Porches & Asp Sting

Posted in Eternal Love | 4 comments

The trailer house was ready to go, but Frank and I realized that it needed airing out with all of the windows and doors open.

A make-your-eyes-water preservative, if I remember right formaldehyde, used on the paneling inside the trailer made the whole house stink, so even though we were ready to move in, we aired it out for several days.

The trailer home had two entries, the back door, and the front door. The only way to enter the trailer doors were with some wooden four-step moveable steps which did not have handrails. Frank and I knew that as soon as possible, we needed to build some real porches on the front and back of the trailer house.  Frank’s folks owned some bottomland on the Colorado River.  The railroad trestle that crossed their land and then the river had burned, and once rebuilt, the old railroad trestle ties had been stacked and left on Frank’s folk’s property for them to use for fencing, etc.

Frank’s parents told us that we could use them to make a porch on our trailer home.  These railroad ties were not only large but heavy and hard to carry.  Frank and his Dad made several trips in his Dad’s truck to move the railroad ties from the bottomland to our trailer home because of the size and weight of the railroad ties. Railroad ties are about seven to nine inches by ten to twelve inches thick, ten to twelve feet long, and the average weight of each railroad tie is 200 lbs.

Once we had all of the ties stacked in our front yard, the fun began. Frank stacked the railroad ties like Lincoln logs against the side of the trailer house to building a four-sided porch on the front of our home, then when he decided it was high enough, Frank put ties solid across the top of the porch leaving small spaces between them for drainage.  Next five, four by fours went up with brace boards around their top and bottom, railings added between them, and a roof built on top. Frank made and attached new permanent stairs to the porch so we could step up from the ground to the porch, but we did not have handrails on the steps for a while. I painted the steps, four by fours, porch railings, etc. with dark brown glossy paint. The roof of the porch made of sheets of tin did not require painting, so we were done with that porch.

The back porch was huge.  We used a lot of two by fours and four by fours to make the deck, and then we closed in the walls halfway up with plans to screen in the top half when we saved more money.  We made a mistake with the deck by using particleboard for the floor.  Even though we painted it with outdoor paint, since we were living on the Gulf Coast, moisture made that particleboard bubble up from underneath, and it looked like a landscape of valleys and hills.  Trust me; it became a disaster.

Off and on, Frank and I were clearing a little of the wooded area behind our trailer home.  It was a unique rectangular area but with plenty of trees. The small saplings needed clearing out so we could walk back into the wooded area. Lots of vines covered the large threes and looked like grapevines. While Frank used his chainsaw to cut down the saplings, I would use a small ax to cut the creepers at the bottom of the trees, then pull them from the sides of trees and pile them in a place we had designated as a burn pile.

The Asp Sting

After working hard clearing the triangle for several days, I noticed that there was an oozing raised area on the inside of my forearm. This area was two inches long and a half of an inch wide.  Not knowing what it could be, I asked Frank to have a look at it. While Frank looked at my arm, I asked him if it could be an asp sting, but he reminded me that when an asp stings you, it hurts badly.

At dusk, Frank and I went inside to clean up and get supper on the table. While in the shower, I noticed that the hot water made the welt on my arm feel like it was on fire, and then it started itching. I decided to scrub it good with soap and a washrag hoping it would make it heal over when it got dry.  Once dried off from my shower, I put some antibiotic ointment on the area, then dressed and cooked supper.

For the next couple of days, every time I went outside in the heat, the welt itched like crazy, and I noticed that other bumps started to appear all over my body. At nearly thirty years old, this was a new experience for me, and the only thing that would stop the itching was Calamine Lotion, which I dabbed all over my body. At night I put on one of Frank’s long sleeve shirts trying to stop the spread of the welts, but the nights were miserable. Although Frank wanted me to go to the Doctor, I told him no until I woke up one morning with one of my ears itching, swelling, and turning purple. Enough was enough.

When Frank and I walked into the Doctor’s waiting room, heads turned.  Not sure if it had anything to do with the fact that I had Calamine Lotion all over my face and ear or not, but people moved away from me when I sat down.  The nurse called my name, then Frank and I went to an exam room and waited for the Doctor.

When the Doctor came in, he looked at me, trying not to laugh, but then he asked me, “Mrs. Henderson, do you have Poison Ivy?”

