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Hi. My name is Diana. I have suffered for several years with foot neuropathy as well as back pain, neck pain, and dizziness. I had trouble standing or walking long distances. It made it difficult to go to my grandkids football games or school functions. I have tried multiple remedies to include orthopedics and medications. Nothing worked for me. While reading a magazine, I came across an ad for Dr. Bigbie’s neuropathy program. I made an appointment, and it was the best decision of my life. I have been on the neuropathy program for twelve weeks and I am now able to stand and walk for long periods. I have also lost twenty pounds and my back pain is not waking me up at night anymore. I have most of my feeling back in my feet and feel I am eightyfive percent improved. I am ecstatic and highly recommend this program. A special thank you to Dr. Bigbie and his staff.

Hi. My name is Tammy. I came to Dr. Bigbie’s office a month and a half ago suffering with chronic neck pain that I have had for twenty-five years while serving thirty years in the military. I can now sleep at night, I can play eighteen rounds of golf with no pain, and my life is improved all the way around. The treatment on the cervical decompression machine, spinal adjustments, and the supplements have been wonderful. I thank Bigbie Chiropractic. They changed my life.

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Trust. What does that word mean to you? Often you hear or see the saying, “In God we Trust.” This saying is even printed on our United States currency. As we journey through the Lenten season heading towards the Easter celebration, I am reminded that even Jesus Christ had trust issues with his disciples. Each one of the disciples broke His trust just like Jesus predicted. The ultiNoah Shevchik kee mate deception was by Judas who ps Biff, Lyric and Daisy sold out Jesus for only 30 pieces under control durin g a recent visit to Au of silver. burn. Trust by Miriam Webster’s definition is, “ assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.” When you have trust with someone, it is an immensely powerful bond that provides piece of mind to both parties. However, when trust is broken it can take a very, long time to rebuild it. Personally, I am a sinner, and break God’s trust. I am thankful that through repentance, forgiveness and most importantly, because He sent His son to die for our sins, I am forgiven for my transgressions. He lifts the burden from my shoulders. Now, imagine if there was no one to cleanse and lift that burden of sin away from our lives. I shudder at the thought. Much like I am forgiven for my sins, I must also forgive those who have sinned against me or broken my trust. In my experience this is not an easy task, but one that can be done through prayer, repentance, and the softening of a bitter heart. All that, plus a little help from my friend up above. It feels wonderful to be free. In God we Trust. Thanks for reading,

Todd Shevchik

PUBLISHER & EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Todd Shevchik toddshevchik@gmail.com

ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Tracy Tuten tracy.tuten@outlook.com 803-603-8187

DIRECTOR OF SALES Donna Shevchik shev26@aol.com 803-518-8853

GRAPHIC DESIGNERS Jane Carter, Kim Curlee

EDITOR Kristi Antley lexlifeeditor@gmail.com EDITOR EMERITUS Allison Caldwell

WEBSITE DESIGNER Paul Tomlinson ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT Cam Soltysiak CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Candace Brown, Kristen Carter, Wendy McAlister, Jackie Perrone, Marcy Roberts, Marilyn Thomas, Brandon Watson, Kim Becknell Williams

CONTACT US: 5483 Sunset Blvd., Unit G, Lexington, SC 29072 • 803.356.6500 info@lexingtonlifemagazine.com

ley, ik, Kristi Ant Todd Shevch Cam Soltysiak n, te Tu y Trac chik, Donna Shev Kim Curlee,

contents Features

Columns

16 From Struggle to Strength-The Warrior PATHH Program 22 Easter Egg Fun for the Whole Family 26 Celebrating Your Pet’s Life and Honoring Their Memory 32 Low Energy? Here’s How to Fix It 36 The Power of Getting Lost 42 Do I Really Need It? 46 Spotlight - Charles W. Harmon 52 Planning a Vegetable Garden

11 Faith Matters 63 David Clark

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Departments 9 From the Publisher 10 Events 13 Lexington Leader 58 Spice of Life

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MARCH Saturday, March 13th Town of Lexington Shamrock Parade and Concert Main Street, Lexington, 2:00 p.m.-5:30 p.m. Bring the whole family out to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in downtown Lexington, beginning with a parade at 2:00 p.m. and concert at 3:30-5:30 p.m. Saturday, March 20th Lexington Firefighters Spring Festival 107 W. Main St., Lexington, 2:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. Join the Lexington Firefighters for a free afternoon of music benefiting the Jeff Chavis House/Burn Foundation of American. Donations accepted; food, beer and wine sales will also benefit the Jeff Chavis House. Monday, March 29th Lexington Woman’s Club 37th Annual Golf Tournament Country Club of Lexington, 1066 Barr Rd., Lexington, 11:00 a.m. A portion of the proceeds from this event will be donated to the Lexington County Sheriff’s Foundation to further the purchase of ballistic plates to enhance vest safety for front-line deputies and school resource officers. Proceeds will also support college scholarships for qualifying graduation seniors enrolled in Lexington School District One high schools and one graduate of the Lexington One Adult Education Program planning to continue his/her education. For more information, schedule and applications for golfers and sponsors visit lexwc.org/community-involvement or contact Melisa McLeod at 803-629-2222 or melisa@mcleodcare.com.

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EVENTS MAY BE CANCELLED OR POSTPONED, CONFIRM WITH EVENT ORGANIZERS Submit your event info five weeks in advance to lexlifeevents@gmail.com. Events will be included as space permits. 10 | LEXINGTON LIFE | March 2021

Thank you for voting us Best Place to Buy Homeowner’s Insurance!

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Pastor Pat Riddle St. Stephen’s Evangelical Lutheran Church Dear Lexington Friends, One thing I have discovered since my Mother passed away late last year is that many of the things she said to me have continued to flow over my heart and through my soul. I suspect for me that is part of the healing process. As I was walking our dog Max on a recent clear crisp morning I remembered her smile as she taught me this verse, “March came in like a roaring lion with rain and ice and snow, will it go out like a gentle lamb is what I’d like to know.” March is just around the corner causing me to ponder the origins of that rhyme I have come to love. Like most everyone these days, I went to the internet and discovered this information in an article on Colonial & Early American Women. The roots of this rhyme run deep colonial American as the expression “March came in like a lion” appears in Ames Almanack in 1740 (the first almanac printed in the British North American colonies). Founder and future president John Adams writes in his Diary in 1788, “The month (March) comes in like and lion, and according to the farmer’s proverb it must go out like a lamb.” With Mom growing up on the farm and coming from a family of devoted Almanac readers I am relatively certain how the rhyme made it into our family consciousness. Nevertheless, as the verse says I am less certain this year as to how March will arrive and go out. Will it be in Lion or Lamblike fashion? I just do not know what the future holds. The good news is that even in these uncertain times I am certain that our loving God holds us in hands of grace. The prophet Isaiah writes in chapter 41: Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. n 119 North Church Street Lexington, SC 29072 803-359-6562 Join us for in person worship Sundays at 8:30 and 11:00 in the Sanctuary, 9:45 in the gym and Wednesdays at 12:30 in the Sanctuary or watch us on YouTube at www.sslc.org.

Happy Easter!

