Insulation

Insulation is the theme of this day. Insulation from problems. Insulation from the world. But especially, insulation for my garage.

When the workers tore down my old garage, we tried to save the materials I’d bought to upgrade the old building, including wall insulation. I suggested they throw the insulation down into the basement to protect it, but I spoke too late — they’d already taken it to the garage of one of the workers. It kind of surprised me that they went ahead and did that without asking. They’d told me they were taking the OSB board there so it would be out of the elements, but they mention their taking the insulation, too. I didn’t make a big deal about it — I figured they had their reasons.

As it turns out, it wasn’t a good decision. When they dug out the insulation from where it had been stored, they discovered it smelled of mice. As much as it pains me to throw away the insulation as well as the money spent for it, it’s not worth risking getting a dread disease. I’ve been insulating myself to keep from getting The Bob; I sure as heck don’t want to risk getting hantavirus.

We’ll have to deal with the wall insulation another day. Today was about getting the attic insulation. Since it wasn’t delivered until almost three o’clock, no work was done on the garage. Tomorrow, hopefully, the guy who has been working on the garage will come early to do the insulation before it gets too hot. Glad it’s him and not me!

I also got a text from the contractor saying that they hope to put in the back stoop and the sidewalk from the house to the garage, which would be wonderful. That steep step up into the house is way too treacherous for a bum knee, so I’ve had to use the front door exclusively.

I imagine someday it will all be finished, but that day isn’t today.

On a non-insulation note, today’s tarot card is the king of pentacles. The card is about steadiness and solidity, wealth shared, multifarious talents, being enterprising, and seeing things through to the end. I’m not sure how any of that applies to today, except perhaps as a prod for me to see things through to the end, even if I have to scrap the first batch of insulation and get new. What did strike me was the word — multifarious. I’d never heard that word before (too insulated, perhaps?), and somehow read it as nefarious. Nefarious did not at all fit with solidity and steadiness, so I had to look it up, and sure enough multifarious, meaning having many parts or aspects, does describe an enterprising individual.

I used to be enterprising — at least, I think I was — but nowadays, I’m too insulated from the world for such goings on. Midwifing the garage to completion is about all I can handle.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Moving Along

Today has been rather an exhausting day, so after I post a few words (or even a lot of words), I’m going to rest my knee.

I woke at first light as I have been doing the past couple of months. This early rising began with The Bob and resulting isolation, and it is still holding true, even if I wear a sleep mask to block the light in the hopes of sleeping later. What I did at the beginning of this early rising was lie in bed and scroll through Facebook looking for articles of interest, which, in retrospect, was so not a good thing to do — it started the day off with all sorts of crap in my head I didn’t want there. Now, I look at the weather, check my emails, pick a tarot card for the day and try to puzzle out how it refers to me, and then wander around the house a bit until the sun comes up.

I did all that today, then I went out and unlocked my garage. (What wonderful words those are!) I dragged out a ladder and reset the button on the light-sensitive and motion-activated light we installed over the walk-in door. (I thought we turned it on, but apparently, we turned it off because it didn’t come on last night.) Luckily, I only had to climb two rungs because I’m not sure how my knee would have held out if I had to climb higher.

Then I watered my baby bushes and the timid transplanted ones that have not yet settled into their new location.

And then . . . Ta dum!

I took a walk. It wasn’t anything to speak of, just a few blocks — maybe a half mile at most — but since my knee had prevented any sort of walking except some painful hobbling from room to room inside the house for the past several weeks, it was a real triumph. Oddly, my knees and legs don’t hurt from the exercise (though behind the knees ached for a while) but my arms are very sore. No, I didn’t walk on my hands, but the trekking poles I used take some of the weight off my knees and onto my arms. During all that time of healing, I didn’t do much of anything except rest, and I’m paying for it now. Or maybe, a better way of looking at it is that I’m now reaping the benefits of all the resting because I was able to take a walk today. Slowly. But I walked.

