Poison ivy

This poison ivy has brought back the anxiety crazies.

I noticed the first spot on my arm on Wednesday, July 5. By the end of that day, I had a big patch on my right hip and some spots on my inner thigh. For the next few days, some smaller spots showed up all along my arms, stomach and upper thighs. Since the biggest spots were on my right hip and upper inner thigh, I figured that the poison ivy oil was on my shoes and when I put my shorts on, it transferred to the inside of my shorts and onto my body.


I threw out those shorts (they were old and not good for running anymore anyway).

For the record, I always take my shoes off before I change my shorts. Except the Sunday before I hadn’t. Because I usually change out of my sweaty wet clothes in the woods at the trail head. But the day before I’d found a tick crawling on my shoe when I did that. And a few days before that, I’d found a tick attached to me. So I didn’t feel like changing in the woods. Instead, I pulled off the Blue Ridge Parkway at a picnic area to change. It was still fairly early in the morning though, so it was deserted. Ever since I’d read about the Seattle runner who was attacked in a bathroom, I’ve been leery about deserted restrooms. I really wanted to get out of my soaked clothing, though. So I went in and quickly checked all the stalls. I then changed as fast as I possibly could, while standing with my hand holding the main door closed. So I didn’t take my shoes off. Until I got back to my car. Then I put them on the floor in the back of my car. Then probably into an old grocery bag with the rest of my wet clothes to carry into the house.

It wasn’t until this Tuesday, a full week after finding the first spot that I started thinking about everything that I and my shoes may have come into contact with, though. I started thinking about this because after a few glorious days of not finding any new spots, some new patches showed up on my wrist and lower thighs.

Since my last major anxiety flare up, I’ve been doing really well! I can’t say exactly what I’ve been doing to get it in check, but I think the main thing was cutting way back on my training. I’m pretty sure that I was over-training last summer, trying to follow my half-ironman training plan. I also started doing gentle yoga everyday (that only lasted a couple of weeks) and cut way down on caffeine. I still make 6+ cups every morning, but I only use 2 scoops of regular and the rest decaf.

But dealing with this poison ivy is making me feel pretty crazy again.

It’s not helping that I’m not getting much sleep because the itchiness is keeping me awake. And thinking that everything I touch could possibly have urishiol on it is driving me mad.

Today I scrubbed down both pairs of my running shoes with technu, and then washed them in the washing machine. I also used the technu to scrub down my steering wheel and seat belt, and washed both of my backpacks and all of my reusable grocery bags, because any of them may have been on the floor of my car. The hairbrush that I keep in my car and my windshield visor are on the floor now, and since I don’t want to touch them, I just plan on leaving them there indefinitely.

Watching this You-Tube video initially made me feel a little better, but now I’m scrubbing my hands three times after I touch anything. Soon I may not have any skin left to scrub. The video said the Dawn dish soap works better than anything else, so I used some from a bottle that someone had left in my apartment long before I moved in. The date on it was 2009. After scrubbing my raw, open-sore arms with the stuff, I became paranoid that it was contaminated with god-knows-what and all of my sores were going to get infected, so I doused them with alcohol and went and bought a new bottle.

See? Crazy.

None of this has kept me from running in the woods, though. I’m heading to the mountains tomorrow. I’ll just be scrubbing like crazy afterward.

And searching for ticks.


Goat Cuddling at Caromont Farms

Last year,  Gail Page-Hobbs, the owner of Caromont Farms in Esmont Virginia, put out a request for volunteers to help feed and cuddle goats during her farm’s very busy kidding season. She was shocked by the overwhelming response. Her request quickly went viral. Within three days, all of 360 volunteer slots were full. She hated having to turn people away. She was getting calls from as far away as Québec and California. It surprised her that people were willing to fly thousands of miles just for one four-hour session cuddling goats. You can read an article about last year here.

For 2017, she decided to charge a small ($10) fee to cover the extra staffing costs and help her realize her dream of never having to turn away eager volunteers.

Brian bought our tickets nearly a year in advance. So I’ve been excited about this for a very long time.

When we arrived, Gail greeted us and went over a couple of safety rules (basically, don’t eat or drink in the pens and wash your hands before you do.) She pointed out the hand-washing sink, hand sanitizer and port-a-john and told us we were free to go feed and cuddle goats.

I can’t remember the last time I saw so many happy people in one place. The adorable and playful baby goats had everyone smiling and laughing.

IMG_20170311_111414111_HDR (1)



A couple of hours of excitement wore the little goats out and most of them settled down for a  nap.


I was pretty much in heaven when some goats curled up on me and fell asleep. The tiny one behind me wasn’t tired. He kept jumping on me and the goats that were trying to sleep. It was adorable.

The goats at Caromont farm are treated well, but it costs more to do things ethically. I’m definitely willing to pay a little more to support a place like this.

A quote from the article I referenced above:

“Hobbs-Page also hopes to open the public’s eyes to understanding the cost of artisanal food. Her farm uses non-GMO feed, does not underpay the labor, and does not simply leave the goats at the stockyard, preferring to extensively interview anyone it sells goats to. ‘I’m hoping from all this crazy stuff to be an advocate for people all over the world who are doing it right’.”


 In addition to the nearly 100 baby goats, we saw mama goats, a peacock and peahen, about a half-dozen puppies and dogs (some were in the pens with the baby goats) and a cat.


30 Day Minimalist Challenge (Day 30)

I’m really late with this, but I did finish my 30 day challenge.

30. Wrap-up

We’ve hit the end of our challenge. On day one we asked you to place one item a day into a Donate Box. Today, donate the box. If you’re hesitant to donate the box, you can instead place it in a closet or spare space temporarily. Take items from the box only if you need them, but replace any item taken with a new item to be donated. After a month, items still in the box should be donated.

My stuff went straight to Goodwill and I was glad to have it out of the apartment. There are a few things I still have mixed emotions about for sentimental reasons, but overall it feels good to be free of so much stuff.

img_20170127_104802925_hdrThere was more stuff in the back seat, and I’d already dropped off several boxes of books.


Learning something new turned out to be a good thing. I love knitting and have been spending most of my free time doing it.


30 Day Minimalist Challenge (Days 19, 20 & 28)

19 & 20. Virtual disconnect

I did my three days in a row. It was eye opening to realize how often I reach for my phone throughout the day. I carried a book with me and did a lot more reading than I usually do. I also listened to more podcasts. My favorite was the “Simply Happy” episode of the TED Radio Hour. It also coincidentally tied in very well with this challenge. If you have time, you should listen to it. But in case you don’t, I’ll share some key points with you. According to a recent study that asked people to rate their levels of happiness randomly throughout the day, people felt happiest when they were completely focused on what they were doing, regardless of what that was. Strangely, we’re happier when our minds aren’t wandering.

Simplifying our lives also makes us happier.



28. Don’t Beat Yourself Up. We are our own worst critic. Today, try tackling something you’ve been putting off or avoiding. If you find yourself reaching a challenge or having difficulty with a certain task, step away for a minute. When you feel prepared to tackle the task again, dive in.

I still haven’t changed my name on my passport. This challenge could drag on for months if we wait until I do that. Instead, I decided to tackle something else that I’ve been avoiding: the stuff in my shed. There is a gas fireplace in there that has been there since we sold the house last spring. I put it back on Craigslist. Someone is coming to look at it tomorrow. There was also a card table in there that I added to my donation box, which is now more of a donation pile.