From Lexington Life Magazine lexingtonlife.com

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Lexington Baptist Church Hosts

9 or 11am blowfish stadium lexingtonbaptist.org/easter

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by Jackie Perrone

Hugh Rogers Hugh Rogers has been known for decades as a Lexington booster, ready and willing to support worthy causes and help his community. Lately, he says, he has taken that to the extreme. “I have become Lexington Medical Center’s best customer,” he says. “I’m trying out all their cardiology systems, and believe me, their team is the best.” At age 90, this local attorney still goes to his office every day, serving law cases that suit his skills and referring to others the ones not his specialty. The year 2020 was challenging for everyone, and Hugh faced heart problems that needed LexMed’s best services. He now sports a new arterial valve, and his hobby list is headed by cardiac rehab. He’s glad to be back at his desk and has no plans to leave it soon. “These days I am on the job at Jim Snell’s building, across from the Old Mill building. That suits me just fine, as it is easy access to she-crab soup. My practice is mostly what we lawyers call transactional actions: contracts, probate, wills. In the old days, we took on just about everything that came in the door.” It would be hard to find any Lexington public service which has not profited from Hugh Rogers’ leadership. Mayor 1967-1975. Helped establish Chamber of Commerce and served as its first president, 1958. Board member at Lexington County Library and S. C. Library. “Paul Harris Fellow” of Lexington Rotary Club. See a need? Get busy and make it happen. That sums up his public life. He enjoys memories of a slower, simpler life in rural Lexington decades ago. “I was a child of the depression, growing up on a small farm just outside town,” he says. “Everybody worked. On Saturdays we all went to the Columbia Curb Market, selling produce on Assembly Street in Columbia.” When Hugh Rogers was mayor in the 1960s, Lexington was not the fast-growing community it is today. Not much was going on other than farming. “We needed jobs, and we worked on bringing manufacturing into the community; Allis-Chalmers, Horsman Dolls, Litton.” He worked closely with the Caughman brothers, Hampton and Raymond, in getting Lexington State Bank established. With the arrival of Interstate 20, the Mungo Company led a parade of developers who have transformed the landscape. Rogers sees no sign of that letting up, as long as they can obtain more open land for buildings. He also mentions the Lexington school system, calling it “a Harvard-class education in our public schools.” As for problems, traffic was never an issue in two-stoplighttown Lexington 50 years ago. n lexingtonlife.com

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Happy Malcom | Chapin, SC

Lose a Little. Gain a Lot. Your body will thank you for it. Losing a little weight — just 10 or 15 pounds — can make a big difference in your health. Modest weight loss can improve your health in the following ways: Reverse or postpone diabetes Lower your blood pressure

Need a Doctor? If you’re overweight or concerned about your health, talk to your family physician. Choose one from the Lexington Medical Center network of care. Visit LexMed.com/Doctors.

Lower your risk for breast cancer after menopause Allow you to quit some of your medications A recent survey shows more than 70 percent of American adults are overweight or obese. Being overweight or obese leads to health problems such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. While it can seem overwhelming to start a weight-loss journey, take heart. Losing just a few pounds can improve your health significantly.

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St ruggle by Wendy McAlister

STRENGTH FROM

TO

Warrior PATHH is a

transformative, lifelong,

post-traumatic growthbased training program for combat veterans and first responders.

16 | LEXINGTON LIFE | March 2021

Blythewood’s Big Red Barn Retreat is now host to the Warrior PATHH program, a progressive and alternative training for healing combat veterans and first responders suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A ribbon-cutting ceremony on January 15 marked the program’s grand opening. The 18-month program is designed to enable these heroes to transform times of deep struggle into profound strength and growth through an approach called “post-traumatic growth” (PTG).

Local training is led by program director and retired Command Sergeant Major Lamont “Chris” Christian and his blended team of trained combat veteran and civilian Warrior PATTH instructors who have all walked the road from struggle to strength. Chris served in multiple combat units across the Army and in positions of military authority from private to the most senior enlisted soldier of a military base as command sergeant major. A month after his retirement in 2018, one of his four children committed suicide. He struggled to help his wife and children cope with the loss while grappling with his own grief and began to self-isolate. It was around this time that he was called in to lead the local Warrior PATTH program and credits the shift in aiding to pull him out of a dark period of uncertainty. The original Warrior PATTH program

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was born in May 2014 at Boulder Crest Retreat Virginia in an effort to ensure that combat veterans and their families had what they required to live great lives -– full of passion, purpose, and service. Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, more than 2.8 million American men and women have deployed to war zones around the world. The post 9/11 conflicts represent the longest stretch of war in American history and have taken a tremendous toll in terms of “both visible and invisible wounds,” according to a report published by the Warrior PATHH program. Approximately 30 percent of these soldiers are struggling with PTSD (a clinical diagnosis by a mental health professional) or combat stress (struggling with the same symptoms of PTSD but lacking an official diagnosis). According to the report, we have now lost more warriors to suicide at home than on the battlefield, and the suicide rate has grown every year since 2002. In September 2013, Boulder Crest Retreat Virginia opened and committed itself to learning and understanding the nature and effectiveness of then-current approaches to treating PTSD and identifying gaps in treatment. It hosted a numlexingtonlife.com

ber of clinical and nonclinical programs, attended conferences, and had countless meetings with experts to hear time and time again that nothing was working very well. No treatments or combination of treatments were allowing combat veterans to thrive at home. The treatments they did receive – normally a combination of medication and psychotherapy – seemed to temporarily alleviate some of the more severe symptoms of PTSD and combat stress but could not “offer a

profound science and lifelong growth. Josh Goldberg, executive director of the Boulder Crest Institute describes PTG as a process as well as an outcome. “What PTG is all about are the ways in which the experiences we go through that cause us to struggle also lead us to be reflective and force us to take a knee and start to think about who we are and where we’re going and why we’re here. What happens a great deal of time is that people who go through these difficult life experiences often report that in the aftermath of that experience, going through the process of PTG leads them to report that their life has changed for the better, in terms of it being more authentic, more meaningful, and more purposeful than it was before they had that experience.” That growth occurs in five different areas: 1. A sense of new possibilities and hope for the future. 2. A commitment in recognition of the value of deeper relationships with other people. 3. A sense of personal strength, the idea that nothing can permanently “knock me down.” 4. Appreciation for life, gratitude for things both small and big. 5. A spiritual change, this sense of asking and reflecting on the deepest questions that life can offer us. “Who am I? Why am I here? Where do I belong?” Goldberg is passionate about his mission. “When we send men and women to war,” he wrote, “we make a special covenant with them. In exchange for their service and sacrifice, we pledge to bring

We must remember that one man is much the same as another, and that he is best who trained in the severest school. – Thucydides springboard to a great life at home.” The picture was clear: the best that struggling combat veterans and their families could hope for were lives as diminished, and often medicated, versions of themselves. In stepped the Warrior PATTH method, designed to cultivate PTG – a decades old science that provides a framework for transforming times of deep struggle into

them home – all the way home. As a society, we are failing to honor that commitment. We can and must do better. We must never forget that combat veterans possess strength, skills, and abilities that are seldom seen and desperately needed here at home. It is our responsibility to understand how to harness those strengths and abilities and enable this remarkable March 2021 | LEXINGTON LIFE | 17


breathe and relax and pull the string and focus. I had done archery before, so I was expecting to do okay hitting the target. Then, we went back to the line, and as I started pulling the string back, one of the trainers asked me how things were going since my divorce. As I started talking, I lost all focus and concentration, and the arrow didn’t even hit the target. We did a few rounds like that, showing us that, when we got off track and start thinking about the bad, we can’t focus on what’s ahead. Our body also physically reacts to stress. When stress affects our heartbeat, our breath, our nervous system, the physical impact completely affects our focus. It was an amazing example.” She went on to say that, most importantly, she learned forgiveness. “After walking the labyrinth with heavy equipment and then letting that go, I physically felt the weight of many things that had been on my heart for years just leave me. I left so much in the middle of that circle and learned to forgive a few key people in my life and learned to forgive myself. Learning to let go was a huge victory in my journey.” Warrior PATHH programs are available for both male and female combat veterans – active duty or veteran – and first responders who have been involved in critical incidents. No clinical diagnosis or prior mental health care is required to attend. The program defines a combat veteran as anyone who has served in any of the five major branches of service and