And yes, for all you who suggested it, I did use a brace. The brace I got didn’t fit, and since I couldn’t get around to shop for one that did fit, I cut up and rearranged the one I have so it does some good. What is helping even more is massaging the knee (though how manipulating a loose knee cap helps, I don’t know) and using an herbal poultice with frankincense and myrrh. And ice. And heat. (Heat seems to help more now than ice does, though to be honest, with as hot as it is, I’d prefer the ice.)

So, now I’m exhausted.

Time to rest.

As for the garage — the door is up and on track, the framework is finished, and the lock on the walk-in door is installed. Things are moving along!

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

 

Leaving Well Enough Alone

I’m one of those people who can’t leave well enough alone. In fact, until just now, writing “well enough,” I didn’t even understand what those words mean. Well, yes, of course I knew what they mean, but it’s such a common phrase that I’ve never actually stopped to contemplate the meaning in that particular construct.

“Well enough” is good enough for most projects, though I never aim for such a low expectation. Although I tend to aim for perfection, I am willing to settle for something a bit less. The problems come in deciding what that “less” is. If something offends my sense of balance or perspective, for example, I keep trying to even things out until . . . oops. I go too far in the other direction and have to scrap the whole project. For the most part, I’ve learned to do one attempt at fixing whatever it is that bothers me, and then let it go.

But I couldn’t let my bench project go (the design seemed wrong, somehow), and I didn’t want to ruin the bench, so I photoshopped the photo I posted of the bench to see if a fuller border would work. Then I printed the photo, and played around with different designs for the center, so that when I painted, I wasn’t winging it as I so often do.

I think it turned out well.

At least that inner critic is silent and if it ever raises its voice to me, I’ll ignore it. The silly thing is, that often what offends disappears into the background, and I never even notice it. For example, when I stuccoed over the dog door in the corner of the house, I thought I did a terrible job. So I stuccoed over the stucco patch and made matters worse. I did leave it alone (though sometimes I wonder if I should try again), and I hardly ever notice the patch. It’s just . . . there.

Well, soon the bench will be “just there” too, and it won’t matter that I spent so much time on redoing the design. It I’ll probably never actually see it again except in periphery. Or in case I purposely look at it.

Still, I’m glad that in this case I didn’t leave well enough alone. At least, I think I am.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Shooting Troubles

My second bedroom, which is more of second living room because it’s where I have my computer and where I read, has doubled as a storage area ever since I moved in. (A huge stack of boxes in the corner off to the right, boxes under the bed, more stuff under the tables I use for a desk.) Even though the garage isn’t done, it is inching along, so with the hope that someday it will be finished, I’ve been sorting through storage items and reboxing those that need it.

What would normally have been a task that took no more than a day, has taken me weeks because of my knee. Not only have I not been able to lift things or even stand much, I also had no energy since all my energy seemed to go toward healing the knee.

Well, today I woke up with energy, so I finished carting the boxes to my dining room. I know it sounds silly, just moving stuff around, but it’s been nice claiming the room at long last. Surprisingly, it’s a good-sized room with all the extraneous stuff out of there.

After that, I tightened all the bolts on the daybed because it’s been doing a lot of creaking and clacking, and found one screw missing. Finally, when I cleaned the room, I found the bolt several feet away from where it had fallen.

And after that, I tried troubleshooting my printer connection. For some unknown reason, after more than a year of compatibility, this computer decided it didn’t like the printer anymore. It would show one document pending, then a few seconds later, would show 0 documents pending. But no document printed. No matter what I tried (even doing some things in the command prompt that made me nervous), nothing worked. So I dragged out my old computer to print the document, but since I let my security program lapse, I had to install a new antivirus protection so I could download the file I emailed to myself.

As wonderful as computers are when they work, they are horrible when they don’t. I have a hunch this printer problem has to do with a Windows update, but since I don’t know which one or how long ago, all I can do is wait and hope the problem will fix itself with subsequent updates as sometimes happens (when further updates don’t make things worse, that is.)

So now I’m exhausted.

