More Concrete

I recently got a bill for my car insurance along with a letter. The company was all puffed up with their magnanimity because — as they said in the letter — people were driving less, saving them billions of dollars, so were giving the money back to their customers via discounts. Sounds great, right? And sure enough, the bill did show a discount of $30. But a quick perusal of my previous bill showed that they had raised my rates by $40 for a net increase of $10. If rates are based on the company’s costs and payouts, and if people were in fact driving less and hence getting in fewer accidents and costing the company less, how could my base insurance have gone up? Sounds arbitrary to me, and just another of the many ways big companies look out for us and thank us for our patronage.

On a less cynical note, the workers finally were able to get the jackhammer to tear up my old sidewalk in preparation for building a new one without bumps and cracks for me to trip over. (Now these people really do look out for me, paying attention to things that might be hazardous around here for me as I get older, and they don’t brag about their magnanimity, either.)

They’re planning on coming back this afternoon to remove the concrete so that tomorrow they will be able to start building the framework for the new sidewalk and stoop, which brings me closer to being able to use the back door. I am so looking forward to not tracking mud into the house! I’d be tracking in some anyway, but I have an area set up in the enclosed porch by the back door for a mud “room” to help keep from tracking the dirt into the rest of the house. (I remove my shoes when I come inside no matter what door I use, but the bigger mats in the back collect more dirt than the smaller ones in front.)

The guys were worried about me inadvertently walking out the back door and damaging myself on the river of broken concrete, but I assured them I am long out of the habit of using that door. (The step is way too steep for my still-healing knee.) Too bad the broken concrete is so dangerous and impractical, because it has a rather appealing artistry to it.

Still, practicality is more important than artistry, and a new sidewalk will be wonderful. It will certainly be more of a boon than any fake discount, and more concrete.

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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

Okay News and Good News

No workers today. Apparently, the people who had rented the jackhammer before us haven’t yet bothered to return it so the contractor couldn’t come to start ripping up the old concrete in preparation for redoing the stoop and putting in a ramp from the house to the garage. It’s not bad news; In fact, it’s okay. Everything will get done eventually. It was the garage that mostly concerned me. With hail a factor around here, I wanted to make sure my car was protected. The only hail we’ve had so far was pea size, but it’s nice to know I don’t have to worry, especially on days like yesterday when we were under a severe thunderstorm watch. The storm never got this far, but along the front range, they were seeing hail as big as a handful of snow. Even if the storm had hit us, my car was covered.

The good news is that so far, the vinca I planted yesterday is still alive and seems to be thriving, though after only a day, it’s hard to tell.

As I wrote the previous sentence, it occurred to me the good news is more that I am alive and seem to be thriving. Plants come and go — well, so do people, as I well know — but for now, we are both here, the plants and I. It’s been a long time coming, this contentment, but apparently, after so many years, even the absence of those who are gone loses some of its sting.

I had an odd thought today. I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to project myself into the future to prepare for my old age (because if I don’t make those preparations and do them now, no one will be around to take care of them, not even me because I will be too old). I worried that by thinking so much of being elderly, I was putting myself there prematurely. Luckily, the thought passed. I imagine that once I don’t have to think about fixing up the place to accommodate an older me, then I will slide back into being just . . . me.

Although the infrastructure of the yard, such as the pathways to give me an even footing and the inclined walkway instead of steps, will always remain, it’s possible that after I get the yard and garden looking lush and pretty, it will end up scraggly as I lose the interest and strength to keep it up, but that isn’t something I want to worry about. I’m planting bushes and other things that can generally take care of themselves once they’ve been given a good start. And if I can’t afford to hire someone to take care of the yard in that far off day, I can sit and dream of more verdant times.

Or not. It’s entirely possible I’ll be able to garden until the end. Some people do, why not me?

But that’s for the future. Today, I am able to do what I need to do. Today I worked outside for a bit, picking weeds and watering my plants. Today I’m grateful for what I have. Sounds like good news to me!

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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

Bone Deep

As I’ve been updating my house, I’ve been updating this blog with all the weird (or potentially weird) things we’ve found, thinking these bits will eventually find themselves in a book.

First, there was The Dark Underbelly of Home Ownership, a post about my creepy basement, an all too trite scene for a murder mystery. Next, when the floor of the enclosed porch was taken up in preparation for putting in a new foundation, we found an old cistern that seemed to be perfect counterpart to the basement. Then, there was Something Nasty in the Wooden Shed, which turned out to be not that nasty, but it could have been.

About that same time, I found a bit of fabric in the dirt, but it wouldn’t give when I tried to pick it up. So I got out my shovel and dug. And dug. And dug. Finally, I got the thing out of the ground. It turned out to be a red-stained shirt. Although the stain wasn’t blood, and perhaps it wasn’t even a stain but part of the design of the shirt, it still seemed mysterious to me that someone would bury the shirt.

The oddities stopped for a while, though when the contractor was trying to figure out why the garage floor had a huge crack in it, he thumped on the floor and it sounded hollow. I had to laugh at myself and my reflexive “maybe someone is buried under there,” Because of course, it was just my brain delighting in the macabre.

Well today, finally, they came with a jackhammer to break up that old concrete floor.

Under the floor, they found another concrete floor.

And under that . . . bones. Just two of them, but still — bones!

This mystery seems to be writing itself, which is actually is a good thing since I am not writing anything at all.

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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.