Thirty Days Hath September

Am I the only one who has to recite the ditty whenever I need to know how many days in a month? Thirty days hath September, April, June and November . . .

I thought the above was a clever way to begin a blog on this last day of September, but I have no more cleverness with which to follow it up. The month is almost over and tomorrow begins another month, but that’s nothing new or clever. It generally happens every thirty or thirty-one days. Though I must admit, turning over a clean page on my calendar is rather nice.

Not on a lot is written on my calendar for October yet — a couple of birthdays, a notation of when I next need to turn in my time sheet, a reminder to post a pre-blog-for-peace blog on the fourth. (Every year, bloggers all over the world blog for peace on the fourth of November; and this year is no exception.) I also have a note that at the end of the month, my sister will be 21,000 days old. I’m trying to think of something special to celebrate the day, but in the end, I’ll probably just send a text. Since it’s not exactly a Hallmark occasion, no cards or gifts for the special day are readily available.

Missing as yet from October’s calendar is the day of publication, the day my newest novel will be available for sale. When I get that date, I can assure you, it won’t just go on my calendar, but will be blasted all over the internet. Well, blast might not be the word, but I will announce it especially since I know people will want to read a book about God deciding s/he’s fed up with humanity and decides to recreate the world. To be honest, with all that’s going on, I’m surprised it hasn’t happened in real life rather than simply in my febrile imagination.

This upcoming novel is a real departure for me — no mystery or suspense other than the suspense of wondering what God and his right-hand entity are going to do next to our luckless hero and how the poor guy is going to survive the re-creation. But maybe it’s not that big of a departure now that I think of it. A minister once told me, “You have a marvelous ability to write the longest parables in all of literature. You unglue the world as it is perceived and rebuild it in a wiser and more beautiful way.”

This new novel is definitely about ungluing the world and rebuilding it (though whether wiser and more beautiful is still to be determined), so the parable nature is one way it ties in with all my other books. It also has an underlying humor to it, maybe more so than my other books. In earlier blogs, I referred to it as a whimsically ironic apocalyptic novel, also as Humor Metamorphosing into Horror Metamorphosing into Allegory. My publisher is classifying the novel variously as absurdist, urban fantasy, humorous science fiction. Which is another sign of a Pat Bertram novel — one that can’t be easily categorized.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. This is still the old month, even if it is on its deathbed. I still have September time left to water my plants, walk, work my few hours, and read.

Sounds like a nice way to spend a lovely fall day. Hope you too enjoy your thirtieth day of September. Toodaloo until next month.

***

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.

Always Some Excitement

There’s always some excitement when one owns a house. This morning, it was the infernal chirping that sounded as if the smoke alarm in my hallway needed attention. I changed the batteries even though I had changed all the batteries in the alarms just a month or so ago. When the alarm still chirped, I figured the culprit had to be the smoke alarm a mere three feet away on the other side of the hall doorway. So I changed those batteries, too.

Still chirping.

Thinking that maybe one or the other of the batteries I’d just switched out were bad, I changed the batteries again. It didn’t make any difference.

There is a third smoke alarm a few feet away from the hall alarm — this one right inside my bedroom. I went into the bedroom and shut the door so I could hear if the alarm was in the room. Nope. It was very obviously on the other side of the door.

I checked online to see if there was something I was overlooking, and the article I read mentioned that if the battery door wasn’t closed properly, the alarm would still chirp. I checked, and yes, the door on one of the alarms hadn’t clicked completely shut. I heaved a sigh of relief, thinking the problem was solved.

But no.

Still chirping.

For a second, I considered the idea that a real live cricket had managed to find its way inside, but crickets don’t chirp ever minute or so like clockwork. And as far as I know, they don’t chirp in the daytime.

I stood in the hallway, surrounded by all those alarms, and listened, wondering what I would do and who I could call if I couldn’t figure out this dilemma. I could call my contractor, and although it’s not the sort of thing he normally does, I know he’d come and help if he could, but he’s working several towns away and probably wouldn’t be able to stop by today. I considered pulling out the chirping alarm but I didn’t know which alarm to pull or how to remove it. (I know how to remove the alarm cover, but don’t know how to disengage the wiring.)

