i itch, therefore i am.

by grace on September 7, 2018

first, a couple of darling kitty photos.

this was sunday, august 26th.  les had to rest his weary head on top of a sock, on top of a cushion, on top of a rug…and yet his usual favored sleeping position is resting against some cold piece of metal.  Winnie is pretty calm these days, and seems to be getting ever so slightly more used to the twice-daily affront of getting cream applied to his inner ears, plus the dreaded squirt into his mouth of anti-seizure medicine.  when I have to do two swabs at night, starting out with wiping out his ears and ending with the squirt stuff, he’d usually sprint away, as fast as his old arthritic legs could take him.  but last night he didn’t go too far and was sitting next to me on the couch in pretty short order.

but then again, this morning when I got up I looked for him and he was in the basement bathroom and immediately ducked into the closet that leads to the walled area behind the old shower area, so there was no hope of even thinking about reaching him.

but then again once more, right now he’s giving himself a thorough bath next to me on the couch, a pretty happy kitty for right now.

riley, always so darned cute.  he’s a little unhappy today because the big rain finally started last night and continues, and he’s not able to go outside to his precious fenced yard. I know he’s managing to sleep it off somewhere around here right now.

so…on Wednesday august 22nd we had the trees taken down, as I’ve written about, and we also go another barge full of riprap.  we’d gotten one barge full a week before that, and hired a couple of strong young college boys to dump it onto the shoreline.  it seemed like fairly back-breaking work, and I was pleased that we were finally, finally getting some riprap.

riprap is rocks that line the shore so your property doesn’t all slide into the lake.  we get a newsletter from the lake association, and one of them talked about how rip rap is a “yearly tradition” for many lake residents.

but here’s the huge scam about that:  we’ve lived here for 10 years I believe, and haven’t gotten any new riprap.  I assumed mom and dad got some at some point during the over 20 years they lived here, but mom revealed not long ago that they had never had the riprap replenished.


my grandmother didn’t have it done, either.  in the 50 years she lived here.

so that means that the eroding rip rap at our shore is the original stuff that was put there when the lake was first built in the 1930’s!

so.  yes, there’s some erosion – we’re at the point of losing a big oak tree that is hanging over the lake, and you can see the erosion – but it’s not bad at all, considering that it hasn’t been touch in almost 90 years.

a friend who lives on the lake talked about how she used to throw rocks that had slipped into the water back up onto the shore, and how the original rocks were clearly big pieces of broken sidewalk.  that’s exactly what our riprap is.

almost 90 years.

some wealthy people on the lake choose to put in retaining walls instead of rocks.  when my parents moved in here in the 80’s, dad got a few feet of retaining wall in order to put in the dock.  I don’t remember how much it cost, but I want to say that a retaining wall is somewhere in the thousands of dollars per foot.  so in order to get a wall around your entire property, you’d pay a fortune.

I just tried to get a ballpark of how much a wall would cost and wasn’t successful, but I did find this interesting tidbit from a site called “lakeshoreguys.com.”  they had lots of reasonable-sounding reasons why it’s a very bad idea to get a retaining wall.  here’s the most pertinent, in my opinion:

Retaining walls are very damaging to the near-shore environment. They cause wave action, which scours the lakebed, displaces bottom sediment, and creates a sterile environment devoid of life. Wall structures on a lake can disrupt and destroy ecosystems of fish and other wildlife.

looking at their website, they sound so fantastic…but (1) they’re located in Minnesota, and (2) I think we’re doing a pretty good job on our own.

and did I mention that the shoreline hasn’t eroded hardly at all in almost 90 years?