I answered him, “No, Sir, I do not.”

The Doctor had a puzzled look on his face as I explained to him that I was not allergic to Poison Ivy, but I was stung by something as I  pulled grapevines off of the trees.

After the Doctor finally stopped laughing long enough to speak, he said to me, “Mrs. Henderson, I am fairly certain those vines on the trees were not grapevines, but Poison Oak.”

While I repeated to the Doctor that I was not allergic to Poison Ivy, Frank was trying hard to stifle his laughter, but not doing a perfect job of it. Of course, I gave Frank my you-best-stop-laughing-mister stare, as the Doctor told me, “Mrs. Henderson, Poison Oak is different than Poison Ivy, and I would say that you are very allergic to the Poison Oak.”

Frank could not contain his laughter any longer then burst out laughing! All I could do was stare at him, thinking to myself that when he was asleep that night, I was going to rub my Calamined Poison Oak covered body all over him. Not sure if Frank read my mind by my stare or what, but he stopped laughing immediately.

The Doctor prescribed a Medrol Dose Pak to be taken orally for six days and hydrocortisone cream to apply to the raised areas along with the Calamine lotion. Frank and I stopped at the Pharmacy in Wharton, Texas, to fill the medications, and I could not wait to pop those pills into my mouth then put more cream and lotion on my body.

On the way home, Frank stared straight ahead at the road in silence, except for an occasional chuckled followed by an, “I’m sorry, Lou.”

Once we arrived home, I headed to the bathroom and took a cold shower then applied the Calamine lotion and hydrocortisone cream all over my body and face. After I fanned the Calamine lotion dry, which seemed for eternity, I put on one of Frank’s long sleeve cotton white dress shirts and a pair of his pajama pants. I looked like something out of a horror movie, but for a brief moment, nothing itched.

While I was in the shower, Frank called his folks about sending Scotty home, but they asked for him to spend the night, so Frank fixed the two of us some supper. We tried to talk while eating, but Frank could not handle a normal conversation because every time he looked at me, he started laughing then I would laugh with him.

Since it had been a long day, after supper, we decided to go to bed. As I climbed into the bed, Mr. Dimples grabbed his pillow then headed towards the door of the bedroom. I set up in bed then asked him, “Where are you going, Frank?”

Frank’s reply, “Nancy, I love you, but I don’t want that stuff all over me.  I am going to sleep on the couch.”

Of course, that was followed by Frank laughing and dodging pillows as he ran out of the bedroom with me yelling, telling him he should make sure to sleep with one eye opened.

It took two weeks to completely heal my body of the Poison Oak because it had gotten into my bloodstream, and I could not go outside in the heat to do anything, but it finally healed up.  I had “The Oak” as we referred to it two more times that summer, but I got on top of it quickly with Calamine Lotion and Hydrocortisone Cream.  Who would guess at the age of thirty, I would suddenly develop a new allergy.

Frank and I got the woods cleared as much we wanted that summer, and then we relaxed some to enjoy our new home. As with all things, we would have to make adjustments to some things, but with God’s help, we overcame the obstacles in our paths.

It takes two

<<<Book I  |  Next Chapter >>>











Visits: 628


  1. I figure those porches outweighed the trailer lol….. Did Frank call you the queen of denial? I don’t blame him for relocating. It must have been hard trying to sleep through all the itching and other discomfort!

    • Those porches weighed a lot for sure.
      Yes, it was hard to sleep with me itching and scratching, lol. Still to this day, I am not sure if he knew those vines were Poison Oak, but he wasn”t allergic to it so probably not.
      Thank you for commenting Kim.
      God Bless You My Friend,

  2. That was quite the ordeal! I can’t imaging–and don’t know that I want to–how you must have felt during the healing time. It’s amazing the power in a little plant. I have never seen poison oak, but have seen tons of poison ivy and have always managed to steer clear of it. It’s definitely not something I want to experience. Glad it didn’t take too long to heal. When I was on holidays a couple of years ago in a place where poison ivy overruns a lot os space, we met a man who had come into contact with poison ivy in April and he was still a mess in August. I felt sorry for him. I hope he eventually got clear of it.

    • Diane, I have been allergic to Poison Oak ever since then. I am very careful to never touch it or anything it has touched.
      Thank you for reading and commenting.
      God Bless You,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.