Updates

Printer problem fixed! I finally found a place to download the patch to the computer update that screwed up my system and made the computer unable to connect to the printer. Why the fix wasn’t automatically uploaded like the original update, I don’t know. I have a hunch it would have uploaded in the July updates, but now I don’t have to worry about the printer not working. At least not until the next update.

I’d received five lilac twigs from the Arbor Foundation a few weeks ago, and they were all alive and all doing well, and for no reason that I can see, one died overnight. (In case you haven’t noticed, plants are as much of a mystery to me as everything else.) On the other hand, some old morning glory seeds I strewed out there have started coming up, so at least that’s something.

There’s been no further activity on my garage. That’s disappointing, of course, but at least it’s enclosed so the wood and tools and such that are inside won’t go missing. Admittedly, most stuff is too heavy to be casually carted off by the larcenous folk in the neighborhood, but I wouldn’t have put it past someone to pull up in a truck and load it all up. They’ve done that before. It was just a board they came and got, but other people have lost workshops full of tools.

My knee is doing better. I wear a brace part of the time (until it starts digging painfully into my leg), and that seems to help. So does massage, isometric exercises and the herbal poultices I have been using. (Frankincense and myrrh are a couple of the ingredients, which tickles me.) I even walked a bit outside until the pit bulls running loose had me scurrying back inside my fence. (Too many people around here don’t want to walk their dogs, so they let them run loose for a while, which is a real problem, but since they are back in the yard by the time the code enforcer goes on duty, nothing is ever done about it.)

I’m still working my way (again) to the last battle in The Wheel of Time series. It’s odd how the poor fellow who was born to fight the dark powers and save the earth is so underappreciated by everyone. They all think they need to control him (they think they know everything, and they think that if they don’t force him to go, he won’t do what he’s supposed to). What I’ve been thinking about this time through is freedom. The world of the story is a sort of chivalrous feudal matriarchy, with women asserting their rights and men trying to protect women at all costs. What it comes down to is all the disparate factions, as well as powerful individuals, are trying to control everyone else. It seemed weird to me, all this insistence on obedience, until it dawned on me that modern society is rather unique where individuals can try to form their own destinies if they will, rather than conforming so much to the will of the powerful.

I think these are all the recent updates to my life. Well, the tarot. Today’s card was the two of pentacles, which told me to be flexible and adaptable. Good advice, especially in light of all these updates.

***

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.

Anatomy of a Bench

A long time ago, perhaps fifteen years or so, Ace Hardware set benches out front with their logo on the seat back. Just “Ace” without the addition of the word hardware.

For some reason that I never understood, my brother called our father “Ace.” (Maybe to keep from calling him “Dad” or “Father. I suppose I could ask, but it seems too personal.) Anyway, when my brother saw the bench, he tried to buy it from the hardware store, but they wouldn’t sell to him. He kept at it, going around to several stores, and managed to get a bench. It sat in front of my dad’s house all those years, and by the time I finally saw it, the sun had bleached off the “Ace” and the bench itself was pretty much of a mess. But since it was still functional, there it stayed.

After my father died, my brother came to help get rid of some things, and while he was dismantling the bench so he could throw it away, he asked if I was aware it converted to a picnic table. When he showed that the bench back lifted up to become a table top, I was delighted. It just seemed wonderfully clever. So of course, I had to keep the bolts and framework just in case I’d ever have a place where I could put a bench.

Last year when my brother came to help me fix up some things around the house, he brought new wood for the bench and put it together. He kept the same colors, the white table and red seat, and I considered putting the “Ace” back in honor of my father, but that didn’t seem right. I’ve been trying to figure out a different sort of decoration, and today, I finally got around to painting the design.

It looks odd to me because I got used to that stark white, but what the heck. It’s finished. And even though it doesn’t say “Ace” on it, it is a nice tribute to both my father and my brother.

***

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.

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.

Life, Death, and Tarot

According to what I’ve been reading about the tarot, there are infinite meanings to each deck, each spread, even each card depending on how it falls and how the reader reads it and what s/he reads into it. Such a lack of logic and unpermutability offends my sense of rightness (though it shouldn’t since in my own life I rebel against absolutes and allow myself to live however my personal wind blows).

