Triumph Over Obstacles

The garage door is finally installed! The electronic opener isn’t installed, just the door itself, but that alone is a major accomplishment. Up until now, the door was mostly just propped into the opening to prevent trespassers, but now it’s on its track.

I found it interesting that today’s tarot card pick was the chariot. As usual, my question was what I needed to know today, and as usual, it didn’t tell me anything I didn’t know, but it did seem apropos, not just because of the car/chariot synchronicity, but also because of the card’s meaning of triumph over obstacles.

The triumph didn’t belong to me since I had nothing to do with the installation except for a few sympathetic or encouraging remarks, but it was definitely a triumph over obstacles for the worker who had to try to make sense of nonsensical directions. (The instructions read as if they had been translated from one archaic language to another and then finally into English.) Even once the directions were puzzled out, the diagrams and photos illustrating the directions caused problems. They turned out to be backward images of what they were supposed to be. Luckily, the worker finally figured it out. I can’t imagine the horrors the workers will encounter when installing the opener, but that’s a situation for another day.

I kept wandering into the garage to see what was going on. I worried that the poor guy would think I was checking up on him, which I wasn’t — I trust him. It was more that I enjoyed seeing the door take shape.

And because — I admit it — I was bored. Since I’ve been staying away from Facebook, I have way more time and mental freedom than I’m used to. There are no conflicting political statements to befuddle me, no mined conversations with explosives ready to be tripped, no veiled (and unveiled) insults to be fielded. I don’t appreciate Facebook’s ignoring me and my request to have the block on my blog removed, but I especially don’t appreciate their doing it at this particular time because it makes it seem as if my boycott is a political statement rather than a personal one. Apparently, some major companies are boycotting Facebook because FB is not reining in those who disagree with the current political philosophy, while other people are boycotting FB because FB is deleting the content of those who disagree with that same philosophy, a good example of damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. Or maybe the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. Either way, it’s confusing. Either way, they are herding people to a particular way of thinking. And either way, I’m out of it for now, which is one way to triumph over the obstacles FB has placed in my path.

The point is that when I got tired of The Wheel of Time world, instead of wandering onto Facebook to see what’s going on, I wandered out to the garage to see what’s going on. Luckily, the worker didn’t seem concerned, and in fact seemed pleased to have someone to commiserate with and, at the end, to share his success.

Anyway, it’s my garage, or rather, it will be. Eventually. For now, it is still the garage builder’s workspace.

***

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.

Learning by Osmosis

I haven’t had a lot of problems with Windows 10 in the year and a half that I’ve been using it. It’s intuitive enough that I quickly picked up any differences between that and the previous systems I had. (First Vista, then Windows 7, which was basically Vista with a different name to offset Vista’s bad press.)

I prefer learning by intuition and osmosis when possible — it’s a lot easier than hard mental labor, for sure. (Most of what I know has come simply from reading, which is the ultimate osmosis medium. Read enough books, and things start to sink in.) This preference for intuition, osmosis, instinct, is what keeps me playing around with the decks of tarot that I inherited. If I finger them enough, perhaps the knowledge of how to read the cards will seep into my mind and I won’t have to actually study them or memorize them. The truth is, I’d like to know what they are all about, but I’m not sure I want to know badly enough to do the work. And I’m not sure I want to know what is hidden in the far recesses of my psyche anyway.

Meantime, there is the computer. It’s a wonderful tool for so many things, my most recent use being to translate an instruction booklet from an obscure Italian tarot deck into English. It’s slow going, but an interesting exercise.

One thing I do not like about the computer, Windows 10 in particular, is the way this system does updates. In previous systems, I could choose which updates to install, and if I uninstalled an update, it stayed uninstalled. Not now. There is no way to choose what to update. Windows 10 updates automatically. Oh, I could stop it updating automatically for a day or week, but then I’d have to install all the updates at once, and I’d be back where I started from. Besides, I don’t want to stop necessary updates, just problematic ones.

I mentioned yesterday that my computer no longer talks to my printer. I found out that a particular update caused the problem with the spooler, so I uninstalled the update. My printer worked perfectly! Yay. Well today, Windows reinstalled the update. Boo. I have to restart the computer to make it take effect, and I was able to put it off for a week, so I have a respite. (But if I have to restart the computer for any other reason during the week, I’m out of luck.) The best I can hope for is that in the interim, since this is a known problem, Windows will come up with a fix. I suppose if it doesn’t, I’ll uninstall the update again. Or wait until I need to use the printer and then uninstall it. So not optimal. So not an intuitive way of dealing with the matter.