I’ve been talking to the guy at City Water Light & Power who is in charge of all things riprap and tree-related (if you live on the lake you have to get written permission to trim or cut down trees), and told him that the riprap had never been replaced.  and you know what he said?  he said “well, you’re lucky.”

i wanted to say to him are you KIDDING me???  but i didn’t.

but, ridiculous.  sooo ridiculous.  we’re not lucky, it’s simple if you think about it – we’re a lake, we’re not the ocean, there aren’t huge waves pounding at the shore, pulling down the rocks.  the erosion takes a loooooong time.

anyway, the CWLP guy said we should get some 2″ rock to fill in the gaps, and then we could get bigger rock to put on top of that.  we’ll have to wait til next summer for the big rock since the guys are back in college, but he said the little rocks would be fine for now.

kevin was so pleased at how the riprap looked that he decided to order a second barge to complete the job – the one barge hadn’t made it all along our and my sister’s shorelines.

kevin also decided he could shovel the rocks himself, and he’d ask his friends to help.

here’s the second barge, next to the tree on the left that’s going to plunge into the lake at some point.

he shoveled a lot even though it was incredibly hot and humid outside, and he came to this point, where there was so much honeysuckle growing in the rocks.  on Saturday the 25th he had to go out of town, and he asked if i’d be willing to pull the honeysuckle and I said sure.

I worked for an hour and a half and it was so incredibly hot and humid and I wore sweats because of the constant poison ivy threat, and gloves, but I wore a short sleeved t shirt because it was so terrifically hot.  I pulled and hacked at the honeysuckle and used the hedge trimmers and started throwing some of the rocks back up onto the shore because there were plenty of smaller rocks that I could lift.

I sweated through all of my clothes, and took a break for an hour and a half.  I finally went back out, and this time mom helped me – she carried branches to a pile and was generally encouraging. we worked for another hour and finally stopped.

here’s what part of the section looked like after kevin had resumed shoveling the rock the next day.  I wish there was a before picture – that whole area there was covered with honeysuckle, pretty much.

here’s where he almost finished…

…the barge comes with a handy gangplank.

kevin completed the job, the barge was empty, and he had to work on incredibly hot days because they were coming to pick it up on Thursday the 30th.

but the barge is still here.

so never mind about the rush in the heat, but at least it’s done.

next summer we’ll get the big rock and maybe the college boys will come back or maybe kevin and I will put it down, i’m not worrying about that right now.  it’s good to know that this is the only time in our lives that we’ll have to do it, since it’ll last a minimum of 80 years.

the one bad thing about the whole deal is poison ivy.  after i’d done my work that Saturday, kevin and I walked down to look at it on sunday afternoon and I looked down at the ground and said “that’s poison ivy.”  and he said “yep.”  it was a small plant, but who knows how big it had been when I touched it.  and I looked down at my arm and said “and that’s some poison ivy.”  it was just a few dots, and I worried that I might get it all over my body.  I started putting on steroid cream, but it got all red and horrible and the itching kept me up for a couple of hours every night.  I took massive amounts of Benadryl and was in a constant fog of drowsiness.

this is how it looked by last Saturday.  so gross.

amy had horrible, horrible poison ivy earlier in the summer and when she finally showed it to me I demanded that she go get a shot and drugs and whatever it took from the doctor.  so when I sent her and jim this photo, they insisted the same thing.  I said it wasn’t anything at all like hers, but she pointed out that it looked atrocious plus it kept me up at night.

so I went to urgent care that evening and got a prednisone shot which helped a little bit, and I started taking prednisone pills on Monday.  right now it looks a million times better, it’s dry and just red, and i’m tapering off the prednisone.  but the itching woke me up this morning, and I keep putting ice on it, but i’m so lucky and thankful that I didn’t get it anywhere else.  so lucky!  I do have a vague recollection of thoroughly scrubbing my hands and arms after working that day, but I couldn’t remember if i’d done it after each time I worked, and I couldn’t remember what clothes I changed into in between working, so I just threw all my clothes into the wash.


the predisone has been keeping me up at night, and I’ve been super energetic during the day, but I think that’s all winding down now.

and now, September, things are more calm.  the remnants of hurricane Gordon continue to rain down on us, but we need the rain.

and that is all on this Friday afternoon,

mrs. why should I even leave the house today hughes.


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