Epic Enough

I just came back from a mile and a half walk, and I’m as wiped out — or worse — than when I was regularly hiking five miles with a twenty-pound pack. I’m thrilled to be able to walk even that much — knees take forever to heal, and I thought it might be several more months before I walk that far — but it’s not exactly an epic hike.

Actually, that once-upon-a-time dream of through-hiking one of the long epic trails died with my backpacking trip and the realization that I would never be able to carry all that I needed, especially the necessary water in the desert areas. Even if I could ever get back into hiking shape, the house precludes such a journey. Well, the garage does — I spent all my travel money on the garage. And to be honest, although I do still like the idea of being out in the middle of nowhere, I like even better the idea of being in the middle of somewhere — that somewhere being my house, of course.

Now, if I could teleport, that would be a different matter. I recently read a book about a fellow who could teleport, and he could go anywhere as long as it was a place he knew. At first I thought it would be a silly talent because why teleport to somewhere you’ve already been? But then it dawned on me — what a great way to do a long hike! Hike as long as you can, carrying a light day pack with a day’s worth of water and food, as well as extra socks and other emergency supplies, then when you’re finished for the day, you spend a few minutes memorizing the place you ended up, and then go home for the night. After a good meal and a peaceful night at home, you teleport to where you left off and continue hiking.

If you decide you want a night in the wilderness, all you’d have to do is hop home, pick up whatever you need for the night, and then hop back to where you were.

In many ways, this would negate one purpose of doing a through hike on a long trail since you wouldn’t get the life-changing experience of being on your own in the wilderness with no hope of getting out except on your own two feet, but it would answer the even greater purpose of seeing what’s around the next corner.

Not being able to hike, not being able to teleport, before I went for my walk, I poked around the corners of my yard and found this little beauty.

That’s epic enough for me!


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

Moving Along

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

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

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

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

And then . . . Ta dum!

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

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

So, now I’m exhausted.

Time to rest.

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


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


Reasons For Gratitude

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Elderly Knee

Ten years ago when Jeff died, I was in the middle of middle age, and suddenly, according the statistics being bandied about because of this current health crisis, I am “elderly.” I’m not sure how that happened, but the truth is . . . hmmm. I don’t know what the truth is. Maybe that I am older than I think I am. Or maybe I really am old enough to be at risk.

I saw a post on Facebook the other day that said you know you’re old when all your injuries are a result of sleeping weird, and that sure hit home. A few days ago, I went to sleep feeling great with all parts working, and I woke with a knee so out of whack and I could barely walk. Then a wrong step a couple of nights ago made it worse. Though the knee is marginally better today, for which I am grateful, I am using my Pacerpoles as if they were canes to keep the weight off that knee as much as possible.

It makes me feel sad for those poor demoted hiking poles. As recent as eighteen months ago, they helped me to maneuver cliffside trails, trek through overgrown forest paths, descend scree-laden desert tracks.

Now the poles only serve to get me from room to room, and they don’t even do much of that. Mostly, I stay in one room. The daybed seems a bit easier to navigate with a bum knee since it has rails that I can use to pull myself up, and it’s a bit higher than my normal bed, so it puts less strain on my knee when I stand up.

Apparently, not only am I in the “stay at home or else” group, I’m also in the “stay in one room” group. Perhaps even the “stay in bed” group.

Sounds elderly to me.

Luckily, I have books so I don’t need to go anywhere even if I could. I should start my car to keep the gas circulated and the battery active, but the thought of having to uncover the vehicle and try to sidle into the seat without stress on the knee is too much for me to even contemplate.

And I have food. I had a few leftover tea cakes I’d made for the open house to celebrate my one-year anniversary of home ownership. I’ve been doing a good job of staying away from such treats, so I’d forgotten I had them. (Before my knee decided to go wonky on me, I’d given up deserts in an effort to lose weight to protect my knees, but my body seems to be more interested in protecting my weight than my knees.) I decided if I was going to die from a novel disease, I didn’t want to die with cake in my freezer. How sad would that be! So I ate it. And I made a stir fry with odds and ends in my refrigerator. As you can see, I’m doing fine on the food front.

Well, I’ve been sitting long enough. I better go rest my knee.

My poor elderly knee.


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.