And speaking of learning by osmosis — I am especially grateful someone other than me is installing the garage door. Though it seems that installing a door should be intuitive, especially for people who have done it before, the instructions for this door look as complicated as instructions for creating cold fusion would be. Not only are the directions for three different doors included in the booklet and not only does the order of those directions put the first parts last, and the last parts somewhere in the middle, but the instructions read as if they were translated from one archaic language to another and then finally into English. Even though I think putting up the door should be a two-man job, it’s a good thing there’s only one guy working, otherwise the two workers would spend all of their time discussing what the instructions mean.

Come to think of it, as complicated as the tarot is, it sure seems easier than computers and garage doors. Maybe I won’t have any problem learning how to read the cards whether by osmosis or intuition or instinct or even plain hard memory work.

Assuming, that is, I decide I want to.

***

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.

Changes

Jeff and I kept our expenses to a minimum by stocking up on things when they went on sale, and really loading up on items that had been deeply discounted. I don’t see those kinds of sales any more, which is good because I no longer like keeping a lot of things on hand. Having to get rid of cases of food and paper goods when I packed up after he died was just one more stab in the heart, especially since I couldn’t find a place to donate them. The churches didn’t even want them. I don’t remember what I ended up doing — I think an older woman found me crying and said she’d find a way to distribute the items. (She also understood my tears since she’d been widowed three times and admitted that she still cried for all of her husbands.)

The wheel of time turns, and now here I am, once again stocking up on certain items like paper towels — not because paper towels are on sale for twenty-five cents a package (the sale price Jeff and I paid), but because large packages of paper goods are the only sizes available to me right now.

I’m still not stocking up on food. I prefer to eat fresh vegetables and those don’t stay fresh for very long. I don’t use many canned goods or frozen foods. And the last time I looked for meat, I walked away without buying any because the prices were more than I wanted to pay — double what they had been a couple weeks ago. Luckily, proteins like tuna and eggs and cheese continue to be within my budget. I’m grateful I can still make it to the local grocery store once a week, and things I can’t get around here, I’ve been able to get online. I might continue shopping this way even when I feel more comfortable going to a bigger town to visit bigger stores — when shipping is free, it makes more sense to order online than to pay for gas, even when I have to stock up to get the free shipping.

I’m sure there will be other changes to my life — or maybe what I mean is I’m sure I will keep the changes I have made to accommodate these times. I will have to become sociable again, of course, at least to a small extent, but I doubt I’ll ever go back to having a full calendar. I’ve become so used to being by myself that it will take more energy than I have to get myself out of the house. (Though it will be nice seeing friends again.)

For all I know, even when the library reopens, I might keep rereading The Wheel of Time series as I did once before when there wasn’t a library available to me. It’s not that the work is so great, it’s that it is so vast. By the time I reach the end of what is essentially a 4,000,000-word novel, I’ve forgotten many of the connections and relationships that led to the final confrontation, so I need to reread the books to see what I missed. And by the end of the second read through, I’ve forgotten other connections.

And so it goes, the wheel of time. Around and around and around.

***

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.

 

Letter to Facebook

I’m not sure it’s worth continuing to fight Facebook over their blocking this blog from their site, but people I respect have urged me to write them a letter and send it by USPS. So, here is the letter I came up with. What do you think?

Facebook Customer Service
1 Hacker Way
Menlo Park, CA 94025

To Whom it May Concern:

On April 29, Facebook erroneously blocked my blog from the networking site. They said the blog goes against community standards for spam, but it didn’t go against any such standards when I was paying to boost various posts.

Because of the block, all links to my blog posts, included the boosted posts, have disappeared as well as the comments and discussions the posts generated. I have left messages via the onsite support center concerning this matter, but all such messages have been ignored.

Please, a thirty-second perusal of bertramsblog.com will tell you that the blog is not spam. It’s a personal blog, a diary of sorts, telling about my grief after the death of my husband and how I learned to survive the loss. These posts have helped tens of thousands of people deal with their own grief and were often shared on FB. Although I don’t talk about grief much anymore, writing instead about being a new homeowner, people still find my posts inspirational since the posts tell them that there is life and maybe even happiness after grief.

If you won’t unblock my blog, please refund the $355 I spend boosting articles that you have since removed from your site. You have also removed all mention of these ads, but I can send you documentation of these payments on Paypal.

Thank you for your consideration.

Pat Bertram
https://www.facebook.com/PatBertramAuthor/
https://www.facebook.com/patbertram
https://bertramsblog.com/

An Insular Life

When I started with the internet, blogging first then signing up for various networking platforms, I had no patience for people who posted about the minutiae of their lives. I especially didn’t care what they ate — it didn’t seem to have any relevance in the grand scheme of a thoughtful literary life, and it certainly had nothing to do with my objective of making a name for myself as an author.