The Big Red Barn Retreat 8024 Winnsboro Rd. Blythewood, SC 29016 info@thebigredbarnretreat.org 803.716.9097 thebigredbarnretreat.org/ warrior-pathh

community of heroes to be as productive at home as they were on the battlefield.” The program model dictates that, in order to facilitate PTG, trauma survivors will benefit from “expert companionship.” The concept of expert companionship emphasizes that trauma survivors first need companionship and that the companion must first be willing to learn from the trauma survivor about his/her life and experiences. The concept emphasizes that the relationship is more important than the technical expertise; therefore, paraprofessionals and partners in the trauma survivorship can be effective in facilitating PTG. In the Warrior PATTH program, expert companions are referred to as “expert guides.” Among many other shining qualities, expert guides are honorable, gracious, supportive, authentic, and never miss an opportunity to be quiet and listen. Warrior PATTH graduate, “Brandi M.,” says that the program shows you real-life examples of ways to deal with PTSD. “We talked about breathing techniques, equine therapy, meditation, archery, and several other methods. Everything we talked about and practiced brought new ways of thinking about negative emotions. Some of the experiences were so tangible, though, and I think that was the real breakthrough for me. I recall a few of those moments so distinctly. One was in archery. We were given quick instruction with the bow and given time to

was deployed in a combat zone. A certified first responder is defined as anyone who has received certification to serve their community as a police officer, sheriff’s deputy, corrections officer, FBI, CIA, U.S. air marshal, marshal service, EMS/ EMT, para-rescue, or firefighter who has been involved in a critical incident, or a frontline healthcare worker. The program’s ideal candidate is described as a warrior who is determined to win his/ her personal battles, has a willingness to accept coaching, a desire to embrace the process, a vision of what that warrior wants despite not knowing how to get there, and a passion to live fully. If you are interested in applying for Warrior PATHH and meet the above criteria as a combat veteran or first responder, visit the website to apply online. Volunteer opportunities are also listed on the website. n 18 | LEXINGTON LIFE | March 2021

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THANK YOU TO OUR TEACHERS!

Want to join the team? We offer: • • •

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Egg-cellent by Candace Brown

Fun for the Whole Family!

Easter egg hunting is a popular family tradition. But doing it the same old way every year can get boring. How can you make an Easter egg hunt fun and entertaining for children of all ages? Here are some creative ideas that might help. help Easter Egg Tag It can be enjoyable to hunt for eggs while everyone is literally on the run. Pick any family member to be “It.” This person could also display goodies/eggs on his/her shirt with Velcro or clothes pins. The hunt begins, and everyone else chases the egg holder to see who can quickly snatch most of them off. Fool Them with Fake Eggs To get a few laughs out of family and friends, you can create fake “joke eggs,” which are tightly glued shut, making them almost impossible to open. You can also stuff them with fake currency notes or chopped vegetables. Imagine the look on their faces when folks find one of these eggs. Non-Candy Eggs Easter eggs are known for being filled with candy and cash. However, you can have eggs filled with other kinds of rewards such as a token that lets kids stay up late for an extra half hour, or a ticket for a lunch date with dad. Children love these alternatives as well. Mix them up with a few regular candy eggs for the best results. 22 | LEXINGTON LIFE | March 2021

Easter Egg Charades Try filling eggs with a slip of paper that instructs the finder to carry out a silly task. Here are some samples: Sing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” in a baritone; name four fruits that are green; or do a somersault while squealing in a high-pitched voice. The person who finds the egg has to execute the task and can then pick a piece of candy or a toy from your collection. Another way to make this game interesting is to offer tokens or tickets for each task, which can later be redeemed for bigger gifts at the end of the hunt. Quiz an Egg A twist on the Easter egg hunt is to insert slips with questions on them, which the finder must answer to win points. An egg that asks for the names of 10 states with their capitals may carry 10 points, for example. Another that invites the finder to recite “Mary Had a Little Lamb” could offer 5 points for correctly doing so or reciting the alphabet backwards. Announce special rewards and prizes for reaching a specified score. lexingtonlife.com


Easter Egg Treasure Hunt Instead of each egg being a reward in itself, set up an exciting hunt where clues are hidden in numbered eggs that lead to a big treasure at the end. Children start searching for eggs after getting the first clue from you. When they find the first egg, which has the number clearly printed on it, they’ll get the clue leading to the next one. Make sure the grand prize is big enough so that every child can share in it. Golden Ticket Egg Hunt Make one out of many Easter eggs the Golden Ticket egg, which contains a special gift. A child can redeem this for the prize immediately after finding this egg, or at the end of the hunt after all Easter eggs have been uncovered. Make sure that each child who participates in the game gets one Golden Ticket to avoid disappointment and frustration. After all, Easter egg hunts are meant to be fun. Easter Egg Relay Races Older children enjoy a relay race to hunt Easter eggs. Two teams compete against each other. The first child in each team goes hunting. As soon as they find an egg, they return to tag the next member of the team who goes in search of another. The team that collects the most eggs wins. Easter Egg Scavenger Hunts Another variation of the Easter egg hunt that’s ideal for older children is the scavenger hunt. In this game, each child receives a list mentioning the kind of eggs they should find. For instance, one child may have to locate a striped egg, one with a coin inside, and an egg that has a piece of yellow candy in it. Each successful find can be redeemed against a gift, like a store card or $5 in cash. These creative Easter egg hunt ideas can lead to the entire family having fun this holiday season. Not only is this fascinating for those who participate in the hunt, but it is also great fun to watch as a spectator. So elderly grandparents or fond parents may enjoy looking on as the little ones scream in delight at each discovery. n lexingtonlife.com

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Have You Planned For What’s Next? You insure your home and car to protect yourself from things that may happen. What about planning for the one thing you know will happen? Now is the time to put that protection in place by planning your funeral arrangements in advance. Planning ahead relieves your family of the burden of making rushed decisions and secures today’s prices. It’s one of the most thoughtful things you can do for your family. Our doors and our hearts are open everyday — as well as in your time of need. We invite you to call or stop by to pick up your own free personal planning guide. 4720 Augusta Road, Lexington SC 29073 • 803.996.1023 845 Leesburg Road, Columbia SC 29209 • 803.776.1092

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A Celebrating Your Pet’s Life and Honoring

Memory

Their

by Marilyn Thomas

“Animals have come to mean so much in our lives. We live in a fragmented and disconnected culture. Politics are ugly, religion is struggling, technology is stressful, and the economy is unfortunate. What’s one thing that we have in our lives that we can depend on? A dog or a cat loving us unconditionally, every day, very faithfully.” – Jon Katz 26 | LEXINGTON LIFE | March 2021

nimal lovers understand that having a pet can be an emotional, educational, and enriching experience. A furry, feathered, or scaly companion can dispel loneliness, demonstrate unconditional love, and even boost the physical and mental health of his or her owner. Along with these countless benefits comes the huge responsibility of ensuring that the pet has safe shelter, adequate nutrition and exercise, regular health care visits, grooming and socialization, along with daily companionship and attention. Naturally, these domesticated friends age with time just as we do and can develop temporary or permanent medical issues. Although several factors contribute to the lifespan of a pet, dogs typically live 8–15 years and cats 12–18 years indoors, 2–5 years outdoors. When difficult days come for our four-legged friends, there are resources available to support and guide the owner in making uncomfortable decisions. These decisions may be related to realistic treatment for chronic pain and disease, efficient therapies to extend the length or quality of life, and, when necessary, avenues to ease the animal’s suffering and options for a peaceful resting place. “Minimizing pain and distress is important in the elderly pet,” says Dr. Jennifer Bonovich, a veterinarian with the Humane Society of South Carolina, who has a particular interest in geriatric and end-of-life care for animals. As pets age, “One of the most important steps you can take is to have a good relationship with your family veterinarian. Just as adjustments to the environment are made to help our aging human family members,” she explains. “Adjustments should be made in the home of the aging pet as well.” Several of her suggestions include blocking off stairs or other fall hazards, adding rugs to help pets with mobility issues, providing a cushioned area where pets can rest, and trimming down the side of the litter box, so cats can enter and exit easily. “Overall, pay attention to your pet’s good days and bad days,” she says. “You can mark ‘good’ days and ‘bad’ days on your calendar. If you notice your pet is having lexingtonlife.com


more bad days than good, then consulting with your veterinarian regarding end-of-life care is recommended. Euthanizing a pet is an emotional decision,” says Dr. Bonovich. “Yet, at the same time, it is of the greatest gifts we can give our beloved pets, as we can choose to end their suffering and provide a peaceful, dignified end-of-life moment.” “In most homes, our pets are like a member of the family,” says Dr. Ginger Macaulay, owner of the Cherokee Trail Veterinary and Lake Murray Animal Hospitals. Even after practicing veterinary medicine for 37 years, she admits, “This makes deciding on euthanasia a very difficult decision. As veterinarians, we play an important role in helping a family or individual make the decision of when to let go,” she explains. “Sometimes we must guide our clients in making a decision and let them know euthanasia is an appropriate treatment. Many times, they just want to know that it is okay to be saying goodbye. They need to know the decision is one made out of love for their friend.” “The end-of-life decision is as important to us at Grace Animal Hospital as it is for pet owners, and is not something we take lightly,” says Dr. Tim Loonam, the founder and medical director of the practice since 2006. “It’s the end-stage chronic cases like

