Thursday, October 21, 2010


The best way for me to describe the gorgeousness of this day is to tell you I cut the grass just for an excuse to spend some time outside.  It's in the 70s (mid 20s C) and there is a steady, strong breeze that makes all the pines whisper.

We are in the land of Bermuda grass.  Bermuda grows easily from seed down here; it thrives in ungodly heat, can withstand drought and grows well even in poor soil.  The major drawback is that it browns out over the winter, much like zoysia.  The accepted solution to that, we have learned, is to throw down some winter rye seed.  At first we thought this practice, very popular here, was for cosmetic purposes only--no matter what time of year, you can always have a carpet of green.  Lame.  Who wants to be mowing the lawn in the middle of winter?  But when we learned that rye grass also nourishes the soil, we were sold.  The dirt we have here is "soil" only by the most liberal definition of the word. It's half pure clay and half fill sand.  The clay may have some micronutrients for plants blessed with the wherewithal to root in it, but there is little to no organic material.  So we planted the rye, and now it is beginning to grow, verdant and thick.  As long as we have days like this, I'll love mowing it.

I realized I never brought many of you up to date on the hamstring injury I had last May.  I'm happy to report that the leg is entirely normal now, to the point where I've been able to resume my walking routine, which I had neglected since we left Arlington a year and a half ago.  The worst part of that experience was really the wait to see a specialist who could teach me what to do--almost a whole week, during which I navigated on flat floors only via a face-up crawl I'd seen disabled people in Africa use.  (Yes, they really were my inspiration for mobility.  The Peace Corps pays you back in uncountable and unexpected ways.)  That was something of a fun adventure for about a day, and then callus set in in places I'd never dreamed it could be.  A week was more than enough.

The results of the orthopedist visit were dramatic, if a bit anticlimactic, because after all that pain and all that crawling, the solution was so simple.  The doctor asked me if I had crutches.  I said I did, but I couldn't use them because it hurt too much to hold my leg up.  He had me stand facing a table, with my hands on the table.  This I did, with my leg in a position that kept my foot off the floor.  "Straighten your leg and put your foot on the ground," he said.  I did.  And just like that the pain disappeared.  I was on two feet for the first time in a week.

When I got back home I started practicing movement on the crutches.  In less than a minute I saw the that crutches were in the way.  I called the doctor to ask if I had to use them, and he said I did not.  So I put the crutches down, stood up, and voil√†, I was walking.

Turned out that having the leg bent actually works the hamstring, flexes it.  The muscle is relaxed with the leg extended.  Who knew????

It was a few weeks before my leg felt entirely normal, and I had to be careful about some positions that caused a burn where the tear had occurred.  But I was very glad to see that my body can still heal fairly quickly from such a nasty injury.

And how else could I push a mower around, anyway?


thecottagebythecranelakeolof1 said...

Just like You I thought it was the opposite with the hamstring :-) :-) It´s good to know these things if it should ever happen.

Take care!

Ralph said...

And I felt a bit cheated, Christer, that I had to wait so long to learn that. I guess everyone did the best they could, with no orthopedist on duty in the emergency room the day of the injury.

Zoey and Me said...

I have everything else but a hamstring and today we match up on the mowing. I also loved it so much outside in the breeze with temps in the mid 70's that I bought another batch of tomato seedlings from Lowe's and some Sage and turned over the garden on the north side of the house this time so should really be a good start for a winter crop. Now is the time to plant by the way. Not sure it extends as far north as NC. I will be using the sage in my Christmas turkey recipe. I do this every other year or if I get excited and turn the soil or refresh it before Fall. The summers are getting worse here so I stay indoors. Good that you are on the mend. It must feel great!

Ralph said...

You're so lucky to be able to have a winter crop of tomatoes, Z&M! Gets too cold here,unfortunately. I thought about including sage among my herbs, but decided I don't use enough of it to need it. Do you really need to replace it every other year? Even in Arlington, sage could grow into a shrub over several years.

nan said...

so glad you are completely recovered. Your day sounds lovely. We had cold, rain here in upstate New York. Two very different kinds of autumns we are having!

Ralph said...

Oh our day will come, Nan. Just a little later here!

Peewit said...


only just discovered you are back> I don't use a RSS feed so have only been checking mybookmark for you periodically. Glad your hamstring is better. I spent last night in the ER room with my eldest with what we have discovered is a badly bruised humerus but we thought could be a fractured elbow initially. She banged it while changing for gym in the locker room- the penalties of being tall!

Ralph said...

Being tall--tell me about it, Peewit. If one is not careful, one ends up in a permanent crouch. Old, houses overstuffed with kick knacks and are really scary--I'm afraid to move. People tell me to "watch my head," and I just say, "I'm used to it."

Glad you didn't lose hope and continued to check in. I'll do my best....