Vehicle Repair and Other Woes

Although most people who get the current vaccines have no troubles, others get sick with mild flu-like symptoms, some end up in the hospital with blood clots, and others end up feeling worse than they did when they had The Bob.

This is what happened to my mechanic and why he wasn’t available to put the new ignition in my car yesterday when I showed up for an appointment. He’s feeling better, and I now have a new appointment. Maybe, finally, we’ll (I say “we,” but I mean “he”) get the car back on the road.

The only other news for today is that I contacted the orchard where I bought my greengage plum trees because of a suggestion someone left on my blog about the trees not doing well. I’d considered just letting the new growth at the base of the tree take over, but she said to check to make sure the trees weren’t grafted onto a different root stock. It turns out that yes, they are. Luckily, there is a bit of growth above the rootstock.

I took photos of the trees and sent them to the company as I was instructed. Now I just have to wait to see if they have any suggestions. One of the trees is unimportant. Well, all trees are important. I mean it’s unimportant in my landscaping scheme. In fact, I’m not sure I actually want it where it is, but if I can keep it alive, that will be good, too. The other one that is not doing well is definitely where I want it, so if it can’t be helped, I will order a replacement. (They only replace trees at their expense if there is no green.) Either way, there are no trees to order right now — according to the woman I talked to, they won’t be opening the site for orders until June. That gives me a month to see what I can do with the trees I now have.

I’d be more concerned about my care of the trees, but the third tree is doing well; it even has a couple of blossoms! So I’m hoping it was just the luck of the draw and they my trees didn’t commit hari-kari to get away from me.

It looks as if the danger of frost is minimal from here on, so as soon as my car is drivable, I’ll go on a hunt for bedding flowers and hanging plants. If nothing else, they will give myself something else to worry about.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Bits of Life

This is a cocooning sort of day, with dark skies, mist instead of the expected rain, and solitude. It wasn’t supposed to be a day of isolation — workers were supposed to come, and I was supposed to take my car to the mechanic.

It’s no wonder the workers didn’t come — with 80% chance of rain, this wouldn’t have been a good time to do any of my outside work, so I wasn’t really expecting them.

I did take my car to the mechanic, but he was closed. In these “Bob” times, it’s a bit worrisome, but there have been other such dreary days when he didn’t go to work for whatever reason. Sometimes he’s there with the doors since he prefers to use rainy days to get caught up, but today wasn’t one of those days. The real issue, for me, is that there is only one day a week when he can work on my car. He doesn’t work weekends, and he can’t work around my work schedule — he needs the car the whole day, to give it plenty of time to run after he’s replaced the ignition to make sure all the parts “talk” to each other, and he leaves his shop before I get off work — so the only day that’s left is Monday.

My main concern was with the car starting after sitting for so long (because of the ignition problems, I didn’t want to drive, and it took a little bit more than three weeks for the part to come in), but my trusty VW started right up. It’s been perfect temperatures for the car — warm enough to keep the engine from freezing and the battery from being depleted, cool enough to keep the gas in the fuel lines from evaporating. I’m hoping the mechanic is fine and that we will be back on track for next Monday, though maybe, since he missed work today, he will be willing to stay open later one day this week to give himself plenty of time to work on the car.

Either way, it’s okay. It’s not as if I drive a lot. If it weren’t for my sporadic concern about the car sitting for so long, I probably wouldn’t even have noticed I wasn’t driving. That’s the benefit of having a grocery store within walking distance and friends who invite me to go shopping with them.

And for more localized news: the wind has been quiet today, but yesterday, after I posted my blog, it blew fiercely. Luckily, my little gnome and his home survived the winds without moving. One of my solar lights didn’t fare as well, so when I got back home after my truncated trip to the mechanic, I spent several minutes picking up bits of glass.

Also, after I posted the photos of my rocky garden yesterday, I grabbed a couple of shovels of the red “breeze” gravel that’s to be used for my pathways, and sprinkled in on the ground in the rocky garden to give it a bit of color. It’s funny — I almost felt as if I were doing something wrong, as if I were stealing from the workmen. Even if the gravel belonged to them, they wouldn’t mind sharing a shovel’s worth, but it finally dawned on me that the gravel is mine. I paid for it, so I can do with it what I wish, especially since they’re not here to work with it.

