Watchful Waiting

February 22, 2012

Americans are accustomed to getting the necessities and luxuries in life when they want them and where they want them,  as fast as possible.

We have pizzas, with accompanying cinnamon sticks (why?) delivered to our houses  within 30 minutes… lest we starve to death.

To keep us looking good, our dry cleaning gets the one hour Martinizing treatment. Whatever that is.

Then you have some 50 odd choices of fast food restaurants 24 hours a day seven days a week. Yet some people get provoked when their french fry order is delayed 30 seconds.

We go to the 10 minute oil change store where we don’t even have to get out of the car,  so we can continue to send text messages to our friends and get responses at warp speed.

Americans you see don’t like to wait for anything. If we want to know something about a subject, this internet provides instant knowledge of any topic. In the old days, you had to go to the library and look up information in the card catalog and then find the book, that was probably out of date.

This instant gratification is so part of our existence that when we hear the term “Watchful Waiting” there is an internal disconnect. Wait, what? Waiting… what is that?

Watchful waiting  is an approach to a medical problem in which time is allowed to pass before medical intervention or therapy is used. During this time, repeated testing may be performed.

Often watchful waiting is recommended in situations with a high likelihood of self-resolution, in situations where there is high uncertainty concerning the diagnosis, and in situations where the risks of intervention or therapy may outweigh the benefits.

Many men first hear the term in their 50s when they have problems with their prostate. They are given medicine to relieve the symptoms and told to have a period of watchful waiting to see what developes. Happily most prostate problems end up being benign.

Currently, I am watchfully waiting on my back pain situation. We ( Dr. Zorro and I, but mainly Dr. Z.) have just about eliminated all the possible causes of my back/side/ belly pain that might require immediate medical assistance. The treatment of the remaining suspected causes is to permit the affliction to run its course while the symptoms are treated with medication.

Having lived in the current we want it here and now culture, this watchful waiting approach is somewhat new to me.

Most other occupants of this planet  watchfully wait for nearly everything. Maybe it is a cup of rice provided at the end of the day as a meal, or waiting a year and a half for the extraction of a rotted tooth. Half the world residents watch and wait for life’s needs everyday. It is an uncomfortable, harsh existence as Dr. Z  advised me following his recent medical assistance missionary trip to Haiti.

So while it is not nearly in the same category as many third world residents experience, I am in the watchful waiting mode to see when this back pain problem clears up. I just hope it will clear up soon!


Midwinter orange carnival

February 14, 2012

Well, we are about half way through winter. Hardly a winter at all is some parts of the country, especially when compared to last year. In southwest Florida, we have experienced two cold waves but not much else. Here in Desoto county the trees are a couple of weeks ahead of themselves and the growers are worried that a late chill  would kill the early blooms and reduce substantially next year’s yield,

The current crop of  valencias hangs heavy on the trees and will be harvested next month.

We have also discovered that the pond in the northwest corner of the pasture is home to at least a couple of alligators. When we pass by on the way to the groves, they give us a watchful hello. This is Alice, or Albert, I can’t get close enough to tell. (even if I could, I am not exactly sure what to look for!) Regardless, she is about 7 feet long and can often be seen sunbathing in the 75 degree weather.

Compounding my efforts to help with the harvest and get to know Alice better is this mysterious backache I have developed. I first I thought It might be a kidney stone revisit. But tests ruled that out. Dr. Z thinks it might be a herniated disc so for the time being I am on meds and taking some physical therapy. I hope I recover soon as there are lots more oranges to pick and juice to be made.

Orange Juice made easy

February 3, 2012

Have you ever seen that TV commercial which shows the woman in the supermarket reaching through the cold case into the orange grove for a carton of fresh Florida orange juice?  A neat trick.

The magic of media makes it look easy to get that delicious juice. In fact, it takes a lot of effort and a long time to get that fruit and juice from the tree to your glass.

Did you know that it takes five years to grow a tree to be mature enough to begin producing fruit consistently?

Once a bloom is set and an orange is born, it takes nearly a year for it to be ready to pick. During that time the orange  is subjected to the possibility of destructive hurricanes, killing cold, pests and disease.

Now, as the cold of winter has set in the north, here in Florida, we are  picking the fruit that grew last year.

The oranges are picked by hand,  loaded onto trucks and shipped to the  juice plant, where they are squeezed and become juice the next day.

So, enjoy that glass of fresh Florida orange juice any time you want.  America’s citrus growers work to make it as easy as reaching into the supermarket’s cold case.


To maintain quality control and help get this year’s  oranges harvested, I will be taking a few days off  from writing Woody’s Blog….Woody’s Blog will return on February 14th.

Be good to yourself and drink some Florida orange juice today.

Happy Ground Hog Day!

February 2, 2012

Happy Groundhog Day!
Unlike nasty, mammalian moles, groundhogs are cute, cuddly,  furry rodents that serve some useful purpose other than building tunnels and tearing up my backyard. Groundhogs are better weather predictors than those meteorologists on channel 2 and they actually turn a profit for their promoters. especially in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.  So much so that groundhogs have a special day set aside for them.
February 2nd has become one of those days in America where the popular celebrations are far more significant than the original “purpose” of the day. Possibly it is due to the success of the movie, ” Groundhog Day” with Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. I love that movie and watch it every year. Did you know that in the movie Murray “lives’ Groundhog Day 38 times?
Donna hates it.
She says it is stupid because the same things happen over and over again. I say, that is what makes it so funny.
Punxsutawney Phil is a marmot.  On February 2 each year, the town of Punxsutawney celebrates their beloved groundhog with a festive atmosphere of music and food. During the ceremony, which begins well before  sunrise, Phil emerges from his temporary home on Gobbler’s Knob.(During the rest of the year, Phil lives in the town library.)
If you have never been to Punxsutawney Pennsylvania, you are  among the overwhelming majority of the people in the country. I have been to Punxsutawney one time and let me tell you there is not much there. It is located in rural mountainous western Pennsylvania. It is about 50 miles down the road from Driftwood which was where my mother grew up some ninety years ago. These isolated Pennsylvania coal towns have not changed much in all that time. So once a year, when the media world turns its attention to the midwinter diversion there is excitement and money on everyone’s mind.

According to the tradition, if Phil sees his shadow and returns to his hole, then we will have six more weeks of winter. If Phil does not see his shadow, spring will arrive early.  This year with all the snow and ice, Phil might just want to stay in his hole and keep warm.

Now,other communities have also tried to capture some of this spotlight… and media cash. We have seen dozens of cities and towns around the world vying for a bit of the groundhog magic money.Some don’t even use “real” groundhogs. There is General Beauregard Lee in Atlanta, Wisconsin Jimmy, Arizona Phil, Florida Phyliss and Chester of St. Louis to name a few. There are even groundhog  “imposters” in Berlin,Germany and I think the Japanese have one as well.

Well, whether he sees his shadow or not spring is still a few weeks away, so if you are too overwhelmed by all this, ice, snow and Groundhog excitement, make a fire in the fireplace, get some popcorn and watch the movie. You will like it.