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cancer, kidney disease, or severe, debilitating arthritis cases that are a challenge for owners and veterinarians,” he explains. “What we do at Grace Animal Hospital is to help the owner differentiate between being sick and suffering and help them determine and recognize when the pet’s quality of life has declined. I frequently use the term ‘joy’ in my discussions with clients,” he says. “Does the pet have joy, meaning do they still interact with the family, other pets,

or desired effects have diminished to the point the pet is suffering more bad days than good, it is time for a quality-of-life evaluation. According to Dr. Barkley, some of the signs that a pet is nearing the end of his or her life include loss of mobility, the tendency to retreat or hide, a decreased appetite, difficulty breathing, and significant behavior changes. A veterinarian is the best source for end-of-life care,” she says, “and can refer pet owners to other resources such

“It is of the greatest gifts we can give our beloved pets, as we can choose to end their suffering and provide a peaceful, dignified end-of-life moment.” show interest in the things that interested them when they were younger?” Moreover, “I also ask the client if they still have joy in their own lives with regards to the pet, or has the pet become a burden that now causes resentment.” Similarly, Dr. Cameron Barkley, veterinarian of Millcreek Animal Hospital for more than 20 years, says, “When reasonable treatments have been exhausted and/

as physical therapy or hospice resources. Euthanasia is appropriate when the pet has been evaluated by both pet owners and a veterinarian, and it has been determined that the pet is suffering or no longer enjoys quality of life.” “It is a personal decision for the client if they want to be with their pet during the euthanasia,” explains Dr. Macaulay. A nearly painless procedure, “We use sedation to

March 2021 | LEXINGTON LIFE | 27


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make it a more peaceful process for all involved. Once their friend has passed away, we can make ink paw prints or save locks of hair for the family,” she adds. “In some cases, we have known the patient literally from birth to senior citizen status,” and the animal hospital sends sympathy cards to the families of the patients they have lost. Some families prefer to have the euthanasia performed at home “Lap of Love is the nation’s largest service provider solely dedicated to end-of-life veterinary care, providing in-home euthanasia, hospice, and tele-hospice services,” explains Dr. Will Basinger, an associate within the local branch of the franchise. With “open-minded guidance,” its veterinarian staff offers support to “pet parents who are deciding why, when, and how to either euthanize or continue medical management for their pet.” Should someone need such services, “Dr. Will” suggests that the pet owner explore Lap of Love’s website for more information or call the organization’s support center. “Its main purpose,” he says, “is to help families be heard and to provide information about the options available to them and their four-legged loved one. This is always a very difficult decision, and no matter how appropriate euthanasia is for our pets, it never gets any easier to say goodbye,” he relates. “Timing is definitely one

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of the hardest parts of this whole process, and I think that the compassionate consideration and support offered by the Lap of Love team is one of its best attributes.” In December of 2020, Jim Mayfield, 15year board member of the Humane Society and semiretired insurance agent, said goodbye to Daisy (known as B), his 17-year-old “best-dog-ever.” “She was having trouble walking and even standing there toward the end,” he explains. “I was concerned she might have some chronic pain. I did not want her to hurt. She meant too much to me to let her endure that. Prior, though, she was a great companion,” he fondly recalls. “She loved to go for walks, loved treats, liked to bark at the UPS truck – but not the Fed Ex truck, oddly – and she knew and was known by almost everyone in my old neighborhood of Elmwood Park in downtown Columbia. Her Mom and I got her from a friend who could no longer keep her. She was a rescue (the best dogs, in my opinion), so her breed was a mix of many more mixes. I had heard of Lap of Love from a friend in Tennessee,” says Mr. Mayfield. “I called them, and Dr. Will was awesome. He came to the house, so she was in a familiar place where she was comfortable. It was very sad – saying ‘goodbye’ forever is – but also very serene. I knew she was no longer in pain and that was comforting. She was at

March 2021 | LEXINGTON LIFE | 29


rest and at peace. After some time passed, I was at peace with it, too.” Once the beloved companion has passed, “Pet owners may elect to take the body home for burial or elect cremation, with or without the return of the pet’s ashes,” says Dr. Barkley of Millcreek. “Many memorial products are available as well through crematory services to remember your pet.” The Columbia Pet Cremation Center, located on Airport Boulevard in Cayce, is owned and operated by Margie and Mike Johnson. After selling the Columbia Wilbert Vault Company, a fourth-generation family business, opening the center was the realization of Mrs. Johnson’s lifelong dream to work with animals. “Our primary service is pet-death care,” explains Mrs. Johnson. To that end, the company has a crematorium, a private chapel, and a selection of burial vaults and blanket-lined baskets for both traditional and exotic pets. “We offer a personalized urn, paw or talon print, and fur or feather clipping with each private or partitioned cremation,” says Mrs. Johnson. When pet owners choose a communal burial, the Johnson family scatters the pet remains on their own private property in the mountains of North Carolina. “Each family, regardless of choice, knows the pet they loved was treated with that same love and gentleness to the very end.” As members of the local community, they endeavor to deliver individualized support and services. “We meet and serve each family, one at a time,” says Mrs. Johnson. “I believe the most important thing is to listen [and] make sure they know you hear them and understand their broken heart. We treat pets like the beloved family members they are.” Brent Caughman, a lifelong professional within the funeral industry, opened Midlands Pet Care, the first pet crematory in the area, in 1995 to offer animal owners exclusive options for burying their companions. “We are the only pet crematory in the Midlands that has our own crematory and cemetery, which is on Hwy 321, going toward Swansea,” he says. “The cemetery we own is a little over three acres of land, and we offer ground burial with markers.” Pet owners are invited to make arrangements ahead of time, “if they know that it’s the near-end of life,” suggests Mr. Caughman. “We do offer for people to come in and pre-plan – that way we can help with the burden when the loss does occur.” Family-owned and operated, Midlands Pet Care has an around-theclock answering service and provides free transportation of deceased animals from local clinics, along with home removals at 30 | LEXINGTON LIFE | March 2021

Resource for Pet Owners Cherokee Trail Veterinary Hospital: 803.359.6611 www.cherokeetrail.net Columbia Pet Cremation Center: 803.888.7095 colapetcremation.com Grace Animal Hospital: 803.808.7387 www.gracepets.com Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice: 803.752.0665 www.lapoflove.com Midlands Pet Care, Inc.: 803.356.1610 midlandspetcare.com Millcreek Animal Hospital: 803.359.1933 millcreekanimalhospital.com a reasonable rate. Grieving the loss of a pet is an individual, personalized process and is seen as an expression of the deep bond and the pain of loss. The process of recognizing what life will be like with the absence of our furry companions is a struggle for most. We must remember that the pet will remain in our hearts indefinitely, and their influence upon our lives will last forever. Owners should not feel ashamed of the emotions that come along with this loss, and everyone processes within their own timeframe, in their own unique way. In some situations, owners do not get the pleasure of saying “goodbye” before the passing of a pet. Not having this ten-

der moment of closure in the process can leave a bitter feeling. Memorializing the memory of a pet, donating to a local pet shelter or dedicating quiet time in a favorite space from the pet’s life can be a good way to achieve some level of closure. It is important to recognize when help is needed during the grieving process. The support-center team at Lap of Love is trained in grief counseling, and a certified thanatologist is also on staff. Moreover, “As a community outreach,” says Dr. Ginger Macaulay, “Cherokee Trail Veterinary Hospital and Lake Murray Animal Hospital sponsor a Pet Loss Support Group that meets the third Monday of each month at the Lexington Leisure Center.” n lexingtonlife.com


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L W

ON ENERGY? Here’s How You Can Fix It While you may not think about it that much, your energy level is the major driving force in how you do your job, maintain relationships, and self-improvement. Unfortunately, many people find themselves with low energy. Health stores and pharmacies typically carry supplements and drugs that promise to increase your energy level – but this can be done naturally. Before you find out how to boost your energy level, however, you first need to know what causes it to be low in the first place.