That’s all my news for the day. That’s what happens when one is living in a cocoon, no matter how temporary (though come to think of it, cocoons by definition are temporary), nothing major seems to happen. Just bits of life.

***

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

My Rocky Garden

Ever since I moved to my house, whenever I came across a rock in the yard, which was frequently, I’d toss it onto a pile with the other rocks I’d gathered. I used some of them to form circles around small plants, like my hen and chicks, so that neither I nor anyone else would trample the plants. But still the pile grew. So today I decided to do something about it.

There’s a large rock in the yard that some people say is the fossil of a sea slug. I didn’t know what else to do with it, so I piled a bunch of rocks around the maybe fossil to emphasize it, because no matter what it is, it is interesting. It’s sort of hidden in the back of the garden, but there is no way I’d ever be able to move the thing. Maybe I’ll find tiny flowers to plant around the base of the structure to make it even more interesting, but for now, I’m happy with my rock formation.

I’d planned to paint a few rocks solid colors to form rock flowers, but I didn’t get around to it, so I made the flowers anyway. Now that I look at the rock flowers, I see they don’t need to be painted. They’re fine as they are. As the lilacs grow and take over the area, I might go ahead and paint the rocks to make them stand out more, but they are fine for now.

And then there is my lovely little gnome home, a gift from a neighbor. I’m hoping the figures are in a secluded enough spot that the winds will leave them alone, but I’ll keep my eye on the little guy and rescue him if necessary.

Now, of course, I’m worn out. Even though these were all relatively small rocks and pebbles — the largest about six or seven inches in diameter, the aggregate weight was more than I’ve lifted and carried for a couple of years. I’m surprised my knees held out, but they must have been as glad to see the garden take shape as the rest of me was.

Although I would have liked a real rock garden, my rocky garden will still be something to enjoy.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

The Internet Gives and Takes (And Takes)

The internet seems to have always been a give then take and take situation, and this state of affairs continues to do this day. For example, I just got a notice about upgrading my free email account to a paid version for the incredibly low price of $5.00. Free is cheaper, of course, but they have been adding so many more ads to the site that I’m sure people will be willing to pay the money to get rid of the annoyance factor. That email is the one I used to sign up for all my internet sites, and since it’s used primarily to get notifications from those sites, the ads aren’t a problem for me.

The email I use most has no ads — it comes with my website at no extra charge. I also get an email that might be ad-free from my internet provider, though I haven’t used that email yet, so I don’t really know. Previously, I never paid attention to such email services because I was moving around a lot and wasn’t interested in always having to change my address. Now that I’m in my “forever” home — well, not really forever because forever would last eons beyond my death, but you know what I mean — I could use the email since it would be as permanent as my residency in this house.

Still, I’m not sure I trust the company. They used to offer a singe charge for internet services no matter what the bandwidth. It was a variable number, sometime incredibly fast, sometimes incredibly slow, but they recently started offering a more expansive bandwidth service for a rather large increase in price. Which would be fine if they had actually increased the speed, but it looks as if what they did was divide out the variable bandwidth and are making people pay for the faster service. So now my internet is a bit slower, and if I want to get back to where it was, I have to pay more. It’s a good thing there is only me and that I don’t watch movies or listen to music on my computer or phone, so the bandwidth I have is fine for now. Until they decide to offer a midrange speed and slow my computer down again.

But, as I said, this has always been the case with any internet service. When I first signed up with Facebook, everyone who “liked” or “followed” my author page got all of my updates in their feed. Whether those people saw the updates or not was a different matter, but the updates were there. Then FB decided they weren’t making enough money, so they started charging for that service. Now, the only people who get occasional updates are those who regularly interact with the page. The other 1,549 people who follow my page will only see what I post if I pay FB to show my posts to them, and since FB refuses to let me post the link to this blog, I refuse to pay them. Even worse, because FB doesn’t like second hand links (I have to “reblog” my blog to another blog so I can post my blog by proxy) I’ve gone from the original 1000 views on FB to the pre-ban 100 views to the current 10. But the way I see it, anyone who wants to follow my blog can follow it directly. I just post a link on FB for those who asked me to.

WordPress is another of those sites that used to be ad-free for people who signed up, either to post a blog or to read blogs, but gradually the ads encroached there, too. I now pay a yearly fee to offer you an ad-free environment (except for my books, of course), but for that I also get a dedicated domain name. And unlike FB, they don’t charge me to send my blog to my followers.