If I ever do learn to use any of the decks, especially as they are supposed to be used — as a way to look inside oneself (at least that’s the impression I get for their true use) — I will need that intuition because some of the instruction booklets that come with a few of the more esoteric decks are written in Italian. Online translation programs help, but not when, as in one case, the booklet is written in an archaic version of the language that no one seems able to interpret. Too bad — it’s a lovely deck, with beautiful imagery, and all sorts of mystical symbols on the cards that are missing from other such decks. In another deck with an Italian instruction book, the suits are completely unfamiliar (lasers and scarabs. light and the void.) And one deck has an additional suit, which makes for an unwieldy stack of cards.

I’ve been spreading out the decks themselves, instead of the individual cards, to see if I can learn anything about the brother who collected them. I know he was interested in a world of things, both practical and mystical, and yet, since he was homeless, I have to wonder if he ever got a chance to use any of the things he collected, or if they were all for a future he never got to live.

The timing is right to be thinking about him — next month, it will be two years since he died. It’s not just his death that gives me pause, but that the death of this homeless man was instrumental in my gaining a home. (A change in my attitude, perhaps, from never wanting to own a house to thinking it would be a good idea, from believing it was impossible, to finding a way to make it work.) And then there is the age difference I mentioned a few days ago: growing up, he was always older and more knowledgeable, and no matter how old I got, there he was . . . a year older, too.

Well, he’s not getting any older, and I am. I’ve now lived a year longer than he did, and knowing that I caught up to him and beyond brings me no comfort.

Oddly, though, he does. Bring me comfort, I mean. Despite my being ambivalent about what if anything besides energy survives after death, I sometimes sense that he is watching out for me as he wanted to do in life but never quite managed. Obviously, I have no way of knowing whether it’s true or not, but this feeling allows me to live fearlessly in a house by myself.

It’s hard to know the truth of oneself, let alone another person, but here I am, moving the tarot decks around, trying to see . . . something. This is the second time I’ve done this — the first time was a couple of years ago when I first got the cards. Maybe this time — or the next — will bring enlightenment. I hope so. It would certainly be easier than actually learning how to use the cards.

***

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.

 

What Happened to May?

April seemed to linger forever. The days themselves passed at a normal rate, but when I woke each the morning, I thought for sure several days had passed rather than just one. It could be due to waking several times extra each night because of pain in my knee, or it could be the dozes I fell into while reading. (As interesting as it is to study a work, such as I am doing with The Wheel of Time series, the passages I remember clearly, especially the dreary ones, tend to get boring so I skip them or fall asleep, which negates the purpose of deconstructing the story.)

For whatever reason, April did pass, and now suddenly it’s the middle of June. Huh? What happened to May? I don’t remember May at all. It must have gotten subsumed into The Wheel of Time, either the story or the Tibetan wheel that gave the series its name.

More probably, though, I was concentrating on moving things along that didn’t want to move — a knee that didn’t want to heal quickly, plants that didn’t want to grow (there aren’t many living things that can deal with a drought, freezing temperatures one day and ninety degrees the next, and an ignorant caregiver through it all), as well as a garage that is being built at an equally slow pace. Which made for a strangely unmoving experience where every day was the same as every other day.

But now it’s June and somehow things did change during May. The knee is better, the transplanted bushes are alive even if they’re not exactly thriving, the flowers that wanted to bloom did and the rest are resting in peace. And the garage is much further along than it had been. (We’re past the stage of needing an inspector, so my worries of needing to get a second building permit never came to fruition.)

I need a new plan for planting, though. The bulbs did not do well at all, so sadly, I glance at the catalogs full of spring blooms that decorate my otherwise empty mailbox, and toss them aside. It’s possible the bulbs would grow despite the clay soil if I dug deep holes, filled them with potting soil, and then . . . what? Water them? It’s hard to know what to do in a drought, so it’s best if I wait for the wheel to turn to a more propitious time (or for me to learn way more than I know now about taking care of the poor things).

So now here’s June, but it might as well still be May for all the changes that are occurring. The knee still is not well enough to take walks (though well enough to do whatever I need to do around the house without exorbitant pain.) The bushes aren’t growing in this horrible heat and wind. The garage still needs to be finished. And I’m still reading (or rather rereading) the same fantasy series.