Lack of Hydration Most people don’t drink enough water. They also don’t realize that lack of hydration can result in health problems. Your brain and heart are mostly composed of water. The same is true for your bones, kidney, lungs, liver, skin, and muscles. Considering this, it’s a no-brainer that, when your energy level is off, you may not be drinking enough water. You should also examine the quality of water you drink. Filtered water and natural spring water are ideal options because they restore the natural pH level of the body. Lack of hydration is easy to resolve. Drink an 8-oz glass of water several times a day. There are also apps that can help you track your water intake. Poor Sleeping Habits Your circadian rhythm is a natural process that regulates your sleeping and waking cycle. This natural process repeats every day. In today’s modern age, sleep has, unfortunately, become less of a priority for millions of people. This causes them to practice poor sleeping habits like sleeping late, eating before dozing off, and using gadgets before going to bed. These habits wreak havoc on the circadian rhythm in many ways. To solve this, try to get enough sleep, since it is the most effective way for you to feel more energized and alert throughout 32 | LEXINGTON LIFE | March 2021

the day. Aim to get at least seven hours of sleep every weekday night and more on weekends. Lack of Exercise If you never set foot in a gym your entire life, don’t worry. Lack of exercise covers more than just going to the gym. Many individuals live sedentary lives where most of their day is spent working in their office chair, sleeping in bed, or watching TV on the couch. However, this is unhealthy. Movement is vital to keep your energy level high. It also increases blood circulation. You don’t have to pay for an expensive gym membership to exercise or lift weights. Do simple activities such as walking to work or a 15-minute stretch session immediately after waking up. Poor Diet It’s truly hard to say no to your favorite fast-food chains, but if you want to stay healthy and keep your energy level high, you need to limit your consumption of unhealthy food. You may have heard the expression, “You are what you eat.” This rings true, especially today. Mass-farmed animals and chemically modified greens are not great additions to your diet, either. Focus on eating organic and pesticide-free fruits and vegetables. Poor Breathing Habits Much of society now faces a problem

by Kristen Carter

with a lack of clean air and an abundance of carbon dioxide from fumes, factories, and cars. When you don’t inhale a healthy amount of oxygen, it can lead to health problems such as hypoxia, which is when the tissues in the body don’t get enough oxygen. This condition is often experienced when there is a large amount of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream. This can cause headaches, dizziness, seizures, hyperventilation, and shortness of breath. With the increasing levels of air pollution, more people are succumbing to this problem, which is intensified by stress, poor posture, and lack of exercise. If you have to wear a mask, this can further exacerbate lack of oxygen. It’s not too late to remedy poor breathing habits. Yoga is an amazing activity you should try since it combines movement with focused breathing. You can also practice conscious breathing and drawing your attention to your breath. Stress Overthinking and overworking are bad for you. These two issues can drain your energy to the point when you fill your existence with stress and anxiety. Always take time to relax. Remember that life does not revolve around your career, and overworking yourself will only take a toll on your health. Addressing these problems is often difficult, but you can try meditating. Start with five-minute guided meditations and work your way up. Bottom Line It can be difficult to address these problems all at once. Trying the solutions above one at a time can make it easy to get started. Soon, you should see and feel the improvement in your energy level. n lexingtonlife.com


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by Kim Becknell Williams

THE getting

Power of

Lost Getting lost comes in many forms. You can be lost in thought, lost in the moment, or lost in a book. You can also be lost and unable to find your way.

36 | LEXINGTON LIFE | March 2021

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Lots of people are good with directions, and some not so inclined. I am one of those not so inclined. I used to think I was good at finding my way, but I just liked the idea of being good with directions. I have never been good at navigating on the road or on a map. Once we took a family road trip to Disney World. This was before GPS, so we used a real paper map to chart our path. I was the navigator for what would be the last time. As I pointed out turns and signs, it eventually became obvious that we were going way out of our way. Turns out I was following the county lines on the map and not an actual route. For those who are too young to have used a map to navigate a route, this will find you lost in thought. For those of us old enough to know what this means, you get the drift of my lack of navigational abilities. I have gotten so comfortable with getting lost that I find it more of an adventurous ride off the beaten highway. I almost expect it to happen, unless I have my GPS programmed. Over the last month, I have been on five different hikes in the woods. I don’t get lost there. I can remember the exact location of a giant Angel Oak years after I had been on the trail leading to it. I remember the twists and turns of the paths, the markings on a tree, and the best spots to take a rest. Sometimes I forget why I walked into a room, yet I know these paths like a handwritten sketch in my brain. lexingtonlife.com

A Psychology Today article (Oct. 8, 2015) by Shahram Heshmat Ph.D. explains, “Much of learning takes place in the form of emotional learning. To make our memory stronger, it helps to attach emotional significance to objects and actions we experience.” Since I love being in the woods, I often take on the mentality of the TV character Grizzly Adams. I get on a natural high and feel an emotional attachment to the wild. I do not have an emotional attachment to the laundry room, which explains my forgetfulness when walking in a room. I also do not have an emotional attachment to a highway. A college buddy and I try to hike, kayak, or do something outdoorsy almost every month. If we are hiking in the woods, it’s my job to remember how to get back. I admit this is reassuring because nobody asks me for directions by car. Louise Ridley wrote in an online Science Focus article (Nov. 18, 2010), “Neurologists agree that deliberately noting landmarks and turns as you move around should help to build your cognitive map of an area. ‘Some people seem to attend to the environment more, just like some people attend to names more than others,”’ says University of Sterling neuroscientist Dr. Paul Dudchenko. “This could be the difference between a good and a poor sense of direction – people who really attend to the outside world and people who don’t.” I guess this means I am more interested in nature’s landmarks than in road signs. Alex Hannold, a professional rock climber, takes this to a whole new level. In the 2018 National Geographic documentary “Free Solo,” Hannold climbs El Capitan without the assistance of ropes or tools. First, he practices his vertical climb with several practice climbs using ropes, as he carefully maps out the safest route. He knows where each tiny foot ledge or thumb hole is located to enable him to climb. He memorizes the pathways. Hannold keeps notes on paper and engrains the map route in his head. After his practice attempts are complete, he begins scaling the mammoth 3,000-ft. rock in Yosemite National Park using intrinsic knowledge to meander his way up the climb without rope assistance. Finding a thumb hole in a giant rock is like finding a needle in a haystack, but he does this with innate March 2021 | LEXINGTON LIFE | 37


ability. He cannot afford to get lost in this life-or-death trek. On a much less impressive scale, I can relate. As a kid, I spent many days playing in the woods behind my childhood home. I would climb our chain-link fence to explore the paths and creeks just beyond my backyard. I still remember the twists and turns, the giant piles of leaves, and the tiny rock forts I built. Sometimes, I fall asleep at night trekking through the woods in my mind. A map, compass, and GPS on a cell phone can be useful tools to help a person navigate. Or, if you are adventurous, let the stars be your guide. A few years ago, my husband and I made a trip to Ireland. I am Irish, and the vacation was intended to connect me to my roots. We stayed in a castle one night. While I indulged in a massage, my husband went exploring in the woods surrounding the castle. He was so enamored with it all that he got lost in the beauty…literally. He had no idea how to get back and no phone or compass to help him navigate. He remembered a river flowing nearby and listened to the sound of the water. The sounds helped him find his way along the waterfront, which led to what must have been a moat back in the castle days. It was there that he found the entrance to the castle. Instincts, internal forces, and external guides lead the way. We must listen… There is magic in the woods. On a hike through Vereen Gardens in Little River, SC, my mom and I took a path we had not taken before. Much like in a Robert Frost poem, we took the one less traveled knowing the possibility of getting lost. We came to a place where the path ended at the water, the Intracoastal Waterway. Up in the trees, we saw places to hang “our wishes” on oyster shells dangling from branches. We made a wish and put a shell on the branch. Such a simple gesture and yet profound. We ambled back down the path and did not get lost. Luckily, we had the giant Angel Oak for our guide. n 38 | LEXINGTON LIFE | March 2021

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?