My author website used to come with a free web builder, but they started charging for that, too. Somehow, because of their retiring my old website, I ended up with a less comprehensive builder at no charge (at least for now.) Come to think of it, with all the shenanigans going on, I better renew my website domain before the price of that goes up and becomes prohibitively expensive.

Despite all this, the internet is still a special place. Where else can I meet and communicate with people all over the world without leaving my chair?

***

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 Morning in the Sunshine

I pulled more weeds today and I discovered that the problem with weeds is not so much that they grow back, but that it’s a never-ending job. All I was going to do was pull the most unsightly. I figured that once I did that, the others wouldn’t look so bad. Well, that’s not the case. I cleared away a large patch of weeds, then stretched and looked around, thinking to congratulate myself for a job well done, but the place looked just as bad as before I started to work. Apparently, once the highest weeds are gone, the second highest, which seemed rather benign, now stand out, so the yard looks like I never touched it.

Isn’t that always the way? You think the house is clean, so you decide just to pick up the worst of the clutter. Then, with the clutter gone, you notice dust, so you have to dust the furniture and fixtures. Then, with the dust gone, you notice that the floors look a bit dingy in comparison. So then you have to clean the floors. Next thing you know, a job you thought would take a few minutes has taken all day. Even worse, you now notice every speck of dust, so you spend all your time from then on, spot cleaning because although you know your house is clean, you are so focused on the dust motes that you can’t see the truth.

That seems like a parable more suited to some mystical or psychological or sociological problem rather than weeds, but I’m so exhausted from all the time outside that I don’t feel up to finding the wisdom in this blog post. It’s enough for today that I spent time in my yard.

And I saw a parade. Today was supposed to be the annual town festival with booths, entertainment, and a parade, but it had to be canceled because from what I understand, a lot of kids in the high school tested positive for The Bob. Someone decided enough was enough and so privately sponsored the parade, which I think is cool, sort of a celebration and a protest all in one. There weren’t many entries, and most of those were police cars, pickup trucks, and farm vehicles. Not many people watched either, but it’s the effort that counts.

So, some weeds gone, a parade, and a morning in the sunshine. Sounds like a good day to me!

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

My Poor Trees

Last fall I planted three six-foot greengage plum trees that were advertised as orchard-size so they could potentially have blossoms the first year, but only one of them seems to be doing okay. The other two are still alive, though most of the branches are dry and brittle. The growth is coming from the bottom of the trees. It’s surprising to me that the tree that got the most moisture during the winter is the one that seems to be having the most trouble. It’s next to the sidewalk that extends from the house to the garage, so when I shoveled the snow, I dumped it around the base of the tree. That tree actually doesn’t matter so much — it was an extra tree I bought for a gift and then the giftee decided he didn’t want it because he was going to move, so I planted the extra tree in my yard. The only place to put it wasn’t a good location from my standpoint because if the tree ever grew fruit, the fruit would make a mess of my sidewalk. Still, it does show signs of life, so that’s something.

The other tree that’s not doing well is where I really wanted a tree, toward the back of the property. It too is showing signs of life, though also only toward the base. I’d purposely bought the biggest trees I thought I could handle because I didn’t want to go through those first six or seven years of growing a tree from the ground up, though it looks like that’s going to happen after all. Oh, well. I did everything I could, followed all the directions (which isn’t something I normally do — I have a terrible habit of just winging it), so there’s no use worrying about it.

I’ll just wait and see what happens. If necessary, I’ll try getting another tree, maybe a smaller one. Or not. I just checked the website, and they are sold out of all sizes.

Now, if the trees had been crossed with dandelions, I could have kept them alive. One of the few things I seem to be able to grow is dandelions.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

So Much Excitement

Yesterday I found, taped to my front door, a bright yellow paper with “Special Notice” blaring across the top. It turns out it was from the public works department stating they would be smoke testing its sewers. They went on to say that it was done periodically to locate sources of sewer odors, leaks, and breaks in sewer lines, but no one who has lived their whole life around here had ever experienced such a thing. If the sewers had been tested previously, apparently it wasn’t something they told people about.

