Thursday, October 31, 2013

On not running and Happy Halloween

Lately I have become interested in reading running blogs. I'm not sure why, since I have no intention of taking up running. I love to walk and hike but hate to run, although I did run a lot as a teenager and first saw the twin sisters' garden and wild fire pink and pinxterflower when running in the Gimghoul Road neighborhood in Chapel Hill. Years ago on NPR I heard a story about the Badwater Ultramarathon -- that takes place in July, in Death Valley of all places -- that I never forgot about, and recently read a very well-written report this by a woman who ran the 145 mile Grand Union Canal race in England. I think she's nuts but interesting too.

I think I just like reading about people pushing themselves to their limit and getting a real feeling of accomplishment from it. Pacing myself is the name of the game these days, not pushing myself to the limit. Sarah of Galloping Horse Garden wrote recently of how much time she spends writing blog posts, and her post resonated with me on several levels. The amount of blogging I do sometimes has to do with how I'm feeling. I've mentioned suffering from fatigue periodically. I have a mild form of fibromyalgia. Started about 5 years ago and was tough to deal with for about 2 years. Since then it's under better control, although wet cold weather fronts still cause issues, so winter is my worst time. Fibro is a funny thing and different for different people. On an "off" day I might feel OK when I get up but after doing a few things around the house I'm so tired I have to lie down for a few hours. The pain for me is secondary to the fatigue, although they go hand in hand. The pain starts off as an almost interesting feeling, a sort of tingling in my wishbone and ribs that goes to my shoulders and down my arms. Eventually my legs too. A muscular/ nerve pain that can get intense sometimes. If it's bad enough my heart beating hurts my ribs, but that doesn't happen very often. Lying still helps, as does Tommy purring against my chest. So, if I can't work in the garden -- and taking care of the horses is quite enough, if it's not a weekend so that Gene can take over for me -- I can prop up in front of the computer and work on the blog.

I don't spend lots of time on the prose but going through all of the pictures takes ages. I tend to take many pictures of the same thing -- typically the first one will be the best one and the rest successively blurrier -- and feel compelled to look at each and every one. And yet, there's often something I want to talk about and have no picture to illustrate my point.

Sarah also wrote of disliking the actual process of writing, although she loved having written something. I feel a little that way too.

This was not always so, alas. I used to LOVE to write, before I went to college. I went to UNC and even though I'd already taken a semester's worth of AP classes, high school was like kindergarten compared to college! The pace was SO much faster. I was fine, but the first few weeks I felt overwhelmed and just like that, lost interest in writing in my free time. Kind of sad that a creative flame could be snuffed out so easily, but perhaps mine wasn't very strong to begin with. I don't know that I ever would have produced anything good, but that's not really the point. I very much enjoyed the process of writing, and still miss it.

I was disappointed when I saw that the fantastic writer Stacey of Microcosm stopped writing on her blog, although it's still possible to read her wonderful posts and I hope to read more of her work one day. Her condition was far worse than mine, but it was fascinating and enlightening to read about how she continued to live her life and about some of her struggles while dealing with chronic fatigue syndrome.

Dry warm fall weather is wonderful, not only because it's beautiful but because there's much less chance of a flare-up. After two weeks of gray misty dreariness, glorious golden fall weather has returned. G. had a week off during one of those drab and dreary weeks, but he was recovering from a back strain and the pony was still off, so we just took one day to go to Chapel Hill and Niche Gardens and another day to go to the State Fair. Lucky for us Niche had just started their 40% off plant sale so we picked up several plants that I just had to have but will have to find spots for, and saw the most beautiful fall salvia ever: 'Phyllis Fancy'. She's a Salvia leucantha hybrid with fuzzy purple calyxes and greyish lavender flowers, and is a complete bee magnet. I will have to get a hold of one of those next spring.