Because of the isolation, everyone I know has their system — their physiological system — screwed up, particularly their sleep/wake cycle. For most people, this means going to bed later and getting up later. For me, it’s the opposite: getting up with the sun and going to bed with the sun, so now, early afternoon feels like late evening.

What does one do when one gets up so early? If you live on a farm or a ranch, obviously, there is plenty of work waiting, but for a sedentary person? Not so much.

Well, except for today. Today I sure found plenty to do!

This wasn’t at all the way I thought this day would go. I’d planned an excursion to see if I could find a few plants to plant, but fire warnings and high winds scared me off. (And I was hesitant because of the knee anyway, but apparently that wouldn’t have been a problem.) By the time I finally get around to getting any plants, there probably won’t be any left and anyway, it will be too late to plant, if it’s not already.

There’s always next year, though.

I’m trying to find the theme in this particular offering because without a theme, blog entries so often sound like a child’s diary entry. And this one definitely does!

Maybe the theme is troubleshooting. My knee, my room, my daybed, my computer, my yard certainly are all causing (or have caused) troubles that needed to be shot.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

A Lovely Day

Today was a lovely day — immensely hot, but the still air and clear blue skies made up for any discomfort from the heat. It seemed such a harbinger of summer that I considered going in search of hanging plants, but tomorrow the wind will pick up again, and I don’t relish the idea of worrying about the poor things flailing around. Nor do I want to fill the planters I have until a more benign time. With any luck, once the windy season is gone, there will be some cooler days when I could do the work. And if not, the potting soil should last a while. If worst comes to worst, and the expiration date passes, I can always spread the soil on the ground. It won’t hurt, and it might help revitalize the dirt. (Odd to think of soil having an expiration date — dirt been around since the beginning of time. But then, salt has an expiration date, as does bottled water, so it shouldn’t come as any surprise.)

I built a bookcase from a kit today. It seemed a heavy mental burden, so the kit has been sitting unopened for a week or so, but when I got down to actually building the thing, it went together nicely. I also cleared the storage boxes out of the second bedroom to make room for the bookcase. Once the garage is done, those boxes will finally find a home, but for now they are in the dining room. I’m sorting out all the storage stuff into various piles — craft and fabrics, household goods, camping equipment, office supplies, — to make it easier when it’s time to move everything onto the shelves that will be set up in the garage. I’d planned to do the moving myself, but I don’t want to take a chance on reinjuring my knee, so the contractor and his workers said they’d do it for me, and I don’t want to waste their time dithering about where things go.

Meantime, I’m enjoying the extra space in the room where I spend so much of my time. No more cave-like dwelling!

I’m not sure what to put in the bookcase. My collection of tarot cards, perhaps, which was a legacy from my deceased brother.

I started learning about those cards before I moved here, but ever since then, they’ve been packed away. If they were where I could see them, maybe I’d take up my studies again. Or not. As interesting as I find the idea, it doesn’t seem valuable from a personal standpoint since any question I would want to ask the cards will be answered on its own given enough time. Still, the history of tarot is fascinating. And oh, there’s always the I Ching and the rune stones that came with the collection if I really wanted to delve into such esoteric matters.

Meantime, I’m enjoying the empty shelves. I seem to see any sort of emptiness as a place of possibility, and once the emptiness is filled, the hint of possibility disappears.

Also, once an emptiness is filled, there seems no chance of ever unfilling it, so it’s best to keep the shelves empty as long as I can. Things (in my life, anyway) tend to stay wherever they’re put.

As if that wasn’t enough excitement for one day, I also got to see two different friends at different times, as well as chat a few moments with the worker who was here painting the garage.

Yep. A lovely day.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

 

Dream Come True or Nightmare

Before I bought this house, before I even considered the possibility of buying a house, I’d planned one last epic adventure with what was left of my savings. I was going to go on a year-long road trip, camping out at the various national parks, staying as long as I could at each (two weeks, generally) before moving on to the next one. I’d planned to go south for the winter, north for the summer, and I thought I could stay in motels or with friends when I got tired of being out in the weather.