The law says an alarm has to be outside a kitchen, and inside and outside the bedrooms, and this is what led to the mess I have, with so many alarms in such a very small area, making it almost impossible to pinpoint the troublemaker. Despite that, I did manage to rule out the alarm behind me in the hallway as the faux cricket.

There is also a carbon monoxide detector in the same vicinity, and as I stood in the doorway between the two detectors, I realized the chirping wasn’t coming from above, but at my feet. I didn’t even know a carbon monoxide detector that was plugged into an outlet could chirp. But obviously, it could because after I pulled it out of the outlet, the chirping stopped.

Blessed silence.

Luckily, I knew that particular outlet was connected to a gfci breaker in the basement, of all places. (A couple of days after I bought the house, the former owners stopped by to tell me about the bizarre placing of that particular gfci reset button and a few other idiosyncrasies of the house.) So I went down the stairs, reset the breaker, and plugged the carbon monoxide detector back in.

Still silence.

I considered moving the detector to another outlet, and maybe I should, but then I wouldn’t know if that breaker was tripped. But does it matter if I know? It’s not as if I’m going to be doing anything in the basement, and I hope that anyone who goes down there to work would know enough to reset the breaker if the outlet didn’t work. I don’t know why it would have tripped anyway except that the workers who were last in the basement had left a cord plugged into the outlet that wasn’t attached to anything on the opposite end. Just the cord. No appliance or tool. (It’s not something I would have done, but then, what do I know.)

Such excitement!

I’m sitting here enjoying the silence, but hanging over me is the thought that there will be another time.

Still, I manage to survive this episode. Chances are I will survive the next.

***

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.

The Joy of Discussion

I talked to a long-time friend yesterday. It was truly wonderful to be able discuss all the topics that confound me about today’s world without either of us once raising our voices. (Though I’m ashamed to admit, I did interrupt her more than a time or two.) We didn’t always agree, but we didn’t need to agree to disagree, either. That went with the respect and intelligence we both brought to the discussion.

One thing we both find shocking and appalling is that many of the issues concerning people today, such as the whole systematic racist thing, we thought had been settled long ago. And it had been. In our laws (though perhaps not always in individual cases), all people have equal rights, except when they don’t. Any equality in law (again, not always in action), tends to favor minorities with the various programs aimed at giving people equal representation in government and business.

And yet, here we are — decades after the war on poverty, decades after affirmative action, decades after billions of dollars have been spent to mend some of the discrepancies in our society — and the grandchildren and great-grandchildren who should have inherited the benefits of these programs are worse off than their progenitors. Not all, of course. I’d be interested in knowing what’s the percentage of blacks who have been assimilated into the wider culture of the USA vs. those who have clung to the inner-city culture. I bet there’s a greater percentage than the rhetoric we are being fed would lead us to believe. (It must be appalling to these successful and law-abiding people to be lumped in with the rioters and law-breakers, to be constantly reminded of their victimhood when in fact they don’t believe they are victims of oppression.)

My friend and I didn’t just stick to this topic, of course. We swept through the whole gamut of issues. From MeToo (and the problems of both supporting the movement and yet worrying about how all this hatred toward men will affect boys today and the men they will grow into), the upcoming election, The Bob, and all sorts of other concerns.

But the main topic (at least for me) seemed to be the protests, the riots, and the destruction of lives. (If you destroy someone’s livelihood, if you burn down everything they hold dear, you destroy their life.)

I left the conversation wondering if any of the local rioters ask themselves what they are gaining. (I say local rioters because those coming into various cities to do damage know exactly what they are doing.) Do the local rioters truly want anarchy? Do they really want a city without a police force? Do they really want to bring down this country? Do they really think that destroying small businesses is advancing the cause of minority individuals rather than serving corporate interests? (People are starting to ask who is funding the riots, but that’s no big secret. All you have to do is run a quick search to find out what corporations are contributing to what cause.)