I do know it’s June, though it feels more like July, so that’s something. At the very least, another month won’t slip into the same black hole that May did.

Not that it really matters what month it is. April, May, June — they are all just names for that which flows beneath the wheel of time.

***

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.

Elusive Knowledge

The Dunning-Kruger effect is a term for our inability to step back and objectively look at our aptitudes and behaviors. This is especially obvious when it comes to bombastic folk who act as if they know it all. These windbags talk incessantly about their own world view, but refuse to acknowledge the validity of any other. It makes sense, of course, because they’ve boxed themselves in with their pomposity, so that whatever is in the box is all that is real, and they know everything in their box.

Many people are touched by this effect in a small way, so that even if they are open-minded about some things, other ideas are boxed off, and they simply will not entertain different possibilities, especially in areas such as politics, current issues, religion. Which is why I try to stay away from such topics. I don’t mind people disagreeing with my own views if they extend to me the same courtesy I extend to them of listening to what they have to say, but too often, they have to have the last word. Or rather, the only word. And so I’ve learned to let them have that word early on to save a whole lot of aggravation later.

I hope I’m not one of those who are closed off without being aware of it. I do have pet ideas, of course — we all do — but I tend to think the way this Dunning-Kruger effect rules my life lies in a different direction, either by my underestimating my intellectual capability (some people think I’m smarter and more knowledgeable than I feel I am) or, as I so often fear, by my overestimating my capability and thinking I’m smarter than I really am. I have no way of knowing which is the truth because of the above stated inability for us to observe ourselves objectively.

I don’t think I have locked myself into a narrow box, though. I’ve always been aware that there is so much more out there than what I know. (Which is perhaps why I sometimes think I’m not all that smart or knowledgeable — I can sense how little I know, how little I can know.)

From what my mother told me, as a baby and as a toddler, and even into my early schoolgirl days, I idolized my older brother. It seemed to me he could do anything, and that year of life experience he had over me made him seem . . . omniscient. Each year, I could hardly wait until my birthday so I could catch up to him, and it always came as a shock that he was still a year older, still a year wiser.

Having bad eyesight at an early age added to the awareness of all that I didn’t know. It also created a sort of cognitive dissonance where I knew I was smart enough to get good grades but was too ignorant to know what everyone else seemed to know intuitively, such as what the names of streets were and how to tell the different trees apart. Even when I got my glasses and realized how everyone knew such things — they could see street signs! They could see individual leaves! — the dissonance remained.

My father didn’t believe in television for children. He wanted to raise his kids to be independent thinkers (as long as we thought the way he did), and that lack of cultural conditioning added to the feeling of not knowing. I remember a group of girls giggling about double-barreled slingshots, and they laughed at me when I asked what those were. It wasn’t until many years later when I happened to see a Beverly Hillbillies show that I got the joke. Way too little, way too late!

This idea of elusive knowledge, of knowledge waiting for me made me excited about school every year. For a week or two. Then I realized that whatever knowledge I wanted was still out of reach (I was one of those kids who read the school books during the first days of school, so I knew exactly what I would and wouldn’t be taught). I especially remember senior year in high school. “This is the year I will get to learn,” I thought. I was going to finally have a great teacher. (At least that’s what her previous students said.) On the first day of class, the teacher gave us an assignment: “Write an essay about what you expect to get from your senior year, and don’t give me any sycophantic nonsense about wanting to learn.” I just stared at her. This was the teacher who would finally teach me? As it turned out, no. Too many seniors wanted to take her class, and even though I had been one of the first to sign up, I was kicked out. (The only time my name was ever drawn out of a hat.)

Luckily, there were books. A lifetime of books. And just when I got to thinking I had a grip on some of what life had to teach, Jeff died, and the realization of how little I knew started all over again. If something as immense as grief had been hiding from me all my life, what else has been hidden? That question haunted me for many years, and in fact helped drive me through the worst of my pain. I thought perhaps something wonderful was waiting for me on the other side, but the only thing wonderful that happened was that I survived. And I gained a lot of knowledge about grief that has been of benefit to many people.

The sense of impending . . . something . . . has pretty much dissipated over the years since Jeff died, and I now let life offer me what it will.

Well, except for bombastic folks. Those I walk away from whenever I can.

***

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.