After my homeless brother died, the idea of having a home of my own grew on me, and when I discovered how inexpensive old houses were in some rural areas, I decided to buy a house instead of taking that trip.

As it turns out, it was an immensely fortunate decision. Not only do I love my house and love owning the house (which surprised me because I never wanted such a responsibility), buying the place saved me from a ghastly experience.

I would have been on the trip this year, dealing not only with some of the worst winter weather in a while, but also park and motel closures, friends in quarantine, and riots. Oh, my! That would have been an epic adventure for sure, though more of a nightmare than a dream come true. I can’t even imagine the horror of such a trip.

Even though the events of this year do impinge on my life somewhat, it’s not really a problem. Oh, I’ve garnered insults and such with some of my writings that attempted to make sense of both The Bob and the riots, and I feel the restlessness of the world (or maybe just my own), but basically, since I’m alone in my snug little house, life has been good.

I’ll probably never be able see those national parks now, especially the iconic ones that everyone should see like the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone (the garage ate up any remaining travel funds), but I have the opportunity to make a park of sorts in my own back yard. It might not be as majestic or panoramic or awesome as some of the national parks, but it will be mine. Even if I don’t do anything special with the yard, owning the property and creating a home for myself is an epic adventure of a different kind, more of a dream come true than the nightmare I always thought it would be.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Electricity!

I have been waking early, even before the sun some days, but this morning, I awoke at eight o’clock to the sound of hammering. I wasn’t expecting any workers, but still, I stumbled out of bed to the back porch and looked out the window in case the hammering came from my property. A white truck was parked in the alley behind the garage. Wondering if perhaps the contractor had come here a day or two before he was supposed to be back, I got dressed and went outside.

And oh! There they were: the electric guys. They weren’t scheduled for another ten days and because of a misunderstanding — I thought I’d already accepted their bid, and they thought I hadn’t — I figured it might be even longer before they would be able to do the work. But a cancellation from another woman made room for me. Thank you, woman, whoever you are!

Although the bid allowed for six hours, it took them only a little over three hours. (I emailed the electric folk and asked it that would make any difference in the cost, but I haven’t yet heard from them.)

When I went out to check on the work before they left, I discovered they hadn’t put up an outside outlet. It was the first thing I’d asked for when they came for the estimate, but somehow it got left off the bid. Luckily, they had plenty of time, as well as the part, so that oversight was fixed.

The building doesn’t look as cute and as pristine as it did before all the wiring, but it’s functional, and that is what counts. And although I might not yet have a usable garage, I do have electricity, and that counts, too.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Lady Bountiful

I normally stay away from lotteries and sweepstakes and slot machines and every other kind of gambling, but this year I’ve been filling in the ridiculous Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes forms. I’ve been feeling lucky — or rather, I had been feeling lucky — having a house (a home!), a nice town to live in, as well as friends is luck indeed, and on the off chance that this lucky streak continued, I went ahead and played their silly game.

And it is a game. They hide the necessary stickers among copious ads for things no one needs in the hope that those foolish enough to enter will think they have a better chance of winning if they buy something. I have a hunch, if I read all the small print, I would discover that I had entered various drawings. The winner the first few times was supposed to win $7,000 a week for life, and the last form said the winner would receive $5,000 a week for life. So . . . games.

Mostly, I was playing a game with myself, thinking of what I would do with all that money. I don’t need it all (a couple weeks worth each year would be riches for me) and would have no way of spending it. I did think it would be fun to turn each week’s check over to a local organization and let them deal with spending it for the good of the community. It certainly would have brought much needed cash to this rather impoverished area.

I don’t really feel that lucky any more — not that I am unlucky, because I’m not. All the things that made me feel lucky are still in place, but that moment when I felt it possible for the universe to open up a crack to shower me with enough riches to play Lady Bountiful seems to have closed. And anyway, the more I think about it, the more dreadful it seems — every week, for the rest of my life having to figure out where the money would do the most good, and then having to make the effort to get it to the proper organization (as well as trying to keep my name out of the public’s eye so as not to be inundated with people’s outstretched hands).

