I had visions of epic blog entries once I got home and had regular Internet access, but instead, I pulled weeds, picked the last of the tomatoes, cleaned the house, wrote in my journal and did just about anything that did not require sitting down at a computer. 

The writing retreat was both energizing and exhausting.  I love the group of women I meet up with each time; they are eclectic and fun, talented and supportive, and bona fide bad-asses.  We range in ages from 81 to 35 so there is much wisdom to be gained from both ends of the spectrum.  It’s an honor to be among them if only for a couple of weeks a year.

The sunset from the porch in Franklin.

I decided to let the book sit for a week before doing the final “polish”, which involves things like comma placement and verb usage—the really exciting part of writing.  Meanwhile, I got some housework done, made up for time away with Harper Lee and Isaac and brainstormed a couple of new projects that have me itching to break out the paints and brushes.

Our fall schedule, like every year, is already filling up, and I can see that my dreams of quiet camping trips and easy evenings on the back porch beside a camp fire will need to be penciled in if they’re to be done at all.  This past weekend was one of those easy weekends thanks to a rainy Sunday afternoon and no commitments.

We spent most of the day in our jammies and everyone but Isaac got a nap, which is my favorite way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  One of my new life goals is to make Sunday more of an actual Sabbath.  It has become conspicuously un-Sabbath-like over the past couple of years, and I’m reclaiming it as our day of rest.

Of course, some of our rest was forced because of a raging case of black spot poison ivy.  Yeah, we’d never heard of it either.  Harper Lee played with a friend on Saturday afternoon.  They built fairy houses in the woods, something they both do on a regular basis.  Almost immediately after, Harper Lee began to complain of a sore place under her arm.  I figured it was chafing from her soccer jersey earlier that morning and thought nothing of it.  We went home, had supper, and Harper Lee went over to another friend’s for a sleepover.

The next morning, my friend called and said that her child, who was the other fairy house builder, was covered in a horrible rash.  I said I didn’t know if Harper Lee was because she wasn’t at home, but I would find out when we got to church.

When we got there, Harper Lee was covered in a mysterious red rash, but the really perplexing (and a little disturbing) part was that the rash included strange black marks that looked like they’d been made by a Sharpie marker.  Even one of the doctors in our congregation wasn’t sure of what it might be.

Later, we discovered photos online that matched what we were seeing, and we dosed up on Benadryl.  But in the middle of the night, she woke us with severe swelling, soreness and more rash.  Her armpit was so swollen she couldn’t even lower her arm to her side.  And it was getting in her eyes.  Her whole face is now covered in tiny red bumps. 

After a long, sleepless and itchy night, we dropped Isaac at school and immediately went to the pediatrician’s office for a steroid shot and antibiotics (for the armpit).  When we got home, I made an oatmeal paste and let her soak in an oatmeal bath , and now, thankfully, she is sleeping.

How they managed to get into that much poison ivy without knowing it remains a mystery.  My friend’s husband thinks that maybe the spot where they were playing had been recently mowed and the oil from the poison ivy was on other things, like pine cones and grass and tree bark.  So far, that seems the only logical explanation.

I hope this doesn’t deter them from building their fairy houses in the future, but I think I might keep them within the confines of their own yards.