I also realized why all this confuses me — I don’t have all the pieces of the puzzle. For example, last night I read an article mentioning that a Duke University professor had been fired because (among other reasons), some students had complained about his handling of a discussion on race. The complaint? The professor had presented various points of view, which distressed those students who thought there was only one way to think about things.

How was I supposed to know problems such as this exist? I did know most people cling to their opinions without giving credence to anyone else’s. I did know there are those who try to manipulate people into believing that their side is the right side. What I didn’t know is that a certain segment of society simply cannot believe there is another side.

Which is why it was nice talking to my friend. We are both lifelong readers, so we have both lived myriad lives, experienced myriad points of view, cried over injustices. We see sides that others ignore, try to see through other people’s eyes (because that’s what reading does, shows us a different way of seeing). Unfortunately, neither one of us can see a peaceful resolution of this current mess.

But we were able to discuss, to question, to see perhaps a bit of order to the chaos. And that is a rare joy, indeed.

***

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.

Writing a Book Summary

Blogging is easy for me. It’s mostly a matter of letting my stream of consciousness flow through my finger tips onto the page. There’s not a lot of thinking, because either the thinking has been done or my thoughts are being processed as I write. The only time it’s hard is when my mind is blank — it’s hard to stream something that isn’t there. Often, though, I can start writing and an idea will show up that I can develop into a blog post, even if it’s only to say that my mind is blank.

Writing novels isn’t that difficult once I get started. It’s more a matter of sitting down and working out the puzzle and trying not to get bored by the necessary scenes. (The scenes that are necessary to the story, but that have been in my head so long it seems as if they’ve already been written.) What’s hard is getting started. To me, writing a novel is about finally getting the story out of my head, but if there is no story caroming around trying to get out, I have no real impetus to write.

Writing at someone else’s request is whole other situation. It feels too much like homework, and although I never minded homework when I was young, at least I don’t think I did, my mind now balks at having to do something by request.

This latest “something” isn’t onerous. It just feels like it because of the aforesaid balky mind. I’m supposed to be writing a summary of my soon-to-be-published book (my publisher is aiming for October 20!). Even though it’s been a while since I last worked on the book, I mostly remember it. (I’m looking forward to the day I completely forget so I can read it as if it’s new to me.) I just need to summarize it in a way that will entice everyone to read it. Because of course everyone will want to read the book, they just don’t know it yet. And it’s not as if I have to write a synopsis of the whole thing to get a publisher interested, because he already is interested and working on putting the book together. All I need is a short 300 word blurb and a longer 3000 word summary.

Shouldn’t be difficult, right? But apparently, I prefer to write about writing the blurb than to actually write it.

You’d think I would have been smart enough to have already written it, knowing the book was going to be published, but somehow, just like with homework, I’ve put it off until the last minute. (Actually, that’s not true. For the most part, I think I did homework right away so I wouldn’t have it hanging over me.) In this way, at least, I was much more disciplined as a child.

But I am thinking about the synopsis, so that’s something, right? Maybe if I think about it long enough, it will pretend to be a blog post and I can just let it flow through my fingers onto the page.

Then the real work starts: a bio. You’d think after almost 3,000 blog posts, many of them about my life, it would be easy to come up with something interesting to say in a bio, but nope. Total blank.

***

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.

Everyday Magic

After the past four days of enumerating and celebrating my blog accomplishments, I woke this morning feeling uneasy. I have spent the past ten and a half years talking about my life, my grief, my feelings, my traumas, and the dramas that seem to follow me. (Before that, I mostly talked about reading and writing, but Jeff’s death blew me wide open, and that was reflected here on this blog.) Suddenly, after all this time, I’m uneasy, unsure that I like people knowing so much about me. It makes me vulnerable, and seems to put me at a disadvantage with people I see in real life. Do I really want them to know my innermost thoughts? Do I really want them to see my soul bared? It doesn’t seem a smart thing to do.

