Archive for the ‘poison ivy’ Tag

Life Goes On   5 comments

I finally saw Marcos’ headstone and I must say my reaction surprised me. He is the fifth pet I’ve buried at the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery, sixth if I count my brother’s dog, Duke. I found his grave immediately thanks to the pinwheel I’d left at the unmarked grave at Easter. Shiny and new, I could read the engraved words before I climbed the hill.


And I broke down and cried – real tears crying. I never cried at the cemetery with any of my other pets. Not even Fremont. Seeing Fremont carved in stone did stop me in my tracks, and have me uttering his name,  but not like this. I couldn’t even smile at the Handsome Hunk of Dog bit. Anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I’ve loved all my cats dearly but I guess this just goes to show that dogs leave a different kind of hole in your life.

Meanwhile back at the House of Mars, life goes on. Summer has come.


So it was down with the storm door


And up with the screen door.


Which has made Marcel and Marceau happy campers

Speaking of the Brothers Mar, they gradually relinquished their claim on  Marcos’ beds



so I donated them (the beds, not The Brothers) to the  Putnam County Humane Society. Every once in a while Marceau does hang out on the futon, but his days are limited. Come Bulk Garbage Pick-up day in October it will be out in the street. That will be sad, but necessary since I’m in the process of restoring the room to its original status – guest room. But like the rooms at the Bed and Breakfast I stayed in recently, it will have a permanent title – The Marcos Room

As for The Marcos Room, I’ve discovered that taking down wallpaper is a journey.



As for me, yes life goes on. Followers will recall I took at nasty case of poison ivy with me to Key West last year. Well last week I took a case to St Thomas Virgin Islands,


a milder dose, but still annoying.

Oh well, some things just don’t change, do they?

What Are They Thinking?   1 comment

I ended the last post with a question. Are some animals suicidal? If you recall I had found a dead mouse in this bucket.


Now I ask you.  Could this be an accident? Oh yeah, little mousie  just happened to be walking around the basement  and decided to climb a foot and a half  up a bucket? Come on!

Not convinced? Okay, how about this? Have you ever been driving about in the country, and there on the side of the road is a dead skunk or opossum. It always makes me sad but it also makes  me wonder. These are the types of roads where one car passes by every two minutes, and that’s on a busy day. You mean it’s just a coincidence that as that one car is coming,  the animal  just happened to be crossing.  I know both skunks and opossums are among the slowest of mammal. So does Mother Nature.  That’s why she  gave them special powers of protection:



Skunks, their odor and


opossums,  their acting talent  – playing dead.

And then there’s those mice who come into The House of Mars during the winter. I realize their choices are limited –


stay out in the cold



Hunker down in the dreary basement or come up, using whatever secret passage known to mice,


and face these two, or


Marcos, who was still with us most of last winter, a faithful volunteer on Mouse Patrol who usually trotted off with the capture.

I don’t know about you, but I’d hightail it back down into the basement!

And before I leave the subject of death, let me make a confession, there was a death on the Mars property. DSCN0569

I’m guilty of  herbicide


You see it’s an ongoing battle when it comes to poison ivy vs yours truly.

Sometimes I win.


And sometimes PI wins. And when she does you don’t want to see me. Trust me. It’s not a pretty sight.

Posted June 16, 2013 by virginiafair in Uncategorized

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A Slap-Happy Solution   5 comments

If you see me slapping myself this Spring, don’t be alarmed. I haven’t gone crazy. In fact I’m doing it to keep my sanity. It means I have probably had a recent rendezvous with my arch-enemy, Ivy – her first name is Poison. We all know rule #1 is do not scratch. We also know that the un-met desire to scratch can be torture.

A good friend of mine turned me on to the slapping thing. After the tip she rose to the rank of  very good friend because it really works. I know scratching the poison ivy rash can lead to infection or make it spread further but that’s not why I refrain.  I don’t scratch because once I start, I cannot stop.

But slapping really does work. It just goes to show you can stand pain more than prurience. No, that isn’t something dirty. It means being itchy. , lotAt least I think so, hold on and let me check the internet.