I sometimes find the appeal of the fall landscape difficult to capture in pictures. A wide angle view of the garden can look like a bit of a mess. It's hard to capture how the late afternoon sun makes the fading seashore mallow a warm yellow-lime, and fills the Bidens with warm golden light and turns their brown stems a rich chesnut. A picture can't convey a flash of movement out of the corner of your eye, which turns to be a dozen or more bobwhite quail that flutter and glide across the neighbor's pasture. Or the dozens of song sparrows and goldfinches foraging in the Bidens for seeds, and the graceful way the goldfinches rise up and fly away in that amazing undulating way that they have, twittering as they go. Surrounded by a rising flock of goldfinches is rather like being in a Disney movie.

Can I discuss for a moment how much I love this tree? I see it all of the time, inside and outside the house, as it is visible from the living room windows. It's a pesky red maple that leaves seeds all over my garden that sprout into innumerable seedlings but I love it anyway. It's beautiful in every season. In autumn it turns apricot orange.

There's a cluster of volunteer snowbell trees below it
and south of those, a group of sorrel trees. They don't look as good as Laurrie's tree, but they're pretty when they bloom in early summer. Anyway, I didn't pay for them. They just showed up. Perhaps they leafspot because the soil on their slope is too lean for them. I'll have to throw more compost at them and see if that helps.

It's Halloween today! I love Halloween but haven't done anything for it in years, since we're not partyers and we're hidden down in the woods and don't get visited by trick or treaters. When we lived in an apartment in Chapel Hill I carved 2 or 3 pumpkins and hoards of kids came through.

One of these days I'll get around to making a real Halloween post. There's a road nearby with all sorts of great subjects -- abandoned farm buildings with their lines all off kilter and covered in creeping vines -- but I haven't done a shoot yet because everything is on private land and on a twisty country road. I'll need a driver, otherwise risk becoming a ghost myself.

It's like more like springtime here today than October 31st. A good day to get out in the garden.

Happy Halloween!


  1. Dear Sweetbay ~ I'm glad you are not having a flare-up and that your weather is mild. Lovely autumn photos there in the country. I wish you more mild days all the way around.

    Love and hugs ~ FlowerLady

  2. Thank you very much for reference and link. This was so interesting to me. My sister-in-law has fibromyalgia so I know how debilitating it can be. I feel for you. And I'm all the more amazed at your garden, your blog, and all the things you do. It makes me realize once again that I must never whine. Ever! And why do you feel as if you stopped writing? You haven't.

    1. Sarah I am lucky to have a mild case that has been manageable. If every day was a bad day I couldn't keep the horses at home anymore and I'd have to let the garden go. 2-3 years ago during the winter Gene was having to take care of the horses in the morning so I'd have the energy to take care of them at night. Not so anymore.

      I hesitated to post about it but it's still such a big part of my life, including gardening, that I decided to. The biggest triggers are cold and overdoing it. I take care of the horses whenever Gene is not at home, but avoid unloading hay from the store now for example. Generally I can get a lot of work done in the garden in spring, but may "crash" on weekends from doing so much during the week. That can make riding difficult though, since I ride when Gene is here.

      It's true I still write. :) But I used to write much more, and much of it was fiction.

  3. Sweetbay, if you haven't already read it, you MUST read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. I am not a runner at all, but this is a true adventure story that kept me turning the pages! On days you are fatigued you might enjoy a good book. I am sorry about your Fibromyalgia. I know a sweet lady who suffers terribly from it. And I agree with Sarah's comment above. You certainly have not stopped writing! And your photos are always inspiring, including the ones in this post.There is good reason yours has always been among my favorite blogs!

  4. Thank you Deb, both for your kind words and the book recommendation! I will have to read that book.

  5. I didn't know you had fibromyalgia, Sweetbay. My best friend has it, and it was debilitating for her for 10 years until she found Lyrica, which has been a miracle drug for her. I know that every case is different, but I so admire you for all that you have accomplished in spite of this. I find it's hard to keep up with everything; even blogging seems to take more "work" than it used to, and I have nothing to blame but getting older:) I find, too, it's hard to capture the beauty of some scenes in photos, but yours are lovely as always!


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