Well, now that I check back, it has been a really long time -- more than a month -- since I've posted here. Unlike lots of you whom I read, it isn't about spending more time on Facebook. For me, it's about summer, travel, and being sick. This could be fairly long, and I have lots of pictures. Be prepared. Here are only a couple that were from General Convention in California:
The convention center was huge, though I'll admit I didn't venture above the ground floor. There was a huge escalator that looked four stories high, but I admit I was halfway intimidated by a recent television show I watched when a large escalator fell, a woman was trapped in a mob of falling people, and nearly had herself shredded. Think giant, multi-story shredder of humans. Now I'm sure I would have ridden it, or found an elevator, if I had been sufficiently motivated. But it seemed there was more than I could handle on the first floor. I loved our sign, though -- so typical of the Episcopal Church -- our shield, which is recognized by all Episcopalians, and the words, "welcomes you," which embodies what we're about as Episcopalians, I hope. Then there was this shot:
This was the Hilton, immediately perpendicular to one end of the Convention Center, where we were lucky enough to get to stay. It was a very good place to stay, even though I was glad to get home to breathing real, outdoor air after two weeks of very little of that. Still, I'm grateful for such luxurious and convenient accommodations, since most of the rest of our deputation were also in the Hilton, and most especially the Bishop, in whose suite we met each day for lunch.
It actually wasn't very hard to adjust to seeing palm trees everywhere -- I guess at home, here on the Cumberland Plateau, I'm not that far from South Carolina, where I also get to see palm trees. The weather, though, was delightful.
Now I came home from Anaheim, and tried to catch up on all I missed in the 14 days I was gone. I also had a sermon to write on the Saturday night I arrived home. The sermon part wasn't hard, though, because I knew I could talk about what happened at General Convention. People like to hear about the larger church, and also what I've been up to while I was gone from them. But then there was (were?) two weeks' of mail and business to accomplish in a week, before I left again for a vacation in Buffalo.
Then I went to see my friend Cheryl's new house. Well, it's new to her, but it was actually built right near the turn of the century. It's a lovely double, with a luxurious first-floor flat (with reliable tenants), an even more beautiful second-floor flat, where Cheryl lives, after considerable work, and an unfinished third floor "servants' quarters" residence with plumbing already installed, where it's my fantasy that I'll live out the summers of my retirement. It's a true classic, great neighborhood, well-preserved woodwork and fireplace, etc. There's a huge front porch, wide as the house, and with sturdy awning framework in place (no canvas awning yet). Here's a beautiful shot or two of the front porch:
The leaves on the awning framework are fake -- and interspersed with tiny white lights. When Cheryl explained it all to me, she said, "It reminded me of the rooftop patio in Naples, where we drank that bottle of wine and talked. And yes, I could see it clearly. I don't care what they look like to others (though my stubborn Sicilian friend, Cheryl's partner Tom, did grudgingly admit they were "nice"), darn it, when I sat out there with her, I could remember being in Naples (where I'll be again in 4 weeks!). You see the three beautiful flower boxes -- this photo shows only half of the beautiful front deck. We were aiming, in late Buffalo Summer, for the effect of Venice, where the flowerboxes were abundantly overflowing wherever we went. I planted one, to help Cheryl get started, then she planted another FIVE all by herself, and they were all beautiful. I am grateful for this vacation. I loved seeing Cheryl, and her beautiful new house. We even had a few days at the lake, which I also love. What I didn't love was coming down with bronchitis while I was there. I got to sit at that lovely table you see every morning, drinking coffee, writing in my journal, just enjoying the great outdoors of a city I love. But within two days I had developed a cough (allergies, they said), and before long, I was awake at night, coughing my lungs out. Whatever caused it, I managed to let it get bad enough to make me really sick. The vacation was a disappointment to both of us, I think, because usually I'm eager to go and see and do, or at least to stay up late enjoying one another's company. But I spent a lot of this week in bed, or on the sofa.
The drive home was also miserable, and I'm a great lover of driving. I was so sick that I felt absolutely unsafe. When I came home I encountered a whole series of disappointments in a minor scale, and when I finally saw my doctor on the following Monday, she thought I had pneumonia. Thank God she could see me. Thank God I could get antibiotics and a cough syrup. But here's where I've spent a goodly portion of the month of August:
Yeah. Sigh. I got home on the 8th, saw the doc on the 10th, and have spent a goodly amount of time here. Propped up, just like in the pic. I finally realized (with the help of some parishioners) that if I prop myself up, I'm less likely to drown in mucous (sorry). Even this past week, 2 weeks after I saw the doctor, I was still coughing and had post-nasal drip, which threatened to progress into more of the same. And I have a trip to Italy in 3.5 weeks! I have to be well. My activity practices (running each morning with the dog, yoga 2-3 times a week) also ceased, so I'm more out of shape than I've been in 4 years. But after a re-consultation with the doctor and some self-medication as well (I think I need a drying-up decongestant, as well as an allergy-treating antihistamine), I'm finally resembling something akin to health. I've taken several 20-minute brisk walks (as opposed to my prior 30-40 minute runs), and today I actually got some yard work done.
When I visited Buffalo, I also spent some time with my friend Janet, who is a gardener of great gifts. She showed me and talked to me about her gardens, and I was re-inspired to attend to my own yard. I won't even show you to gone-to-pot (not literally!) veggie garden, but here's what my front walk and steps have looked like for several weeks now:
Notice the overgrown condition of the spiderwort, especially. Not only is it encroaching onto (and has rooted into) the front steps, but it has completely overgrown the two beds on either side. I feel like I'm wading through a sea of weeds and chiggers each time I approach my house. Yuck.
So I've been sick. Which not only has let my weeds grow unimpeded, but makes me feel like a pile of crap, besides. I spend time lying on the sofa, torn between episodes of "American Justice" and "Dr. Phil/Oprah" (aren't they really the same show?), and berating myself for all I'm not doing -- at the church, around the house, and everywhere else. Anyway, as I began to feel better, and this entryway became the source of great annoyance to me, I decided to follow some good advice to set a timer for 15 minutes, and then again and again, if I felt like it, and see how much I could get done. As always, we surprise ourselves; I surprised myself. Here's what all that mess looked like after 15 minutes:
You see that the steps have been mostly cleared up. The bushes to the right and left of the sidewalk are more clearly defined (by the removal of overgrowth). There's still some growth on the steps themselves, and lots of scrap and debris on the sidewalk. I set my timer for 15 minutes again, and of course, the timer went off, and I hadn't accomplished all I wanted. So I kept going. I didn't time myself, but I suspect the time I spent was about 45 minutes total. Not bad for an old gal with residual allergies and/or bronchitis. Here's what it looked like at the end:
All cleaned up, and 45-60 minutes total. In this particular shot, I've even removed the HUGE pile of clippings and pullings -- enough to pile a wheelbarrow higher than is prudent. Oh, I think it looks lovely. I needed to spend a little time making things look nice out front again. When I walked the dogs at 6:00, I enjoyed every second of approaching the porch. I had also pulled the poison ivy that was growing over the front sidewalk. When the men of the church had a workday, they didn't get it out, so I finally had to, despite my fears of contamination. But I don't seem to have contracted anything as yet, so I'm pretty sure I've got it made.
Anyway, I wanted to fill you all in on my comings and goings, my ups and downs (mostly downs, unfortunately). And why I haven't talked to you in ever so long. But perhaps between now and when I leave for Italy, I can fill you in more about my trip, my preparations, and my expectations. Love you all.