To-Do-Stephanie-headshotBy 9:30 a.m., I am back home from my workout at the Port Royal YMCA. The peace of my one-hour pool isometrics followed by a quarter mile lap swim is unmatched. No talking, no listening, no thinking. Bliss. Other than how many laps have I completed, I am free of this world. But to be sure I’m not interrupted with the work of trying to remember how many laps I’ve completed, I devise a lap counting method that needs no words in my head. Two swim shoes, two flip flops, goggles, a knee block, and my snorkel mask line up neatly across the edge where I just slipped into the cool sparkling water. At the end of each lap, I move one item slightly to the left and at the end of seven I move them each back to the right. I’m so proud, no one knows what I am doing…or do they?

In the side yard of our house, I get out of my car, gather my purse, “Y” bag of wet things and enter the sun porch with a smile on my face and in my heart. Then wham bam the “to do” list I joyfully pushed to the recesses of my mind pops forward like the surprise stop sign in the hands of a traffic cop managing a lane closure I thought I would easily get through.

Brutus is barking and tap dancing on the ceramic tile porch floor. Immediately, I’m hit with the miss-alignment on the house. Unlike the simplicity of the pool which I don’t have to maintain, the dog needs a walk, the cats let me know their litter needs changing, the front porch onion delivery needs to be brought into the cool of the kitchen, the dishwasher needs emptying, the lingering non-dishwasher dishes need washing, the bed isn’t made, and the clothes washer calls out to the newest pile of dirty clothes. Then there’s the ingredients on the kitchen counter for a week now that are supposed to turn into gluten-free muffins, as well as the ingredients set out for “weed-death by vinegar salt and soap” I’ve yet to combine let alone use, the curious disappearance of the Neeme Oil I need to spray on something white wrapped around one branch my delicate and finally fruitful Myers Lime tree, and the daily watering of my newly planted Gardenias which are just out of sprinkler range. I also need to try to move the cumbersome items now stacked in front of the second refrigerator in the garage holding the fresh picked corn I want to cook for dinner, get our beloved Genesis listed on Autotrader, but before setting the price I need to call the warranty company to see if we can get a refund, that is after I find the paper work with the phone number. But what I really want to do first is change clothes, make a smoothie to head off my after-workout impending low blood sugar spiral, and listen to the end of the NPR program that has totally got me wrapped. My head spins like in a cartoon. Like children and husbands, everything is crying out, “do me first.” For my own sanity, I want it all off my list now. I’m exhausted before I start and wonder if the staff of Downton Abbey makes house calls.

Unbelievably, an hour and a half later, I manage to get most of the things done, if not seriously underway. The dog is back asleep on his bed, the cats are back eliminating in their litter, and I pick up a gluten-free muffin fresh from the oven. With a cup of reheated coffee, I saunter outside to take my place in the white rocker in our tiny backyard under the delicate mimosa tree. Of course, before I can sit, the dead stuck on mimosas flowers need to be removed from the seat. Now I can sit back, admire the lushness of the tropical garden that surrounds our historic home, beam at our tiny and somewhat neglected vegetable garden a few feet in front of me, and relax to the deep tone of the wind chime played by the rising marsh breeze from across the street.

My attention drills down another notch as a deep-throated frog and an unknown creature chatter in the thick vegetation off the deck to my left. Then the buzz and screech of a table saw from the house under construction across the street pulls me out of the hidden life in the shrubs. Pale yellow siding changes lengths under the saw to accommodate the varying dimensions of the sides and windows. The tide must be low I then note, as the marsh and the distant river beyond the new house are all I can see. If the tide was higher, pockets of river water would punctuate the verdant grass and reflect the sky above. No worry, to me, it’s breathtaking at any height.

I finish my muffin and place the muffin cup and the napkin on the table. If I’m lucky, I’ll get my fifteen minutes of allowed direct sun. Though clouds are scattered above me, I’m loosing my fear of being out in Old Sol. Five years after my melanoma operation, my arm still tells me everyday to be careful. The large diamond shaped scar at my elbow is like a branding. But my doctors keep reminding me that I am a very lucky woman. Not everyone catches this kind in time. I remind myself, I’m here, healthy and loving my new life. After some storms, there actually are pots of gold at the end of rainbows.

Other than the calendar, the temperature and the height of the plants, I realize it’s June for one other reason. The Flies. We have already survived the endless pollen and cascading oaks leaves, the squiggles, and the love bugs. Now I am surrounded and enveloped by flies. They want my muffin wrapper, the napkin I covered it in, my coffee, which I drink black, and my skin…at least anywhere the muffin touched it. Swat, slap, swish. They aren’t going away. Then I remember a Pinterest tip; flies don’t like mint. So I grab my terra cotta pot of mint and plop it on the small garden table next to my chair. I wait. They laugh and continue to swarm. Then I remember one other trick I had been meaning to try, something about an apple and cloves. Am I annoyed enough to get up? YES!! I leave my oasis and head to the kitchen to prepare my next attack. By the time I get back to the rocker and the table full of files with my clove-studded apple on a saucer to enjoy a few more minutes of break time, my finance, Paul, drives up. Break time is over. Hugging, kissing and conversation start back up. Ideas and stories bounce in and out our brains, and as we walk inside even more items are added to the to-do list. Alas, it all starts over.

An hour later from inside the sun porch, I see the lone clove-studded red apple by the rocking chair. I can’t tell if the dark spots are cloves or flies. But since my focus shifted on to other subjects yet again, the flies are no longer on my radar. And even though one more thing is off my to-do list, I don’t really care if the apple worked or not.

San Diego born but not raised, Stephanie Austin Edwards returned to her Beaufort roots in the 1990s. After a long show business career in New York, she is now a writer who focuses on short stories and novels, teaches writing workshops and is the facilitator of a writer’s group since 2002. 
Her first novel, What We Set In Motion, will be available in the fall of 2015.