If that had a become a problem, there would still be other ways of using the money for good, such as buying up one of the derelict houses around here and flipping it or tearing it down (it’s costly to tear down some of these houses because of the asbestos issue) and creating a green space. But even that seems like too much work.

Besides, my own property still needs work, and for now, that’s enough riches and enough of a responsibility to keep “Lady Bountiful” occupied.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

 

Happy Hamburger Day

National Hamburger Day isn’t until tomorrow, though some sites I Googled suggested that it was yesterday, so today appears to be a suitable time to celebrate.

I wouldn’t even have known about this holiday except that I was gifted with some ground beef. At first it seemed like an odd gift, but The Bob has changed things so that valuable gift items are not trinkets and electronics but toilet paper and tissues and bleach, all of which had been sent to me, all of which were welcome gifts. And to that list, now is added hamburger.

It was only a chance remark from the giver who said “Happy Hamburger Day” in response to my thanks that made me check to see if there was such a day. I thought the remark was simply a made-up excuse to send me a valuable present. (Admittedly, vegans and vegetarians might not agree about the value, but then, I am an omnivore.) And sure enough, there really is a hamburger day!

It’s interesting to me that only in this time of The Bob would such a present be feasible. It was delivered to my door from the local grocery store, and the only reason the store delivered is because they’re trying to keep us older folks at home as much as possible.

Even more interesting to me is that I’m forgetting there is a crisis out there. I am quite content immersing myself in the world of the Wheel of Time without the conflicting desires that so often pull at me — spending time with people or spending time alone. Going out and doing something or staying home with a book. Being sociable and getting together to play a game or indulging myself and not playing. Trying to find meaning in my new post-Jeff, post-grief, post-move life or accepting whatever meaning there is in simply being me.

I am aware of the crisis to the extent that on the rare occasions when I do go into a store, I wear a mask out of courtesy, but not to the point of contemplating its purpose. And horrors! I do hug people — on purpose — though I let them initiate the contact. Well, except once when it was my decision. I saw a good friend at the store the other day. We stopped six feet away. “We can’t touch,” she said. “I don’t care,” I said. She laughed and then we rushed toward each other. And oh, did that feel good! Odd to think that such a simple human act borders on the seditious, but to be honest, being rebellious in such a way felt good, too.

I must admit that beyond those few brief occasions of welcome touches, I love the distancing that keeps people from crowding me in stores. I don’t like being squished between people in line at the best of times, so I hope the stores will keep the six-foot markers long after this crisis has been forgotten by everyone, not just me.

I am getting far from the point of this article which is . . . hmm. I don’t remember. Hamburger day? Gifts? The benefits of The Bob? Maybe there isn’t a point except a reminder to enjoy the day. With or without a hamburger.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Long Day, Short Post

It was a long day, and because I overused my knee and am tired and sore, this will be short post.

The workers came and worked on my garage — put in the doors and windows, added the trim, and built the frame for the concrete apron.

The garage is starting to look so very nice, but it will be awhile until it’s finished. The overhead door still hasn’t arrived (tomorrow for sure, they say). The electrician was here to give me an estimate on electrifying the building, but they won’t actually be able to do the work for about ten days. And after that, there will be more work — insulating the place, putting up the inside walls (OSB board — whatever that is) and the ceiling.

And then there will be more concrete work — a back stoop as well as a sidewalk from the stoop to the garage.

But still, it’s all coming along nicely.

The workers so kindly cleared away some detritus from the corner of the yard and helped me plant the lilacs that arrived today from the Arbor Day Foundation. Yay! These at least look alive. Another couple of lilacs the foundation sent were simply skinny little twigs with no roots and no sign of life. But I’m treating them as if they are bushes, and who knows, they might surprise me.

Maybe by the time the garage is built, there will be enough stuff planted that it will look like the beginning of a small “estate.”

One can hope!

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.