Indiana Road trip, part III


When last we left Leslie, it was Friday night. She, Lucas, and Terry would all be driving back to Chicago the next day. She had been sad about leaving until a herd of chiggers set up shop near her belly-button, turning it into a Chigger Navel Base.

Leslie was itchy from the chigger bites, and loopy from Benadryl. Well, she’s always a little loopy, so the Benadryl probably had nothing to do with her loopiness, but it made her tired and a tad less itchy.

Lucas and Terry spent the rest of the night trying to erase images from their brains of Leslie running around the house, shedding chigger-infested clothing so she could boil them in the washing machine, and then boil herself in the shower.

Leslie will tell the rest of the story:

As much as I didn’t want to leave Paul and Terry’s house, the chigger bites – – whether a natural consequence of playing with Rudy among low-flying plants, or karma from Paul for overstaying my welcome – – definitely made it easier for me to leave Saturday morning, as planned.

Rudy playing with me at dusk in the  low-flying grass, the perfect spot for chiggers.
Rudy playing with me at dusk in the low-flying grass, the perfect spot for chiggers.

Lucas and I had stayed with Terry during the week of Paul’s birthday until Saturday, when the three of us headed to Indianapolis to attend an incredible event, before caravanning to Chicago.

Jesse Kharbanda, Executive Director of the Hoosier Environmental Council (HEC) had invited our family to “Greening the Statehouse,” Indiana’s largest gathering of environmental advocates, at the Indiana State Museum’s IMAX Theatre. The three of us were happy to represent our family, as my mother and sister would not be able to attend.

The program was to begin at 8:30 A.M., but Indianapolis had other plans…lots of other plans. Almost all of the streets we needed to be on were not accessible by car due to a plethora of events all taking place at the exact same time in the exact same location. We circled, zigged and zagged, for over an hour, missing most of the program.

If we had been able to get to the theatre on-time, we would have heard Jesse’s opening remarks, the panel discussion. And, we would have heard the keynote speaker, Josh Fox, Director of the Academy-Award Nominated film “Gasland,” give a presentation about fracking.

I’ll be honest with you. I had no idea what fracking was. I thought it was one of those Internet trends, like Planking, or Batmanning, and wondered how a movie about something like that could possibly be worthy of an Academy Award nomination.

Web planking

But we got there in time to hear Josh Fox answer a few questions from the audience, and in those few minutes, I learned that fracking is hydraulic fracturing, the controversial method of extracting natural gas and oil from the earth. But, because my inquiring mind wanted to know, I did due diligence about the event we almost missed.

Health effects chart

I read Online, “Greening the Statehouse will be an opportunity to learn about and engage on Indiana’s most pressing environmental issues with a panel of policy experts, network with hundreds of others, and find new ways to be effective environmental advocates.”

Jim Poyser the Editor of “Indiana Living Green”wrote, “Each year, the Hoosier Environmental Council stages a Greening the Statehouse event to highlight the most essential environmental issues that will be faced in the coming legislative session.”

But, the main reason we had been invited to “Greening the Statehouse” was because Jesse wanted to present Terry with the official Paul M. Chase Memorial Prize plaque, an honor Jesse first announced at the beautiful memorial service for Paul we had attended in Indianapolis in July.

Jesse spoke beautifully about Paul , and I began to cry as pictures of my brother emerged on the movie screen. Yes, he had been an advocate for so many people and so many causes to make the world a better place, but most of all, he was the best brother a girl could ask for. Hopefully, our love for each other will guide me and help me through any situation I might face in the future. The one I can’t face is that he’s gone.

PMCprize plaque

The Paul M. Chase Memorial Prize will ensure that his legacy will continue. The HEC website,, captures Paul’s essence:

Paul Chase was a great advocate, lawyer, son, partner, brother, uncle, cousin, and friend. In his more than thirty year career as a lawyer and advocate, Paul stood up for the chronically ill, the disabled, the elderly, and the financially struggling.   

He advanced the causes of affordable energy, climate change action, civil rights, consumer rights, health care access & affordability, and renewable power.   Paul’s remarkable abilities, character, humor, and warmth were widely appreciated by the entire breath of the Indiana public interest community (as seen by the tributes below), including our organization.

Paul, our treasured personal friend and professional colleague, was tragically taken from us, due to a car accident, on June 25, 2014.

In celebration of the life of a true champion of social justice, the Hoosier Environmental Council has established the Paul M. Chase Memorial Prize.

HEC aspires for the Memorial Prize to be not only an annual honor to a worthy young Hoosier who follows in Paul’s footsteps, but a fund for a modest annual scholarship.    

We are very thankful that this Memorial Prize has the blessing of Paul’s beloved partner, Terry, and that our announcement of this honor at Paul’s memorial service on July 2nd provided comfort to Paul’s family overall.

If you would like to donate to the scholarship fund, please go to our Donation page and write “Chase Memorial Prize” in the comments box of the Donation page. If you would like to give a general gift to HEC in memory of Paul, please write “in memory of Paul Chase” in the comments box. In either case, we will notify the Chase Family of your thoughtfulness and your generosity.

Proof that my brother, Paul, really does walk on water
Proof that Paul reallly did walk on water.

We had to be back home Saturday because the next day we would gather at the cemetery to unveil my Father’s headstone, and pay tribute to him, and Paul. Afterwards, like all good Jews do when sad and heartbroken, we went back to my mother’s house and ate a huge deli lunch.