Well, here I am, a dozen or so years later, writing about my latest meal. In my defense, with the isolation, meals are basically the only thing I do of any value. And generally, if I stick to a healthy diet, my meals are boring. Salads get tiresome, as does any sort of vegetable eaten regularly for any length of time, and trying to find healthy proteins is a lost cause.

Today I decided to put some effort into making something different. (It was either this or ordering a pizza I really do not need). It might not look like much, but this spinach mushroom quiche alternative (baked eggs without a crust) turned out to be quite good.

I’m continuing to wean myself away from the computer, which leaves me with little to do but read. Since I finished my emergency stash of books, and since my email to the library with a list of books for me to pick up curbside resulted in no action, I’m in emergency-emergency mode — immersed in The Wheel of Time, a 4,000,000 word literary work that I’ve read many times before. The best thing I can say about it (besides its length — no need to look for books to read for a long time!) is that it has to be the quintessential good vs evil story. Or more accurately — sort of good some of the time vs, mostly evil all of the time.

It’s exhausting, not just the constant conflicts between the good and evil, the good and good, and evil and evil, but the sheer amount of activity. All the characters are always on the move, traveling from one part of their world to another, on foot, by horse, or by ship.

And the food they eat is even less interesting than what I generally eat — so often, they are on short rations of porridge, cheese, dried meat, and crusty rolls or bread sometimes flecked with weevils. (I must admit, though, that bread or rolls hot from the oven does sound wonderful. Minus the weevils, of course.)

I’m getting to the point where I can’t imagine a different life, though I don’t know if that is a good thing or a not-so-good thing. But it is what I have, at least for now.

And anyway, even if I couldn’t find anything more relevant in the grand scheme of things than my insular life to write about, at least I’m still writing every day.

That’s something to the good. At least, I hope it is.

***

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.

Reasons For Gratitude

I took a chance today and posted one of my blog links on my Facebook author page, hoping the ban was a mistake on their part, but nope. This blog is still banned for violating their spam standards. It upset me, though it shouldn’t have. I know what they had done, and to be upset about it yet again seems a bit foolish. Still, not being able to post the link to my daily articles so that people I know on FB can see what I write, coupled with having deleted a couple of posts that were bringing hordes of the wrong kind of people has played havoc with my readership and search engine referrals. (The more people one has viewing one’s blog, the higher one’s ranking in the search engines, and the higher one’s ranking, the more people will view the blog.) Still, the people who want to read my posts follow me, and the people who need to read my grief posts should be able to find me . . . eventually.

In an effort to change my attitude after stopping by FB, I decided to make pierogi. (For those who don’t know, they are a Polish potato dumpling served with sour cream.) The long-drawn-out process — preparing the potato and cheese filling, preparing the egg-noodle dough, filling the dough squares, boiling the dumplings and then frying them — is complicated enough when more than one person is involved in the preparations, but with one person doing it all, it takes hours. But those hours were spent not thinking about anything since mostly it’s muscle memory work, so that was all to the good.

Now I’m back to myself, taking things as they come, which is even better. And for the most part, what comes is pleasant enough. I can’t go out for walks yet, but a bit of research told me that an elliptical is a great exercise for knees, and it just so happens, I have an elliptical — a hand-me down from a brother who didn’t particularly like it. I hadn’t been using the machine because all the boxes that were stored in the old garage are now stored in my exercise room, but I moved things around so I could get to the elliptical. The exercise is not something I can do for more than a few minutes at a time since it’s a much harder workout than simply walking, but it isn’t hurting my knee any, and perhaps it’s doing some good.

One of the things aggravating my knee was the steep step up into the house through the back door. Now that I know that the step was putting too much of a strain on my knees, I use the front door, even though I end up tracking dirt into the living room. (Which is why, obviously, I was using the back door.) There are plans for a new back stoop area that eliminates the steep step, but since it will be a ramp from the back door of the house to the pedestrian door of the garage, it can’t be done until the garage is built.

The garage has been on hiatus the past ten days or so — although the local lumber yard has my garage door, they won’t be able to deliver it until next week (something to do with The Bob — maybe people out sick?) So, with a bit of luck, there will be some progress made on the garage next week.

Meantime, there are many volumes of The Wheel of Time left to be re-read.

So, despite the whole insulting spam thing, there are reasons for gratitude. I’m mostly healthy, mostly well-fed, mostly content. And if I am isolated, at least I am isolated in my own house. And for that I am especially grateful.

***

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.