Do I Really Need It

42 | LEXINGTON LIFE | March 2021

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?

k s A o t s n o ti s e u Q r e h t And O Before Making a Purchase by Marcy Roberts

We can justify any purchase we make. We can pick up an item that we know deep down we have no real use for, and while our eyes scan the price tag, our minds start whirring into action, thinking up reasons for why we need to buy it. By the time the cashier is handing us back our credit card and receipt, we’ve convinced ourselves not only that we need this glorious new item, but that it’s going to make lives so much better – though it rarely does. And, when it comes to moving or annual spring cleaning, we often find ourselves throwing it out or donating it to a thrift store. So, the next time you find yourself fingering some bright shiny item in the department store, deciding if you should make your way to the checkout, ask yourself the following:

“Do I Really Need It?” Some purchases are necessary: food, soap, toothpaste, and shampoo, those little necessities we need in order to interact with others in the Western world without the fear of being ostracized. We also need clothes to keep us warm and, in conforming to social conventions, to shield our nakedness. However, we also know that clothes are about a lot more. If you’re considering buying an item of clothing, then this question is especially pertinent, because nine times out of 10, the answer will be “no.” If you want to escape the claws of consumerism, then only buy an item if it’s replacing one that you’re no longer able to wear – and not just because it’s no longer the height of fashion, Aside from the items mentioned above, there are few purchases that are absolutely necessary. If you don’t need an item, then don’t buy it; just because a newer model has come on the market, it doesn’t always mean you need to replace the older one. There are enough disposable items in the world today – don’t add to them by updating an item you already own that works perfectly well with one that’s simply newer, shinier, and has a couple of additional buttons. “Will It Improve the Quality of My Life?” The expression “retail therapy” has been in the English language for some time now. It’s used to describe the uplift that some people get from shopping, be it a feeling of immense satisfaction, power, or control. But this relates to the ritual of shopping – not to the effect the products purchased have on an indi-

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vidual’s daily existence. In fact, some people admit to spending hours shopping (and spending huge sums in the process), only to return all their goods the following day once their desire (for whatever it was) is sated and the high dissipates. Before buying an item, ask yourself in what way will it improve the quality of your life. If you have to think long and hard about the answer, chances are you don’t need it. If you do come up with an answer, ask yourself another question: “How will not buying this item improve the quality of my life?” If the answer comes to you more readily than the answer to the previous question, then put the item back. For example, you might be able to quickly accept that, in not making the purchase, you will get to spend more time with your family or be more inclined to take up a hobby you’ve been putting off. These reasons might be more valid than the ones you struggled to find to justify your decision to buy in the first place. “Can I Afford It?” While most commentaries on consumerism link it to the damaging effects on the environment, another valid reason not to make a purchase is the damaging effect it can have on a budget. It seems that the maxim “buy now, pay later” has never been truer than it is today. Whether it’s because the basics of budgeting aren’t being taught as well as they once were, or because the lifestyles individuals lead nowadays generally exceed their income, personal debt seems to be an ever-increasing problem. It can also be a vicious circle for some: debt makes people depressed; shopping makes those same people happy. The end result isn’t good. If you need to shop as a pick-me-up, then keep your purchases small and, if possible, environmentally sound. Learn to derive the same pleasure from buying a second-hand paperback book or a bunch of flowers as you would from splurging on an iPod or a Louis Vuitton handbag. Think about the repercussions your spending could have on your day-to-day living in the time before your next pay check arrives. If you’ve already got an iPod or a Louis Vuitton handbag (or any usable handbag for that matter), then you shouldn’t need to ask yourself this question: You shouldn’t even be in the shop! Use these tips to stay faithful to your budget, the environment, and your peace of mind. n March 2021 | LEXINGTON LIFE | 43


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Lexington Medical Center Spotlight:

Charles W. armon H MD, FACS

After nearly 50 years of taking outstanding care of people in the Midlands through his work as a surgeon, Charles W. Harmon, MD, FACS, has retired from Lexington Medical Center. Throughout his career, Dr. Harmon has served as Lexington Medical Center Chief of Staff, a member of the hospital’s board of directors, physician at Lexington Surgery, and a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. 46 | LEXINGTON LIFE | March 2021

by Jennifer Wilson

As a young child in Lexington in the early 1950s, Charles Harmon, known as “Will,” developed a fascination with tools and mechanics. “I liked to fix things,” he said. “I liked doing things with my hands.” He could wire a lamp, hook up a telephone, and break down a carburetor simply to explain how it worked. Dr. Harmon’s family has lived in Lexington County for generations. His father Charles Vernon Harmon was a World War II veteran, Lt. Colonel in the United States Army, physics teacher and Lexington County Superintendent of Education. lexingtonlife.com


made house calls to see his grandparents. “The doctors taught me the concept of humanity,” he said. “I remember them holding my grandparents’ hands at the bedside. That’s a physician at work, not just a doctor. Seeing that certainly made me want to be a physician.” And his love of mechanics made him want to specialize in surgery. “The ultimate fix is to operate on someone and fix something life-threatening. That’s the ultimate mechanical repair.” Sadly, he wasn’t sure it would ever happen. “I went for many years thinking as much as I’d love to be a physician, fortune was not going to take me that way.” Dr. Harmon’s father died when he was just 13 years old.

“I’ve had the good fortune to have the most wonderful patients in the world – my hometown people. I’ve grown up with a lot of them – they were my classmates, teachers and distant family members.”

His mother Bedie George Harmon was a well-loved teacher in Lexington. His parents instilled the importance of constant learning in their young son. “One day, Dad brought home an old surgery textbook from Fort Jackson,” Dr. Harmon said. “Once I started looking at it, I couldn’t stop. I loved all of the anatomical drawings and the way the instruments were laid out. I still have that book.” He also loved growing up in Lexington. An only child, Dr. Harmon lived in the historic Henry Meetze House next to his grandparents’ home on South Lake Drive. He remembers the family practice physicians in town who lexingtonlife.com

“At Lexington High School, I took vocational agriculture classes because I knew about farming and thought I could make a living doing that if other things didn’t work out.” But fate intervened with a string of fortuitous events. Dr. Harmon’s mother was friends with the heads of science departments at Columbia College. “They wanted to get someone to go to medical school from Columbia College,” he said, while chuckling. Harmon enrolled there in 1964 with a double major in biology and chemistry. He was the only male science student at the mostly all-girls school. After graduation, Dr. Harmon went to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, and completed a general surgery residency at Richland Memorial Hospital and the Veterans Administration Hospital in Columbia, which included a cardiac and thoracic surgery rotation at MUSC and the Charleston Veterans Hospital. Continuing to embrace his love of mechanics as a young adult, he worked at a mechanical repair shop throughout medical school, enabling him to complete his education without debt. During school, Dr. Harmon met a fellow chemistry student named Diane Moseley. They got married at the end of his training and came home to Lexington. Dr. Harmon opened up shop as a surgeon in private practice in Lexington in 1976, having consultations with patients in the house where his grandparents once lived. He performed surgeries at Lexington Medical Center. “Surgery gives you the opportunity to definitively fix something that would otherwise be life-threatening,” he said. “With all of the hand, mind and eye coordination you need, it’s March 2021 | LEXINGTON LIFE | 47


mechanical - but also extremely human, allowing the closest interaction you can imagine. There’s nothing more satisfying than a successful operation.” Dr. Harmon quickly became a leader in medicine in the Midlands. Over the years, he served as Chief of Staff as Lexington Medical Center, a member of the hospital’s board of directors for several terms and medical director of Outpatient Surgery. He has been a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. And he’s mentored students in all levels of medical education. “I’ve had the good fortune to have the most wonderful patients in the world – my hometown people. I’ve grown up with a lot of them – they were my classmates, teachers and distant family members,” he said. “I thank them so much for their confidence in me. It was a tremendous honor.” Dr. Harmon’s peers speak very highly of him. They call him a true scholar, gentleman and caring surgeon who is extremely well-read, knowledgeable, humble, loyal and respected by patients, staff and colleagues. And they noted his legacy extends far beyond the operating room. Dr. Harmon officially retired from Lexington Surgery, a Lex-