My father's famous quote was, "Dancing is my life!"
My father’s famous quote was, “Dancing is my life!”

Road Trip to Indiana, Part II

When I awoke Friday morning, little did I know how much Lucy the Cocker Spaniel and I would end up having in common by that evening.

I can’t help but think my brother Paul had something to do with what happened, too. I had often asked if I could spend a week or two at the house. It’s so beautiful there and I imagined myself spending all day writing by the pond, or on the patio. I thought of it as my own personal Ragdale, if you will, without the application process.



Even though I am a delight of a houseguest, Paul was never very enthusiastic about the idea of me spending an extended period of time there. Terry said I was always welcome, anytime. Maybe Paul was kidding, but after what happened Friday night, I’m not so sure.


Terry went to work.   

Lucas treated the house and surrounding areas like a national park, snapping photos of every thing from every angle.

I spent most of our last full day outside, playing with Rudy and Sky.

Never pet a cat while wearing a Bandaid.
Never pet a cat while wearing a Bandaid.
Sky; Mid-belly rub
Sky; Mid-belly rub
Rudy, striking a pose.
Sky-selfie; she didn’t want me in the photo.

Lucas offered to prepare supper, so I got out of his way. When Terry came home, the three of us sat down and ate every delicious thing Lucas had prepared, and enjoyed a nice peaceful evening together.

Until the itching began.

During supper, I couldn’t stop scratching the right side of my mid-section, right where my jeans sat on my waist. I didn’t think much about it but as we cleared the table, the itching became unbearable. I picked up my shirt a tad, and, since I can’t see over The Girls,  asked Lucas if he saw anything unusual.

Unusual is asking your almost 21-year-old son to check out your abs, or the place where abs should be.

Lucas, who didn’t seem traumatized by my request, took  a quick look, yelled, “Oh my god,” and backed away from me. He’s usually pretty “chill” about most things in general, so I knew he wasn’t joking. I ran into the bathroom, hoping I was tall enough to see my mid-section’s reflection in the mirror.

I stood on my tip-toes. There they were. Welts. Red welts. Itchy, red welts had invaded the right side of my abdomen. One was working its way toward my belly button, and several began to form on my right arm and leg, as well.

I ran out to show Terry who immediately said, “You have chiggers.”

“I have What-ers?”



Terry got out one of his bug books and and said, “They’re not still on you.”

Of course, I heard, “they’re burrowing into your skin, having babies, and making you itchy!” I took this news calmly, flailing about the house, shedding clothes as fast as I could, and perhaps shrieking a tiny bit. I heard later that Terry told my mother, “I’ve never seen so much of Leslie.”

I think I kept my underpinnings pinned, but can’t remember. The thought of bugs setting up camp on my body, combined with the itchiness was driving me mad. Mad I tell you!

I took a shower and boiled my clothes. Terry told me I had the  worst case of chiggers he’d ever seen.


I could now empathize with Lucy, except I didn’t smell bad.

I sat on the sofa in clean pj’s, and texted my girlfriends back home for support. When I told them Terry brought me Benadryl, and a cup of tea, you could almost hear the collective, “Awwww” crossing over the border from Illinois. Terry has always been so sweet and thoughtful, and I’ve always felt lucky to have him as my other brother.

Terry with Corey and Brandi.
Terry with our great friends, Corey and Brandi.

My friends were sympathetic and even texted me remedies they had looked up online:




Richard was not as kind. After penning beautiful texts and leaving loving voicemails all week, I received this:


And this:


I had taken many photos with my phone that day. As I lay on the sofa, I decided to calm myself by looking at the pretty pictures I’d taken using the magic box (the Benadryl was kicking in.)

As I scanned through to the end of the photos, I sat upright. I remembered Terry reading out-loud that chiggers tended to jump onto human hosts from low-flying plants, usually at dusk.

By George, the pictures on my camera made the evidence jump out at me! The scene of the crime was as clear as my skin had been before the chiggers invited themselves over for a snack. I had solved the Mystery of the Invading Chiggers!

Exhibit A:

Rudy lolling about in the low-flying plants.

(Exhibit B is not technically an “exhibit,” but more of an an explanation.)

Exhibit B: Who do you think was sitting with her right butt cheek amongst the low-flying plants, while balancing herself on the patio with her left one in order to take this picture?


Lucas drove all the way home so that I could knock myself out with Benadryl, sleep, and try not to scratch (scratch, scratch, scratch!) That night at home, I tried the Vicks Vapor Rub and salt idea. Wow! It worked! I did it for two nights and it really helped. Of course, I had to wash the salty sheets because Richard didn’t like being exfoliated by errant salt throughout the night.

But the best trick I learned was one I figured out myself: The Reverse Bridge Pose Powder Application. Since I couldn’t wear an apparatus to confine The Girls, I realized that, thanks to the laws of gravity, and some knowledge of yoga, a Reverse Bridge Pose was ideal for applying powder underneath those otherwise hard to reach areas.


Oh, and one final thing. I “designed” this t-shirt to commemorate our trip:


Yes, Beth*. There will  be a part III about our incredible day Saturday at Greening the Statehouse in Indianapolis, with Jesse Kharbanda, and Caitlin Priest.

*I am now required, by the laws of Beth, to insert the name “Beth” into every post.