of “Growing Things.” You are to be commended for how you are maneuvering through the days and nights of this historic and troubling period in the human condition.

    As nature allows me to escape into quietude and solace, I can see how essential the natural world is to your well being. You’ve created your signature on your space, and I’m sure that it gives you comfort in these extraordinary times.

    Being at home for two and a half months seems unimaginable. For weeks I’ve been intending to write you, and that fact staggers my thoughts. Your current blog post pushed the synapses for me to “just do it.” The mention of your family genealogy blog (The Family Kalamazoo, I was unaware of its existence) was a strong force for me to compose this email.

    For over a decade I have been working on a hybrid nonfiction manuscript. I completed it a few months ago. On that journey I’ve had the eyes of five readers, including a professor who has given me his attention to mentor my path through various forms of the manuscript. It is a composite of nonfiction including memoir, autobiography, poetry, mapmaking, photographs, travel, genealogy, nature writing, and spiritual writing. My mentor refers to the manuscript of 80+ pages as a continuum, where time does not flow in one direction, but shifts within narratives and maps lives on my maternal family tree. It’s a commentary on memory, place and time, and how ancestors and the past can influence the present even at a distance.

    My mentor decided that it was time for me to research publishing houses (small presses) to submit the manuscript for publication. After making an initial list of presses whose mission seemed to parallel the content of my work, I discovered that your poems had been published through one of my top ten choices. And even more strangely, Devil’s Party Press is located in the southern county of my state. That was in mid-February as the health crisis began to tell another chapter of human history.

    This background is meant to set the stage for a few questions about your process to find a publisher and to work with Devil’s Party Press. I’m hoping that your experiences and insights will give me fuel to navigate the difficult terrain of publishing.

    I have an extensive resume (been retired since 2009; I’m an educator and retired from higher education; my last position was working in Special Collections at a university library.) including almost twenty years in higher education, editing a national arts publication, publication of two books in the arts, publication of short pieces in various formats, and the publication of an article in a history journal.

    Could you give me an overview of your process to submit your work to various venues? Can you give me suggestions from your own experiences? Can you provide insights into your experiences working with those at Devil’s Party Press?

    Since the world has reduced its trajectory many fold, it is harder than hard to believe that three months have evaporated since I allowed this project to begin to marinate. Now I am ready to start the next phase, and write an abstract and letter of submission. Knowing that everything is changing and will never be as it was, finally I am in the mental space to carry on. Hopefully, little by little the world will recover and spin at a syncopated cadence.

    I hope that I am not imposing. What I do know is that we share an enormous passion and reverence for Mother Nature and family history. My manuscript took over fifteen years to research, to meander through iterations, to find a format, and to tie the pieces of separate narratives into one storyline. Now I’d like to share the story—a story that is unique and yet universal to American history.

    The creation of the manuscript was a journey of love and tears, one that I am sure you understand. I appreciate your consideration about my request. Happy gardening, and be well and safe, Sally W. Donatello

    Lens and Pens by Sally

    On Mon, May 18, 2020 at 8:21 AM Luanne Castle’s Writer Site wrote:

    > Luanne posted: “On Friday we planted new pentas, vincas, coleus, and > marigolds. Daughter and her fiance helped MUCH. We left a lot of the old > flowers, although they were a bit leggy, mainly because of the cost and > also because we have been so busy that we didn’t have tim” >

  21. Luanne, you are such a busy bee. Freezing eggs! First time I hear of this. Also, bravo for your volunteer work at the animal shelter. They are lucky to have you -humans and animals. 🙂

    • Aw, thank you, Carol! I’ve never frozen eggs before because I never worried about not having them when I needed them. But you can freeze them for baking and some types of cooking, although maybe not for an omelet :).

  22. What a great title for this post, nonjudgmental of all the different types of things growing in your life. Your flowers are beautiful, and I love the plum tree. Congrats on the volunteer of the month–seems like even more of a honor given the pandemic. No matter how futile it is, I do wish you rest and calmness from the chaos.

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