48 | LEXINGTON LIFE | March 2021

ington Medical Center physician practice, on December 31, 2020. He and Diane have been married for almost 48 years. Diane is a retired United Methodist minister who graduated from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University. They have two grown children – Brian and Amy. The week after he retired, Dr. Harmon, age 73, returned to where it began – mechanics. He enjoys machine work and welding, including the restoration of cars and engines. His latest projects include a transmission overhaul on a 1952 MG – a British sportscar, a full restoration of a 1970 Porsche 914/6, and work on a 1939 BMW motorcycle engine, a Lotus Seven, and a 1957 Porsche speedster. Dr. Harmon is in his first full month of retirement. “I did not adequately anticipate the amount of recalibration that’s required,” he said. “When you get up on Monday morning for nearly 50 years and have patients to see and suddenly stop doing that, it’s difficult.” So, the doctor prescribes some advice for other new retirees. “Write, read or do something that works your brain. Develop those interests before you retire.” In addition to mechanics, Dr. Harmon looks forward to staying involved in medicine in consulting or mentoring roles.

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Planting a Vegetable Garden

by Brandon Watson

Although there is trial and error involved, and you will need to do research and manual labor, planning and planting a vegetable garden are not that difficult and will get you out of the house for exercise and vitamin D. With the right location and good soil, you won’t need a lot of space to grow enough to feed your family. Soon you will discover that the taste of store-bought vegetables cannot compare with that of fresh home-grown. 52 | LEXINGTON LIFE | March 2021

Finding the right location Your garden will need six or more hours of sunlight each day. If possible, avoid locations that are shaded by trees or buildings. Planting near bushes or trees will also deplete resources your vegetables need, resulting in having to water and fertilize more often. Speaking of water, make sure your garden is near enough to a water supply for dry times. If you have the equipment to do so, and you intend to till up the ground and plant a garden the old-fashioned way, avoid low areas where water stands after a rain. Vegetables will not do well if planted in an area that is not well-drained. Look for a spot where other vegetation grows well, like an area where you constantly battle

with weeds. Weeds are a good indicator of fertile soil and good drainage. Geographic location is also a consideration. You will need to determine what vegetables will grow in your area of the world. This information is readily available online. Raised bed, elevated container, or old-fashioned? If you decide to install a raised bed garden, prefabricated kits are available. Alternatively, you could build your own with pressure-treated, ground-contact-rated lumber, rocks, or other materials available from your local home and garden store. If you need a head start, do-it-yourself plans are available online as well. Whichever you choose, understand that raised beds do not have bottoms. This is good in that it allows your vegetables’ roots to grow deeper into the ground. The downside is that it also allows weeds to come up from beneath. Don’t rely too much on weed barriers. You will still get weeds, but the barriers may block the roots of your vegetables from penetrating the ground below. This may not be a concern if your beds are a foot or more deep, but, in any case, you may want to take the steps to minimize weed problems by preparing the ground soil before bed installation. There are weed and vegetation killers you can use, but read the instructions and warnings carefully to determine if they are safe for application in a vegetable garden and how they should be applied. Another option is to till the soil with a small cultivator before building your bed. Some electric models sell for less than $100 and will come in handy later as well because they can be used to loosen and aerate the soil and uproot weeds between plantings. If elevated containers are your choice, there are definite advantages. Elevated containers have legs or stands and, as the name implies, they have bottoms that are lexingtonlife.com


not in contact with the ground beneath. This means fewer weeds and no need to prepare the ground. They are available online and from local home and garden stores. If, however, you have a farm and ranch supply in your area, you may want to check there before you buy. While they may have planters designed specifically for raised container gardening, you might be better off with feed troughs. Look for troughs that are at least a foot deep and two feet wide. They should have drain holes or knockout plugs in the bottom for drainage, which is important. Some come with heavy-duty galvanized metal stands. They even come in different heights. Plant tall plants in troughs on short stands and short plants in taller ones to reduce back strain while gardening. To give you an idea of the pricing, some stores sell troughs that are 10 feet long and over two feet wide, with stands, for as low as $130. The fact that these troughs are used to feed livestock intended for human consumption indicates they are made from nontoxic materials, but do confirm with the retailer that they are safe to use as vegetable garden containers. In many cases, the product FAQ sections of retailers’ websites will provide an answer to this question directly from a company representative. For those who intend to go the old-fashioned route by tilling up the ground and using no containers or beds, this method requires the most work and maintenance. The ground must be tilled, rows will need to be created to ensure good drainage, weeds will be a continuing issue, and your back will let you know when it has had enough. Still, this is good exercise and, if your soil is rich, and you want to plant a large garden, this may be the best choice. There is also the option to use a combination of two or more methods. This may allow you to take advantage of more space, perhaps by putting elevated containers on decks or porches and raised beds in the yard. How much area is required? There is no standard answer for this question. Regardless of which gardening method you choose, the footprint will be about the same. Also, the space doesn’t necessarily need to be contiguous. You could spread patches of garden around your property to take advantage of sunlight and other favorable conditions, like small areas of good native soil or drainage. There are, however, some questions you can ask yourself to make an educated guess: lexingtonlife.com

n How much good gardening space do you have available in total? You can use the criteria in this article to answer this one. n How much time do you have for gardening? n How many mouths do you intend to feed? n What do you plan to grow? Some plants require much more space than others. n Why are you gardening? If, for example, this is just a hobby, perhaps a small area will suffice. On the other hand, if you want to grow enough to freeze, can, or dry vegetables so you have a supply that lasts through the winter, more space will be required. With all the variables, the best advice is to read up on space requirements and growing seasons for the vegetables you would like to plant. Depending on your location, you may be able to plant certain vegetables in the spring and replace them with others in the fall. Consider checking with your local agricultural extension office. It may be able to provide you with all the information you need regarding what will grow best in your area and when to plant it. This data is usually available online as well. A good rule to follow if you have limited space is that you should avoid growing things that are cheap to buy, readily available, require a large area of your garden to produce a significant harvest, and/or can be purchased inexpensively in dried, frozen, or canned form. For example, as far as root crops go, things like carrots and radishes take up little space and do not require a lot of soil depth. On the other hand, potatoes are inexpensive to buy, can also be bought in dried (instant) or canned form, and take up a large area in

March 2021 | LEXINGTON LIFE | 53


a garden as well as a large volume of soil space. Beans, corn, and peas are also inexpensive and require considerable space to produce a significant yield. Avoid these unless you have a lot of space. Soil requirements Soil needs will depend on numerous factors, beginning with which gardening option you choose. Putting inexpensive garden soil in the bottom and high-quality raised bed vegetable soil on top is a good strategy if you are using an elevated container around two feet deep or deeper. Why the inexpensive soil? The roots of most vegetables will not extend down more than a few inches to a foot, so there is no need to use expensive soil at the bottom of a container that deep. This is assuming you do not plan to grow large, deep root crops like potatoes, which are not recommended in any case. If your container is not deep, you may choose to leave out the cheap dirt. Either way, an organic mix with high cow manure content is a great choice. Depending on the brand,

mix, and application recommendations that should be provided on the package, you may need to mix it with other dirt to create the best consistency and keep the mix from being too “hot” with fertilizer. You can find the soil you need at home and garden supply stores. For raised beds, your soil requirements will depend on the quality of the earth beneath and what tools you have available. You may want to check with your local agricultural extension office about testing your existing soil to find out what you should add to fill the bed. You may not need to fill your beds with expensive garden mix. It’s possible that you may only need some topsoil and fertilizer. Also, this is one of those situations where a small cultivator, like one of the electric models mentioned earlier, is almost a necessity. The alternatives would be cultivating and mixing your soil using hand tools or just piling new soil on top of the ground without mixing the two – both being recipes for more weeds and less yield.

