Monday, November 11, 2013

Long Time, No Post - But I'm Making Up For It!

I was on the road for most of last month, and I've got to learn how to post from my iPad.  (Fortunately, I know who to go to when I'm technologically challenged - any of my kids. Or grandkids.  It seems that we were just teaching them yesterday how to tie their shoelaces, and now we're asking them for tech help.)  So I'll have several posts this week just to catch up. 

First we went to the hill country just west of Austin, which is always a simply wonderful place to visit.  Texans try to keep the hill country a secret so people from other states don't discover it and move there.  It's all gently rolling hills covered with wildflowers, veined by rivers and creekbeds, and you'll still spot herds of longhorns. It's so darn pretty that you'll understand why the original pioneers stayed despite rattlesnakes, scorpions, and scalping raids from hostile Indians.

Now the biggest danger in the hill country is the calorie count from all the local specialties.  We always stop for lunch wherever we see a lot of cars and trucks in the parking lot.  This time we stopped at the Koffee Kup in Hico (pronounced HIGH-co, the locals quickly tell us, I suppose to avoid the HICK-o pronunciation which would make them known as, well, hicks).

It's the kind of place where your phone automatically speed-dials your cardiologist as you enter the front door.  Everything is fried.  I swear even the salad was fried. I counter-balanced the calories in the chicken-fried steak by ordering my tea unsweetened, which seemed to be a unique experience for the waitress.  She had to clarify twice that I really wanted unsweet tea, with an air of disbelief as though I'd said something not usually mentioned in polite company.  Then since we'd saved so many calories with the unsweetened tea, we split a piece of pie.  Just in the interest of research, of course.  Our humble opinion is the pie was merely OK but the really artery-hardening stuff was pretty darn tasty.

Anyway, it was a lovely fall weekend in the hill country with magnificent sunsets.  We would have been reluctant to leave except that a storm system started pushing in with a record amount of rainfall and flash floods can be really scary around there. 

Then I flew to Virginia to spend some time with family in the Chesapeake Bay area and I loved every minute:  fun folks, cool fall breezes, leaves turning color, unbelievable seafood, and spectacular waterfront scenery. I actually got up predawn one morning to watch the sun rise over the Bay and believe me, it takes something pretty amazing to get me up that early in the morning.  Then I settled for watching sunsets for the rest of the trip as they aren't scheduled quite so darn early.

Now I'm settled back at home and I did promise some cancer and gardening info, so here we go.  I got lots of great advice on how to help neuropathy, and thanks to everyone who sent me suggestions.  I was told to try vitamin B6/B12 shots, capsaicin (hot pepper) cream, various herbal supplements, and rub in geranium or lavender oil, but Arlene B. passed along the suggestion that was a real winner for me.  It's cheap, easy, and works instantly:  just rub Vicks VapoRub on your feet before you go to bed.  It feels (and smells) a bit odd, but it works for me every time!  It keeps the pain at bay until I can fall asleep, and my meds can take it from there.  Apparently it works just as well on neuropathy in hands, too.

And for you gardeners, here's a tip for a drought-tolerant stunner which was in bloom when I left on my travels:  lycoris radiata, or red spider lily. The bulbs send up two-foot stalks suddenly in October and unfurl spectacular red blooms which last for two weeks and are great cut flowers.  Then short, narrow gray-green strappy leaves appear, which add soft color and form to your winter garden, and disappear by summer.  They need no maintenance whatsoever. 
They were a favorite of mine growing up in Virginia, and I nostalgically bought 30 bulbs about 10 years ago and planted them in both shady and sunny flower beds.  They did well in both and have multiplied over the years to create quite a display.  Often considered only for the South, Lycoris radiata actually has a broader growing area although it may need a sheltered area farther north.  Its origin is China, but is highly popular in Japan, which gives you an idea of the climate it will tolerate.  Plant some and watch your neighbors' jaws drop when they bloom next fall!

Tomorrow:  What the doc said

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