Oops I’m wrong. According to the Merriam Webster,it means being prurient and prurient means marked by or arousing an immoderate or unwholesome desire, especially appealing to sexual desire.

That’s not it. What is the word I want?

Hold on….

OK. I’m back again.

The word I want is pruritus : itch, or an unpleasant sensation that provokes the desire to scratch.

That’s it. As I was saying it just goes to show you can stand pain more than pruritis.

Sigh, this isn’t turning out to be the smoothest of blog posts. You see,  now I have a dilemma…..

I was planning to show you my itch aids but after my verbal faux pas with prurience, you might think they’re sex aids But what the heck……They’re not. Let’s get on with the show.

As I was saying…….

Even though it’s  much too early for poison ivy, I’m still in itch agony.  I have the next worst thing – winter dry skin itch.

My shins and  back are the areas I yearn to scratch. I can’t reach my back, so it’s safe. But I really have to watch it with my shins. I started scratching once on my bowling league night and stopped only because they kept telling me I had to bowl. By the time the night was over, my legs looked like they’d gone through  a shredder.

So it was either cut my nails to the quick or co me up with a solution. And I did:


My legs are so greased after a shower that my socks won’t stay up. Slathering up also works on my back – the areas I can reach.

For the areas I can’t reach:


This works and doesn’t shred my skin. But I keep losing it. Can’t remember which room I left it in.

And then there’s my daily morning fix:


In the interest of full disclosure: the full force of water on an extremely itchy patch of skin produces explosive satisfaction ,  almost akin to … never mind, try it next time you have an  itch. You’ll see!

And in case you’re interested….while I was on line I looked up just why we itch. I mean I can understand pain, it prevents us from harming ourselves with fire or sharp objects and warns of illness. Hunger? It  keeps us from starving; likewise thirst, from dehydration. They are all protective in nature but why the sensation of itching?

Well I found a nice short easily understandable mini-article in Esquire that explains itch is actually a perception that comes  from the brain. When poison ivy touches skin, skin releases a chemical factor that causes inflammation. Then itch receptors or some such thing pass the information to the spinal cord, and the spinal cord passes it to the brain and the brain responds with “okay this is an itch” and instructs the body to respond. And the response? To scratch.

Now why would my brain tell me to scratch? I thought it had more sense than that.

I read on, and find that “all animals have evolved some kind of mechanism to get rid of anything attached to their skin. That’s why the itchy sensation is such an ancient one. We are trying to remove the irritant from our skin.


And the article ends with:

Dr. Scott Moses, a physician who specializes in the treatment of chronic itching, notes, “There are a lot of adverse effects of itching and scratching. The itch is completely harmless when you don’t scratch, but when you scratch, it causes all these different secondary effects that can spiral into more scratching. If you have to respond, don’t scratch — rub.”

No.  Slap!
If you’d like to read the Esquire article for yourself, here it is

Or if you prefer something more scientific than Esquire, there’s this.

Posted February 26, 2013 by virginiafair in humor, Uncategorized

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Key West:The Bucket Springs a Leak or Two   2 comments

I had all the bases covered, or so I thought.

The Mars were taken care of:

  • Marcos had reservations at the kennel.
  • My friend and neighbor, Alison was going to stop in at The House of Mars each day to feed Marcel and Marceau and
  • I, V Margaret had everything booked – plane tickets, airport parking, rental car, and hotel.

I was finally checking off #1 on my bucket list of places to visit –  Key West. I wasn’t going there directly, though. My itinerary called for me to fly to Orlando, pick up my rental, then drive to Sebring to spend the weekend with my friend, Selena who’d moved there from NY.

Itching to Get There

  If I had to pick a location I’d say the itching began somewhere over Virginia. Without looking up from my book, I  absent-mindedly scratched my left leg, the same as I did on the right side of my face, along my jaw bone. It wasn’t until the index and middle finger of my right hand cried out for attention that I noticed the tiny blister-like rash on the insides of each finger.  I had weeded my garden the previous day, and the location of the finger rash jibed with my method of pulling weeds. N-o-o-o-o-o-o, it couldn’t be, not on my vacation – in the sun – in shorts, in a bathing suit  – n-o-o-o-o-o. Not poison ivy!