For example, too many people here have guessed the identity of the one person in town I try to avoid (this person’s insulting remarks were the last straw for me and Facebook), and that’s more than I want anyone to know. I’m also not sure how comfortable I am discussing things that bother me when I know the people involved will be reading what I write. I’ve been censoring myself to an extent because of this, but even so, I tend to think I say too much. Still, whatever a person says to an author and blogger is fair game for a writing topic. That’s what I do — I write about what happens in my life and try to find a lesson or gratitude or some sort of accommodation with the occurrence.

But it does make me vulnerable, and I wonder how wise I am to continue with my way of blogging.

One thing in particular happened, a minor occurrence for sure, but I took it to heart. This added to my confusion about continuing the blog path I’m on, mostly because I wanted to write about it and wasn’t sure if I should. And yet, it is a bloggable situation.

The other day, I was driving back from a nearby town when I happened to see a vehicle ready to pull onto the highway. After I passed, it pulled in behind me, and it stayed behind me as we headed into town. This tickled me because it was only the day before that I had seen the vehicle for the first time, and I knew who was driving. It seemed a bit of serendipity, even solidarity, on what is normally a faceless and friendless highway. One of life’s small miracles. Everyday magic.

The other driver’s reaction? That I drive slowly.

Huh? When is driving the speed limit slowly? Well, to be honest, it almost always is. Several cars had passed me, crossing a double-yellow line to get ahead of me shortly before I met up with this particular driver. I wonder what all those drivers would have done if I had been driving 55mph the way I’m supposed to. Driving 65mph is not a good idea for a car with such a small, air-cooled engine, and my mechanic cautioned me about burning out the engine. Still, I sailed along at 65 until we hit town, and then I slowed way down to the new speed limit, and then way, way down when it came time to turn.

I tend to forget that people don’t know there are cars without power steering, power brakes, and automatic transmissions. If you’ve ever driven such a car, you know you can’t slow at the last minute and then careen around a corner. You have to brake in plenty of time, and then downshift to make a safe turn.

Still, this wasn’t the point. The point is that I thought the drive into town was something special, a bit of magic, and the other driver thought I drove too slowly.

I just realized I answered my dilemma. This episode is not a reason to back off from telling my truth, the only thing unique I have to write about, but is instead a reason to keep going. Someone needs to point out the minor miracles, the everyday magic, the important lessons, and the serendipitous moments on the road of life that would otherwise pass unnoticed.

I’m sure my uneasiness will eventually dissipate. After all, considering the myriad heartfelt grief posts I’ve written, I’m no stranger to vulnerability.

***

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.

Who Visits My Blog

Someone asked me yesterday if anyone reads my blog. She seemed shocked when I told her people all around the world have visited this blog. Most come from the USA and other English speaking countries. Others come from countries I’ve never even heard of, and yet, someone in those countries has heard of me. What an amazing thing the internet is!

Here is a map showing where my visitors originate:

Pink shows visitors, and the darker the pink, the more visitors. Apparently, if I am reading the map correctly, the only places from which no visitors have come are Svalbard, Turkmenistan, Western Sahara, Guinea-Bissau, Chad, and Central African Republic. I find this utterly astonishing. Not to be disingenuous, but I simply can’t imagine being interesting enough to attract so many different people.

Here is the incredible list of countries where visitors have come from. (The number represents visitations only, not views, since often people click on more than one blog entry, and each click is a view):

