Life feels nuts right now. It has been a beautiful autumn so far, but things just don’t feel right. World news, politics, my work, my sister (a month in the hospital and counting) and my kids and home all seem unsettled and uncomfortable.
The youngest developed a fever on Wednesday, and the man about the place and I have been taking turns nursing him. We are worried he has pneumonia again. Every year about this time he gets a fever he cannot shake and it turns out to be atypical pneumonia. In the ER I will suggest they check him for it, and they will laugh at me and my non-doctors diploma self and pat me on the head and tell me he has no symptoms for it, so they will US him and take blood and look everywhere until finally a chest x-ray shows he has pneumonia. We get antibios and are on our way. Everyone shaking their heads saying his lungs sounded fine and his O2 levels were fine. Last go round, they decided something must be wrong with the way his body is built and further investigation was necessary. This included discovering a shadowy area in him, and a worry about lymphoma that led to a CT scan. In the end, he is just a twisty child, evidenced by all his troubles at birth (malrotated bowel -surgeries-22 days in NICU… not a nice story, but with a happy ending). He has extra bits and twisty bits and it shouldn’t be an issue, nor should it cause the pneumonia.
Anyway, as this story is already too long, we always wonder what to do. Everyone around us right now is ill with stomach bugs and fevers and coughs and so on. So it is logical that he simply has a bug. We hope he just has a bug and will be over it soon. At this point we can bring the fever down when it gets too much for him, but most of the time he is happy and content and he is still eating, which is much better than he is when he usually gets pneumonia. So we wait and watch and pray.
But with a sick child, work gets behind and the schedule goes a muck. We even forgot parent conferences this morning. We are feeling tired and worn ourselves, and are a bit short with each other all around. Helping the eldest with homework and trying to get yard work done and wood stacked and gardening done at this busy time of year… juggling lots of balls, and trying to strike a balance right now.
Our yard is full of bounty right now. Chestnuts, pears, last of the tomatoes, scuppernong grapes and these:
I have to be cautious going to the laundry at this time of year because these are all over the ground, and when you step on them, because you didn’t see them over your basket of laundry, you are going to roll. These are Black Walnuts. They are covered in this green case, which slowly gets sodden and mucky.
Once the cases disintegrate, there is the very hard shell of the black walnut. These are hard nuts to crack, and harder even to get nutmeats out. We usually do not do anything with them, although every year I think: This will be the year I will get the better of them! They are great in ice cream, or in banana bread. But they are really tough to harvest. The man who we bought the place from said the only way he could ever get into them was driving over them with the lawn tractor. The squirrels know how to get at them though.
So here it is, the black walnut in all its glory. This tree is a nice specimen to have around the place. We had another lovely one that blew down in Hurricane Fran. We took the part that broke off and it’s wood has been used to make lovely things. The wood is very lovely and sought after for woodworking. The trunk left behind was a jungle gym for the boys until it finally rotted and fell over. The nut shells themselves are often sliced to make basket decorations or buttons. (See the walnut shells here used in a lovely basket)
In olden times, men used to make a dye from the walnut shells for their hair.. the cases stain anything, and the boys often have dark brown fingers much of the autumn from using the nuts as baseballs.. after all, we have such a lack of real baseballs around here, lol!
Hoping to get an autumnal walk in tomorrow.. but there is a bathroom to scrub and some marking to do, ironing and laundry to finish, stews to make, sick boy to read with, and a hubby who just confessed to not feeling so well himself. I think I will throw all the doors and windows open tomorrow and ask the cool air to cleanse us, and rejuvenate us for another week.
Nuts… nuts, nuts.. and my favorite ones are still to come. Stay tuned for part IV.