Thursday, May 29, 2014

Flower explosions in the garden

My mother-in-law gave me a cutting of this antique cabbage rose many years ago and my husband planted it in our back yard, right next to the front backyard gate. There it has thrived and grows plentifully and happily each spring and summer, generous with its lovely blooms and scent.

I used to have "peony envy" and have worked to have a patch of respectable peonies in our backyard, which has meant replanting after rookie mistakes of not knowing that they are dry-soil sun worshippers. Now that the plants are more established, I can enjoy my own peonies and need not envy anyone else's.

My husband built me a "rose patch" where we relocated the rose plants I had all over the place. These are the first offerings this year.

Gardening, something I didn't have any exposure to while growing up, is one of the blessings I've come to have in my life because of living in Ohio. My Abuela Jo (for Josefina) was a famous gardener, who had the loveliest pink roses in her garden as well as many other flowering plants. And my mom just told me that her mother, my Abuela Hebe, also had lovely gardens in her homes and even won a prize for them! I like to think that I inherited their green thumb and while I'm not a very hardworking gardener (my husband often remarks on how little weeding I do!), I really enjoy having and tending to flowering plants (though I don't want anything too fuzzy).

My father used to call our house's garden El jardín mágico and I guess it's still very much magical to me.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

May days

Well, so far, so good. Not having any "breakthrough" episodes of my pervasive arrhythmia has been a welcomed change since the procedure 10 days ago. That's definitely the longest period without an event that I'm used to having, especially since the first two ablations. I'm not getting my hopes up, though, since those breakthroughs are to be expected with the kind of ablation I underwent but it's been a wonderful relief to feel like I'm back to normal. I barely remember how it feels not to have to worry about my heart so this is a good change, indeed.

I do tire very easily and have been taking lots of naps, which Chiquita is very eager and happy to join me in. Nonetheless, I did finish all my grading and only a day late so my students were able to get their grades with everyone else, and I've been able to enjoy these past few days with not much on my plate work-wise to worry about. I do have pending the book orders for my new Explorations in Literary Journalism class, so I've been working on that. I've requested a few books to my public library so I can look them over before deciding whether to order them so I'll be doing that over the next week.

Meanwhile, I decided to go shorter for summer after growing my hair the longest ever, and I also went with my husband on our first joint motorcycle ride of the year yesterday to one of our favorite haunts in Logan, Ohio, where they have a buffet on Saturdays that we like.

My husband took some lovely pictures of the countryside that we rode through, and I must say that while Ohio's winter can last six months and it can be soul-killing in its never-ending cold and gray, when Ohio dresses itself for summer it is simply astoundingly beautiful. Breathtaking, even.

I also did some gardening this weekend, planting tomatoes and peppers in our huerto. Our rhubarb plant gave us enough for me to try my hand at some rhubarb "hand pies" (very much like the pastelillos or turnovers we have in Puerto Rican cooking). They're nothing to write home about but they're a good use of the rhubarb (and of my wonderfully free time!).

Meantime, I'm organizing my scholarly agenda for this summer. My essay on Julia de Burgos' "poetics of subversion" received a "revise and resubmit" and the revision is due in August. I've started to work on my conference presentation at the Hawthorne in the Berkshires meeting in June on the intersections of race and gender in The House of the Seven Gables, and I also have to expand the paper I presented on my father's novel at the Universidad de Turabo in February. I have the "South and the Caribbean" chapter for the end of the year for a collection on the Gothic, and have started rethinking my book manuscript, which got one good and one not-so-good review. The press editor wanted to send it to a third reader but I prefer to address the negative reader's comments before that work goes any further afield.

Last, but never least, my husband and I celebrate 20 years of married life in July and we've made plans to visit bourbon country in Kentucky. He has been there before but I haven't and, while I'm decidedly not the bourbon drinker in the family, I've always been curious to see what he described to me of his trip there more than a decade ago.

So, when life is good--much like Ohio summers--it can be very, very good. In those immortal words of SNL: "Béisbol haz bin berry berry gud to me."

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Peony time!

The beautiful peonies, my favorite summer flower, are starting to bloom, late, like everything else this wet and cold spring (there's been freeze advisories over the past few nights!). It definitely doesn't feel like we've turned the corner toward the end of May.

The peonies also welcomed me back home after my third heart ablation on Friday at the Ross Heart Hospital at OSU. I was released Saturday afternoon since everything was stable. This ablation, an "AFib" ablation, or pulmonary vein ablation, was more complicated than the two prior ones, requiring anesthesia and intubation rather than simple sedation.

While being completely "out" is good, especially since the prior two were quite painful, anesthesia brings its own complications and side effects so it's not a free ride. I had forgotten, for instance, how being awoken from being anesthesized feels like breaking the surface to gasp for air after having spent time in the darkest recesses of the deepest ocean. There's some discomfort and the doctors said they had "burned more than usual" (set off a California wildfire in my heart, no less) so that's to be expected. Mostly, I just feel like a truck ran over me but I'm extremely glad that there were no complications and that I'm back home and in recovery.

Now, we wait. Again. It's a two-week recovery, more or less, and then a month before I can drop one of the heart medications (the more potentially problematic one), and when I get a 30-day event monitor to follow up on my condition. This time we're considering an implanted monitor since I am, of course, violently allergic to the glue used to stick the monitor prongs to skin. I'm just glad there's an alternative. Then I see my specialist again in three months, if nothing happens from now until then that necessitates an earlier visit. Here's to hoping that's the case.

This situation has prevented me from finishing my grading so I'm still slowly plodding through the last of it so I can finally be done with this semester. I had two really good classes (both over-enrolled) and am immensely grateful that I was able to finish them successfully. Once I'm actually done with the grading, then I can look forward to a summer of rest and fun and writing. But not just yet.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Graduation time!

I still remember when my first nephew, Idris Mikel, was a very frustrated baby trying to use the bars of his crib to stand on his own two feet, way before his legs were ready to support him. Now, at 22, Idris is an admirable young man, the pride and joy of his family. That's one reason I didn't think twice when it came time to make plans to attend his college graduation. Though it was a quick trip, it was a very special time and I'm so glad that we all got to spend time together and to celebrate Idris' accomplishments (he graduated cum laude!).

Idris posed for all the traditional pictures--with my mom, with me, with his parents (my sister-in-law and my younger brother), with his girlfriend, with his luminous siblings. It was a very happy time for everyone.

My mom and I stayed at the Mayor's Mansion Inn in Chattanooga, a nineteenth-century house that has been converted to an excellent inn and which was very close to where my nephew lived. We also had the chance to eat at Conga Latin Food, which was superb! I really liked Chattanooga and hope to return in the future to see more of the city and its surroundings.

The return home was rather accidented since the Budget rental Fiat 500 I picked up in Atlanta ended up with a flat tire and had to be exchanged for a horrid Caravan in Chattanooga and we almost missed our flights and I was told I wouldn't be charged $8.49 a gallon for returning the Caravan without a full tank but I was charged that preposterous amount and it was all very stressful -- but all is well that ends well and, thankfully, we all made it home in one piece. Still, that was just one bad thing (I'm never renting a car from Budget again) in a weekend filled with lots of joy and celebration!