United States400,695
United Kingdom71,399
Canada47,758
India43,550
Australia27,431
Philippines8,063
Pakistan7,222
Ireland7,190
South Africa5,205
Malaysia4,555
New Zealand4,548
Singapore4,230
France3,868
Germany3,578
European Union2,706
Indonesia2,385
Netherlands2,166
Brazil1,754
United Arab Emirates1,670
Italy1,574
Hong Kong SAR China1,434
Spain1,381
Russia1,358
Norway1,297
Saudi Arabia1,153
Thailand1,140
Nigeria1,,136
Denmark1,130
Sweden1,102
Japan1,095
Vietnam1,089
Bangladesh1,075
Turkey1,015
Lebanon987
Belgium966
Romania935
Mexico901
Kenya882
South Korea839
Switzerland803
Greece772
Poland761
Argentina706
Nepal682
Israel630
Egypt613
Sri Lanka601
Portugal577
Jamaica574
Finland500
Trinidad & Tobago473
Austria462
Taiwan433
Qatar405
Hungary383
Ukraine362
Malta351
Jordan349
Ghana343
Cambodia332
Serbia329
Czech Republic314
Mauritius312
Bulgaria310
China291
Morocco278
Kuwait275
Croatia264
Slovakia242
Puerto Rico236
American Samoa233
Colombia232
Bahrain219
Slovenia216
Oman196
Iraq186
Tunisia186
Albania181
Algeria176
Tanzania172
Chile170
Cyprus160
Bahamas158
Uganda149
Zimbabwe149
Palestinian Territories148
Myanmar (Burma)148
Lithuania147
Estonia135
Georgia126
Iceland124
Latvia124
British Virgin Islands123
Peru117
Macedonia107
Ecuador106
Costa Rica106
Venezuela104
Guyana103
Botswana102
Brunei98
Bosnia & Herzegovina98
Belize96
Panama93
Armenia92
Isle of Man90
Jersey86
Maldives83
Barbados83
Fiji82
Bhutan75
Luxembourg75
Azerbaijan74
Namibia71
Afghanistan70
Dominican Republic67
Zambia63
Syria62
Kazakhstan61
Yemen59
Antigua & Barbuda59
Ethiopia58
Moldova57
Grenada56
Guatemala55
Papua New Guinea53
Malawi52
Guernsey51
Belarus51
Macau SAR China50
Bermuda50
St. Lucia49
Uruguay48
Cayman Islands47
Guam46
Cameroon46
St. Vincent & Grenadines45
El Salvador43
Libya38
Senegal38
Laos34
Lesotho34
Curaçao33
Rwanda32
Montenegro31
Gibraltar31
Bolivia31
Honduras31
Paraguay29
Mongolia27
Aruba27
Nicaragua27
Swaziland26
U.S. Virgin Islands25
Mozambique24
Monaco24
Suriname21
Sudan20
St. Kitts & Nevis20
Dominica19
Côte d’Ivoire17
Seychelles17
Northern Mariana Islands16
Somalia15
Kyrgyzstan14
Åland Islands14
Uzbekistan12
Congo – Kinshasa12
Angola10
Vanuatu9
Madagascar9
Réunion8
Anguilla7
Liberia7
Guadeloupe7
Djibouti7
Solomon Islands6
Caribbean Netherlands6
Faroe Islands6
Sierra Leone6
Turks & Caicos Islands4
Cook Islands4
Haiti4
Benin4
Liechtenstein3
Burundi3
French Polynesia3
Iran3
Gambia3
Gabon3
Cuba3
Martinique2
Sint Maarten2
Tajikistan2
Timor-Leste2
Mali2
Micronesia2
Falkland Islands1
French Guiana1
St. Helena1
Vatican City1
Samoa1
Burkina Faso1
South Sudan1
Mauritania1
Netherlands Antilles1
Niger1
Congo – Brazzaville1
Cape Verde1
Kiribati1
Marshall Islands1
Montserrat1
Greenland1

***

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 Thirteenth Bloggiversary to Me!

I created this blog exactly thirteen years ago today, back when I hadn’t yet become a published author, back when I had just acquired my first computer and didn’t even know what a blog was. I had read how important blogging was for authors, both as a way of getting known and as a way of connecting with readers, so I decided to “act as if” I were going to be published in the hopes of making it happen. I had nothing to say, no one to say it to, no reason to say anything, but I didn’t let that stop me. I started blogging on September 24, 2007, and haven’t stopped since.

