By Phyllis Galowitz
The timing couldn’t have been better. Two days before Thanksgiving, I tripped over the curb in front of Price Chopper as I was planning to do some last minute food shopping, to make dishes to take to our family dinner in Connecticut. How embarrassing! My glasses went flying, the lenses scattered. A crowd quickly encircled me as I lay face down on the sidewalk. Three teen-age boys tried to lift me, while Alan, standing nearby shouted, “Don’t touch her! She may have broken a bone.” It was all so humiliating. I accepted the arms of the boys who hoisted my dead weight. Once on my feet, my glasses in hand, the lenses snapped back in place, I felt fine. Swinging open the doors to Price Chopper, I proceeded to find the few things on my list. Suddenly I felt a searing pain in my knee. “I’ll wait in the car,” I said to Alan and he took the cart to the checkout counter.
There were no signs of anything serious that we could see, just some mud on the sleeves of my jacket and dirt on the knees of my pants. The glasses were scratched beyond repair and I’d need new ones. Other than that, I thought I was just bruised. When I got home, I sat in a chair with my leg up, put ice on the knee that was hurting, and put on an old removable cast that we found in the back of the closet, from a time, long ago, when Alan injured his leg. It certainly couldn’t hurt.
The next morning, feeling more pain, we decided that a visit to the doctor was the thing to do. “We’ll need an x-ray”, he said. The x-ray showed a fractured but undisplaced patella (kneecap). Not so bad…a clean break… It would heal nicely without surgery. So…here I am, my leg in a leg immobilizer that the orthopedist said I must keep on day and night, removing it only to take a shower and being careful not to bend the knee. It’s terribly inconvenient and uncomfortable. I find myself bending (from the waist), my leg extended, to pick something up and needing help to get back on my feet.
The houseplants are crying, “We need you! Doesn’t anyone care about us?” I see their need and I can’t help them. It hurts to move. I sit with my leg on a pillow, on top of the cocktail table and read, watch every movie that the library has, visit friends and family on the laptop, and watch the house deteriorate, the plants languish, pests beginning to attack them.
This morning, feeling much better, I gave my full attention to those needy plants. First the beautiful bay leaf, that every year, about this time, has gotten attacked by one pest or another. I saw the tell-tale holes in the leaves. Under the leaves were groups of tiny, white-winged insects, eating their way through. “For single plant infestations, remove and kill mealy bugs and waxy egg sacs with cotton swabs moistened with 70 percent rubbing alcohol.” (Brooklyn Botanical Garden’s Natural Insect Control). “For larger infestations, lady beetles, particularly cryptolaemus mortrouzieri are an excellent biological control for mealy bugs.”
That was the project for the day. I watered and fed those in need, Alan helping me back on my feet after each time I bent to reach a plant on the floor or clean up the water spills.
It could have been worse. Most of the houseplants are in their dormant stage and don’t require too much care. I’m a zealous caregiver and I’m envious of Eddie P.’s Christmas cactus. She had given me a cutting of her gorgeous plant when I complained that mine never flowered. She started a new one for herself at the same time. Mine is beautiful and healthy looking but there are no signs of bloom; hers is beautiful, healthy and blooming!