The smoke is supposed to be harmless, but I was still worried about it coming out of my plumbing, as they warned it might. Since there was a three-day window for this “smoking” to be done, I wasn’t sure how to know the test was being done. Obviously, if I had a problem with my plumbing, I’d be able to smell the smoke, but if everything was fine, would I know when it was finished?

As it turns out, there wasn’t a problem. I was outside weeding when I noticed smoke coming out of a neighbor’s ventilation pipes and a couple of heavy pickup trucks with hard-hatted men driving up slowly up and down the alley. I went inside and to see if there were any signs of smoke and to hunt for strange odors. There seemed to be a bit of a smoke smell in the bathroom, but it was so faint, it was hard to tell if it was really there. And there was no smoke that I could see. I opened the windows to air out the place anyway, because “harmless” doesn’t always mean harmless. Still, it’s nice to know that my plumbing is in good shape.

As if that weren’t enough excitement, I went back outside after opening the windows to pull more weeds. (It seems that for every flower there are a hundred weeds, but it’s worth it to see those few colorful blooms.) Beneath a spreading bush, I found a few double tulips. They must have been planted when the bush was young to be hidden so. I’d noticed the tulip leaves the past couple of springs, but this is the first time they bloomed. What a lovely legacy!

I also hoed an area where I plan to plant some flower seeds. The seeds are old, so they might not do anything except feed the birds, but it’s worth a try. I was going to go ahead and plant the seeds today because the weather forecast calls for above freezing temperatures for the next ten days, but I decided to be safe and wait for the average “last frost” date, which isn’t for another week.

Besides, after all the concern with the sewer smoke and the effort at pulling weeds, I’d had enough excitement for one 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

Undead Husband Thrillers

There is a subgenre of thrillers where a woman’s husband dies and then later, sometimes years later, she finds out that he is still alive.

Sometimes the widow is convicted of killing her husband, and when she gets out of prison, she kills him for real. Sometimes the widow killed her husband, and the supposed “sighting” is a hoax to flush her out. Sometimes the husband faked his death. Sometimes it’s the wife and the children who are declared dead, and only later is the husband united with the children, but not the wife.

I think about these stories as I read them, and wonder how I would react if I found out Jeff hadn’t really died. It would be impossible, of course, because I was there when he took his last breath. I even waited a few minutes before I notified anyone. And, I was there when they shrouded his body with a white blanket, covered it with a red plush blanket, and took it out to the mortician’s SUV.

Still, I wonder. What if I hadn’t been there, and they took the body without waiting for me. What if all I had was an urn they said were his ashes? If I had seen him just a few months after his death, maybe even a year or two, I would have been ecstatic. Later, of course, I might have second thoughts as the sense of betrayal set in. If I had seen him five or so years later, my first reaction might be delight, but it would be followed immediately by fury. How dare he let me think he was dead; how dare he abandon me and subject me to years of grief! Still, I’d listen to his explanation, and if it was reasonable enough, I might forgive him, but I don’t think I’d be able to pick up our life where it left off.

Now, if I were to see him, it would be completely different. To be honest, I’m not sure I’d even recognize him. Eleven years is a long time. And if I did, I’m not sure how I’d react. It would seem a betrayal of him — and my grief — not to want him in my life again, but I’m not the same person I was all those years ago. And if he was willing to walk away from me, then he wouldn’t be the person I thought he was.

His story would have to be truly remarkable to get me to believe that he didn’t simply abandon me. What if he did it to save me? He had actually talked about driving away and leaving me when he got too sick; he didn’t want me to spend my life caring for an invalid, and he didn’t want to be cared for. I can see a scenario based on this — he drove off a cliff, survived and was found, though he had no memory. Perhaps the person who found him was able to heal him. And perhaps years later, he remembered who he was but couldn’t find me.

That’s not an unreasonable scenario — there’s no way he’d be able to track me to this town. I haven’t left much of a paper trail. And yet, I still have the same cell number, and he could find me with no trouble on the internet, so he’d be able to contact me. Maybe he found out via this blog that I’d found a modicum of contentment and he didn’t want to disturb my peace.

Come to think of it, this could be an interesting book. So many of the undead husband novels end up with the husband getting dead for real, disappearing again, and — in a very few cases — becoming reconciled with the abandoned wife. But no book that I know of hints at what the reconciled life would be. The only thing similar is one of those stories where a kidnapped child finds his/her way home years later to a not-happily-ever-after ending.