Did acting as if I were going to get published work? Perhaps, though there is no direct connection that I know of. Still, one and a half years after starting this blog, my first two books were published. I now have eight books available: five suspense novels, one mystery, and two non-fiction books about grief. A ninth book will soon be published, a novel that my publisher said, “is playful, fun and well-written. It spans genres, so I’m not sure if there is an exploitable target audience. I don’t care. I like it.”

Two-and-half years after I started this blog, my life mate/soul mate died, and his death catapulted me into a world of such pain that it bled over into my posts. This blog became a place where I could try to make sense of what I was going through, to offer comfort and be comforted, to find my way to renewed life. And I struck a chord with people who were also dealing with grief. It’s no wonder my top posts are grief related: What Do You Say to Someone Who is Grieving at Christmas? with 82,261 views and The Five Major Challenges We Face During the Second Year of Grief with 38,122 views.

This blog sustained me during the years I cared for my father after Jeff’s death, and it gave me a place to rest when my father died four years later, and I was thrown out into the world, alone and orphaned.

And this blog offered me a place to call home when I set out alone on a five-month, 12,000 mile cross-country road trip, gave me a place where I could talk about all the wonders I was seeing. Often on that trip, when I was between visits with online friends, I thought of William Cowper’s words: How sweet, how passing sweet, is solitude! But grant me still a friend in my retreat, whom I may whisper, solitude is sweet. And this blog became a place where I could whisper, “Solitude is sweet.”

Currently, as I am continuing to settle into a house of my own, it’s nice to know that whatever life throws at me, whatever problems I encounter, whatever challenges and adventures — and joys — come my way, this blog will be here for me.

During the past thirteen years, I have written 2,842 blogs, received 19,481 comments, and garnered 873,352 views. It amazes me that anyone wants to read anything that I write here. This is so much a place for just letting my thoughts roam, for thinking through problems, and (I admit it) for pontificating a bit. It’s been a kick, writing this blog, and I want to thank all of you for indulging my whims and whimsys.

Thank you for reading. Thank you all for your comments, your likes, your support. They have meant more to me (especially this past ten and a half years) than you can ever imagine.

***

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.

100 Days

There are one hundred days until the end of the year. What are you going to do with those days? Will you finally get around to the New Year’s resolutions you made and promptly forgot? Are you going to slack off, giving yourself permission to take a break from the breakneck speed of your life? Are you going to get going on that novel you wanted to start, continue, finish, or edit? Are you going to make inroads in the pile of to-be-read books on your nightstand, or finally read some of those ebooks you downloaded? Are you going attempt the photography project you always wanted to do? Are you going to blog every day?

That’s what I’m going to do — recommit to blogging every day. I’ve been blogging every day for the past 365 days, and I intend to extend that commitment to the end of the year. (I’ll try to make the blogs interesting because posting something just to post something sort of negates the “challenge” part.) Feel free to join me! We can help each other, offering encouragement or topics when the will begins to wane. And it does. When I was grieving, it was easier to come up with topics than it is now when I am in a more comfortable situation. It’s hard to find lesson in being at peace. I suppose peace is a lesson in itself, but what can you say beyond that you’re at peace?

Still, I do manage to find something to write about. My sincere apologies for the more mindless posts and my eternal gratitude to everyone who reads what I write. A special thank you to those who comment, and a heartfelt appreciation for the thought-provoking responses. It’s always good to have more thoughts in my head than simply those I put there.

Even in a year as difficult and as slow as this one, the days do pass. And in 100 days it will be over. I have no great belief that next year will be better, so it’s not as though I’m counting down to the end of the year in order to get rid of this one. It’s more about taking something besides fear and isolation out of this year. It’s about making this year count, or at least making the last 100 days count. How are you going to make your days count?

***

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

Celebrating Milestones

Today is my 365th straight day of blogging. A whole year’s worth of posts! That is certainly a milestone worth celebrating.

Tomorrow marks 100 days until the end of the year, another milestone worth celebrating. That is the day I make resolutions, if I need to make any. New Year’s resolutions are complicated because a year is so very long, especially this year. I can do 100 days. Maybe not easily, but it is possible. So, my resolutions are the same ones I always make — to blog each of those days, to try to lose a few pounds, to exercise more. And I’m sure I’ll continue my tarot studies, one card at a time.