I decided to ignore it, and luckily, picking up a rental car in Orlando provides lots of distraction. If you’ve ever rented a car at Orlando you’ll know what a huge process that is – more rental counters than I’ve ever seen, housing rental companies I’d never heard of. And the lines! They were almost as long as the check in lines at Kennedy. Once you’ve signed the papers, you’re on your own finding your car among all the others parked in the two levels of “The garage across the way.” Armed with only a level letter and a parking space number, and the assurance – “your keys are in the car” I found my black Mazda 3 and was soon on  my way. The intense concentration brought on by the scarcity of roadside lights punctuated by distant strikes of lightning and intermittent rainfall kept the itching of my face at bay. I was proud of myself, I made the trip in ninety-five minutes and didn’t get lost once – unless you count passing Selena’s street – twice, and her house once. But like I said – it was dark.

Picture This. No Don’t.

Saturday, after a day at the pool,  where Selena  pointed out that I had a rash on my face) I got the camera out of my suitcase. I had actually remembered to bring it; not always the case! I wanted to take a picture of Angela, Selena’s wide-eyed tortoise-shell cat. She is a slim beauty and I wanted to shame Marceau with it. At eighteen pounds, and holding, he makes three of the dainty Angela.

I pushed the power button as I tiptoed over to the lanai where she was lounging on her very own chaise longue. Nothing happened, the lens remained collapsed within the camera.  I pressed it again .Still  nothing. This wasn’t happening! I’d just bought this camera in April. It had been working fine. I’d charged it for the first time just before my past blog entry, right after the shot I’d included of the driveway from hell. Based on the fresh charge I’d decided not to bring the charging cord since with the cellphone charger and the lap top power cord I had all the cables I wanted to pack.

Okay Picture it Now

I’m not sure which is worse, forgetting the camera of making a bad decision. One that resulted in no photos to post from my bucket list vacation. But look at it this way, you get to use your imagination.

Are you  ready?

  • Three nights of  fabulous sunsets along the waterfront in Old Town section of  Key West where it’s  a must for all tourists to gather and applaud the fiery orange orb as it drops into the ocean.

The bizarre characters who gather in the last rays to entertain for donations –

  • zebra-striped-leotard wearing man with the matching bathing cap who swallowed fire;
  • the hula-hooping juggler making his way along a makeshift tight rope;
  • the golden retriever in surfer shorts  who collected dollar bills and placed them in a bucket while his seedy-looking owner, a  Jimmy Buffett wannabe sang of margaritas and cheeseburgers.

I’m not sure I would have taken any pictures of any of them  but at least I’d have had the choice if the    #&%*^?! camera worked.

And on my last  day when I visited Ernest Hemingway’s House I’d have shown you t he slew of six-toed cats who mugged for the other people’s cameras  and Hemingway’s above-the-garage writing studio. I could have kept a photo of it by my laptop for inspiration.  But no, I had to settle for watching other people take my photos with cameras that actually worked.

Full Force

Lest you think I’d actually managed to ignore my poison ivy into submission, let me mention that by Sunday evening, the right side of my face resembled that of an acne-stricken  fourteen year old in the dermatologist’s waiting room. But at least there were no blisters. No, those came out on Monday  morning  on the  insides of my the afore-mentioned fingers, twins, resembling two huge red grapes, facing each . Did you ever try hold a fork  with two grapes separating your fingers? I became a very clumsy lefty, keeping my right hand out of sight lest waiters and shop clerks thought I had a flesh-eating condition.

While I was Gone

The first thing I did the morning after returning home was to see if I’d kept the receipt for the camera. I had. The second was to see if it needed charging. It did. The third thing was to find out if it worked. It did.  So here I was all charged up and nowhere to go. And in my backyard were the flowers that had bloomed with no audience

Oh well.  I can’t share Key West with you but I can share what happened at home while I was gone:

Lilies loomed.

Roses rose.

Red Hot Pokers poked.

Astilbes feathered.

Veronica hung out with Daisy.

And just what you’ve been waiting for:

My Fingers Armed themselves for a return  to the scene of the crime.