Maybe someday I’ll write the book, but I don’t really want to think about the story. And I won’t until the next time I pick up an undead husband thriller.

***

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

Lucky

Unlike most people, fallout from The Bob has left me largely untouched, so much so, that when people tell me about things like the problems in India, I have to stop and think, and then I remember. Oh, yeah — there’s a pandemic going on.

India is dealing with heavy death tolls. Other countries have stringent curfews to help prevent heavy death tolls. But here in my almost forgotten corner of Colorado, there have been a few deaths, some even, that have affected friends, but mostly, we’ve been spared a lot of the agony the rest of the world has experienced. Oddly, though, the last two months of 2019 saw an upsurge of a horrific and devastating illness being spread here in this county. Back then, The Bob hadn’t yet been identified in the United States, so people were told they had a bad case of the flu, though in retrospect, at least a couple of doctors changed their diagnoses. All the symptoms these people had matched The Bob symptoms, even to the severity, the aftereffects, the collateral problems and complications.

By the time the official restrictions in the state were put into place, I’d already been curtailing my activities to keep from getting that abysmal flu. Even though no curfew was ever in place here, I had my own curfew. (To be honest, it wasn’t disease related — I generally save my wanderings, such as they are, for daylight hours.)

So basically, I’ve just lived my life as if there were no dread disease floating around. I do wear a mask when I’m in stores or at the library, and I probably would wear it elsewhere if I were ever around groups of people, but for the most part, I only have contact with a couple of people.

Because of this, because of the prevalence of the vaccine, because the library is open, and because I am boycotting the news, I hadn’t given much recent thought to The Bob. I guess since it hadn’t really affected me, I more or less figured that it was pretty much under control around here, but apparently it’s still rampant. This coming week there was supposed to be a town fair and celebration, but it has now been cancelled because of an upsurge in the number of Bob cases in the schools.

I hope you know I’m not making light of anyone’s problems that stemmed from The Bob. I’m aware that a lot of people have been affected in disastrous ways, and I am truly sorry for that. At some point, I might even be one of those people; the longer this goes on, the greater the chance of being affected in some way, and not just because a local festival and parade has been cancelled.

So far I’ve been lucky. Lucky that I haven’t gotten sick — with anything! (Amazing how staying away from people keeps one away from all sorts of contagious diseases.) Lucky that I can do so well without a lot of contact with people. And lucky, too, that a lot of what contact I have is via this blog — I can talk about what’s on my mind, and though it’s often a one-sided conversation, it serves its purpose of making me feel connected to the rest of the world.

***

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

Memory and Habit

It seems as if I spent an inordinate amount of time looking for things, not just photos (as I mentioned yesterday), but physical items. The latest thing I’ve been searching for is a wrought iron hook for hanging plants that had been attached to the ramp when I moved here. I took it off when I painted the ramp and then forgot all about it. I found it again last year when I was putting things away in my new garage, and I placed it . . . somewhere. I remember putting it where I would intuitively look for it, but it has disappeared, so either my intuition isn’t working, I accidentally threw it away, or it’s in hiding. It’s not a major issue except for the time I spent looking for it because I’m probably going to order a new one to match the two I put up last year. And anyway, the time I spent looking wasn’t really wasted because as I looked, I was able to rearrange and clean the part of the garage where my contractor had stored supplies, unused building materials, and some of the tools he’d been using.

But it irritates me all the same. I used to pride myself on my memory, but episodes like this tell me it’s no longer a source of pride. I’m just grateful I can still remember most of what I want to remember!

It’s also frustrating to misplace small things like that hook because in recent years I’ve gotten in the habit of putting things away in the same place I got them from so that they are always where I can find them. Before that, I wasn’t particularly careful — messes didn’t bother me, and if they did, I’d simply immerse myself in reading and voila! No mess. It’s sort of like that old conundrum: “if a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear, does it make a sound?” In my case, though, it was more a matter of “if your house is messy and you don’t see it, is it really messy?”

I shouldn’t feel too badly about the hook; after all, it wasn’t something I used and then didn’t put back in the right place. There was no right place. It was a one-time deal.

It is a reminder, though, that when one’s memory doesn’t work as well as it once did, then habit becomes especially important.

***

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