Thursday, the final of these three milestones, will be my bloggiversary — the thirteenth anniversary of when I started this blog. That first blog post was a short one. It said simply:

Am I an aspiring writer? I have written 4 books, rewritten them, and will continue rewriting them until they are perfected.

No. I am not an aspiring writer. I am aspiring to be a published writer.

And that is what I became — a published writer. Soon, maybe even by the end of this year or the beginning of next year, my ninth book will be published. This particular work of fiction will be a real departure for me, not suspense (except to the extent that all novels are suspenseful), not a book about grief. Maybe it could be considered an allegory, maybe fantasy, maybe a lot of things. But always a Pat Bertram story.

It was a hard book to write because it was the last one Jeff brainstormed with me, and he died before it could be finished. It sat for years with only an occasional word being added because it was simply too painful to write. Every time I looked at the manuscript I was reminded he was gone.

But I did finish the book. And it will be published.

Although I haven’t been interested in writing (except this blog, of course), the first paragraph of a sequel to this special book recently popped into my head. And the novel does demand a sequel. With two children being born, one named Adam and one Eve, the book cries out for a second installment to the story.

Oops. Maybe I gave too much away with those names. Since there are religious overtones, I worried people would think it sacrilegious considering my — at times — irreverent outlook, so I had some of my religious friends read it, and they assured me it’s fine. As one reader emailed me, “As to your question about offending Christian readers, any Christian reader who gets beyond the title (which is perfect — enticing, with just the right level of warning, like one of those TVMALV ratings) will most likely delight in spotting Biblical echoes, enjoy the broken-creation and God/god themes, and eagerly wonder how on earth you’re going to end it. Your final scene is a perfect surprise — a beautifully apt and satisfying end to the tale, which really doesn’t need to fit any religious conviction; it creates and completes its own convincing artifice. I love it!

I can hardly wait for you to be able to read the book. And no, I won’t mention the title just yet — it will tell too much about the story, and I don’t want to give anyone else the idea for a story of their own before the book is safely in print.

The book was never supposed to have any religious overtones or undertones. The theme is actually more of a political one, eternally apropos, and never more so than today: How much freedom we are willing to give up for safety, how much safety we are willing to give up for freedom, and in the end, since freedom tends to be an illusion, it’s about embracing responsibility.

I got off the track of milestones for a bit there, but chalk it up to enthusiasm for my new book.

I have much to be grateful for this first day of autumn, which, come to think of it, is another milestone to celebrate. We made it through this endless summer and are now heading for more glorious days.

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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

Concrete Developments

The long awaited day finally arrived. Such excitement! First, the Cat skid steer came to the party.

While waiting for the everyone else to get here, the early arrivals scavenged cinder blocks and bricks from around the property to cut down on the amount of concrete that will be needed. And such an easy way to get rid of unwanted scraps!

Then the cement mixer showed up, and the party began. The work party, anyway. I just sat and watched.

It was amazing how, with so many guys working, there wasn’t a single problem. They each seemed to know what they were supposed to do, and they did it.

The skid steer definitely made things easier. Originally, the work was going to be done by two men with a wheelbarrow since there was no way the cement mixer could get all the way into the back yard.

As it was, they had to rip out part of the fence so they could get the Cat and the concrete into the yard, but luckily, these were the very guys who had installed the fence in the first place, so they put it back as good as new.

I worried that having so much concrete would take away from the expansive feeling of the yard, but it doesn’t. It becomes a bit of a focal point as well as creating an island garden.

One thing I liked about the way these people worked, was even though the skid steer tore up my yard, they pretty much drove it along the pathway where they will be building a walkway.

The only bad part about all of this is that I have to wait until the concrete dries to be able to use the back door again. But soon. Three days at most. Yay!

There will be handrails, in case you’re wondering, but those haven’t been made yet.

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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