For the old-fashioned, till-up-the-backyard gardener, the best recommendation is to get the soil tested. It could be that tilling up the ground and making rows for drainage are all you need to do. Soil testing will provide the answer. Perhaps you’ll just need some fertilizer. Summing it up Finding the right combination of gardening methods, soil, crops, and space required could take a few seasons. But, if you follow the recommendations herein, do your research, and take advantage of the help available from your local agricultural extension office, you may surprise yourself and your family. Keep in mind that storebought vegetables typically do not ripen on the vine. They ripen in a crate in transit to the supermarket or on the shelf after they arrive. They don’t acquire that extra flavor and sweetness they will get if they are left alone until they’re ready to eat. There is also the satisfaction of not having to run to the store when you forget some little something like lettuce for your burger. n

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fresh and tasty

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH SALAD WITH BACON AND ONIONS 1 medium butternut squash, halved lengthwise and seeded 1 tbsp. olive oil, or as needed aluminum foil 6 slices bacon 1 c. sliced onion 8 c. chopped romaine lettuce 1/3 c. pecans, toasted and chopped 1/3 c. raisins 2 tbsp. maple syrup, or to taste Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F; brush cut sides of butternut squash with olive oil. Wrap each squash half tightly in aluminum foil. Roast squash halves in the preheated oven until they begin to soften, about 20 minutes. Remove squash from the oven and let sit until cool enough to handle. Remove foil and slice into 3/4-inch thick slices. Remove skin from each slice and cut into 3/4-inch cubes. Set aside 8 cups of the cubed squash, reserving any remaining squash for another use. Place bacon in a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until crispy, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove bacon and drain on paper towels. Add onions to the skillet and cook in the bacon grease for 2 to 3 minutes. Add 8 cups squash and cook, tossing occasionally, until onions are soft and beginning to caramelize, and squash cubes are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Place romaine lettuce in a large serving bowl. Crumble bacon on top and add pecans and raisins. Add butternut squash-onion mixture; toss to combine. Drizzle with maple syrup and serve warm. 58 | LEXINGTON LIFE | March 2021

BEEF SPRING ROLLS WITH CARROTS AND CILANTRO 1 lb. beef top sirloin, round or flank steak, cut 3/4 to 1 inch thick 1/4 c. plus 3 tbsp. stir-fry sauce and marinade, divided 8 rice paper wrappers (8 - 9 inch diameter) 1 c. shredded carrots 1 c. lightly packed fresh cilantro Additional prepared stir-fry sauce and marinade (optional) Cut beef steak lengthwise in half, then crosswise into 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick strips. Combine 1/4 cup stir-fry sauce and beef in medium bowl. Cover and marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes to 2 hours. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add 1/2 of beef; stir-fry 1 to 3 minutes or until outside surface of beef is no longer pink. Remove from skillet, repeat with remaining beef. Fill large bowl with warm water. Dip 1 rice paper wrapper into water for a few seconds or just until moistened. Rice paper will still be firm but will continue to soften during assembly; place on work surface. Spoon 1/4 cup beef, 2 tablespoons carrots and 2 tablespoons cilantro evenly in a row across center of wrapper, leaving 1-inch border on right and left sides; drizzle with about 1 teaspoon reserved stir-fry sauce. Fold right and left sides of wrapper over filling. Fold bottom edge up over filling and roll up tightly. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling ingredients. Cut each spring roll diagonally in half. Serve with additional stir-fry sauce, if desired.

EASY KALE WITH GARLIC 1 bunch kale 1 tbsp. olive oil 1 tsp. minced garlic Soak kale leaves in a large bowl of water until dirt and sand begin to fall to the bottom, about 2 minutes. Lift kale from the bowl without drying the leaves and immediately remove and discard stems. Chop the kale leaves into 1-inch pieces. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat; cook and stir garlic until sizzling, about 1 minute. Add kale to the skillet and place a cover over the top. Cook, stirring occasionally with tongs, until kale is bright green and slightly tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Garnish with bacon bits if desired. BLUEBERRY DUMP CAKE 1 box (15.25 oz.) white cake mix 2 cans (21 oz. each) blueberry pie filling 1/2 c. butter cold Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large skillet or greased baking dish, add the blueberry pie filling and spread it evenly over the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the cake mix over the top, being careful to cover all of the pie filling. Slice the butter into small pads (about 16) and spread them out evenly over the top of the cake mixture. Bake for 1 hour or until the topping is golden brown and the pie filling is bubbling. Serve with your favorite ice cream. n

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... - .- -. -.. ... - .-. --- -. --. .-.-.. .. . .. . ... .. --. ---....-. . ---. -.. - .-.-.-

The Importance of Faint Signals Boss Cat pawed me awake early yesterday. I immediately fulfilled my immediate duty of immediately letting her out immediately. The morning had a biting cold edge. But I noticed a bird flitting around the porch. I was immediately aware of numerous faint bird-wing sounds in the bushes. I recognized the signal. A tiny candle began flickering in the dark cavernous place where Winter’s supreme reign smothers all good things.

ing half the clothes you are now, yet they withstood the worst cold in thirty years while being shot at for weeks. They were outnumbered and surrounded, but they were victorious because of excellent shooting and not giving up.” The young folks wonder if they have nerve enough to face being surrounded. The stoutest understand it’s time for testing. They vow inside to resist evil winds, certain only of an waking ancestral stubborness coursing primal through their veins, and an ever-strengthening heart and backbone they never knew existed until surrender was demanded.

Thank God for Boss Cat, or I would have missed the signal. Winter’s reign offers dark promises of looming pain. Like all dictators, Old Man Winter laughs at our concerns. “Oh, you love zinnias and marigolds and perfect tomatoes? You like walking barefoot in soft grass to look at the Big Dipper? Hah! I will destroy your favorite things easier than you enjoy them. And don’t you love statues of proud corn commemorating your care and good dirt and weather? Watch close while I destroy those stately statues. Remember: You tremble, but nothing will stop me.” Last week’s spectacular days of mid-70’s afternoons crumpled against a cold northwest Legion wielding never-ceasing blades. Even the sun shrugged like an old coal-oil lamp flickering its last light as the wick ran dry. Cracks on tradesmen’s callouses expose raw-meat pain of Winter’s surrender demand. Bundled up men share somber handshakes. Each man’s encouragement to hang in there is given as much for himself as for the recipient. Nobody believes when they say they’ll make it through, but they all keep saying it anyway. Tradesmen know surrender is something they just ain’t gonna do. Old men tell young men: “You think this is bad? You should read of the paratroopers at Bastogne in ‘44. They weren’t wearlexingtonlife.com

Every great battle story’s turning point depends on an easily missed signal. The overconfident aggressor always fails of ultimate success, because ultimate success is borne by the good and true. Evil dictators only see evil, and evil does not recognize the good and true because it’s outside evil vision. The gaping canyon’s smothering cannot comprehend or extinguish the tiniest flame of goodness, faith, and love. I planted my tomato seeds the morning I saw the little birds. Their faint signal was received even under Winter’s iron rule. The tightly gripping fist always drops grains of fertility. These life-forces will nurture the seedling’s unstoppable reach for the Liberty of growth. And the unyielding certainty of Spring’s eventual victory will be fulfilled.

David Clark writes and works in Cochran, GA. Connect with him at cw.w4trj@gmail.com.

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Lexington Life Magazine - March 21'  

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