Unplanned Joys

Today was a day of unplanned joys. You can’t plan such a day. Well, you can I suppose, but too many things have to come together, and some of those things — such as the weather — can’t be counted on. But today, the weather was perfect. Truly a joy.

Despite the lovely weather, I wanted a change from my typical morning of weeding. Not that the weeds were all gone — they’re not, and may never be gone, though come winter, they should go dormant along with almost everything else. But I needed to do something different, so I decided to clean my house. There was only a thin veneer of dust, but once that veneer was gone, it became apparent just how dingy the floors and furniture had become. But now, what a joy! Everything sparkles like new, or as new as a 94-year-old house can be.

Still charged with energy, I took a brief walk — also unplanned until the very minute I put on my walking shoes and headed out the door. When I came back, a friend came to visit. Admittedly, the visit had been planned. Because of her health issues, I hadn’t seen her for a long time, and we needed to catch up. We sat out in my gazebo, enjoying each other’s company, the lovely day, and the cool breeze. It was great seeing her, and even greater seeing how well she’s doing. (That part was one of the unplanned joys since I had no idea what to expect.)

After she left, I took a brief break for lunch, and then I got a text from another friend who wanted to know if this was a good time to visit. She and the woman she looked after had been wanting to come see my yard and try out my gazebo, but the weather has been a problem — too windy or too hot or too rainy. Well, today was none of those things, and so they finally were able to come.

I enjoyed showing off my yard and flowers, trying (but not succeeding) to disregard the areas of dead grass. I know I’ve said I won’t let those brown spots bother me, but it’s hard not to notice the dullness in comparison with the bright emerald green of the healthy areas. Luckily, my friends only looked at what was there, not what wasn’t.

Before they left, I showed them around my house. Which makes me wonder — did cleaning the house today somehow put all these unplanned joys into effect? Or was it merely a happy chance that today of all days, I felt like cleaning? Not that it matters — it just felt good to know the house looked its best.

And now, here I am, visiting with you. That, too, is a joy, though a planned one.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.

Strife, Strife, and More Strife

This is one of those perfect days: clear blue skies, bright sun, light-jacket temperatures, still air. Admittedly, there are a lot of such days throughout the year, but there’s something even more perfect about such a day appearing between two glacial fronts. You delight in the warmth when coming out of a cold spell, and you make a special effort to enjoy the day when more cold weather is on the way. (Tomorrow will another warm day, but desperate winds will be blowing in a new storm that will drop the temperature more than 60 degrees tomorrow night.)

In memory of the cold weather we just had and in preparation for the cold to come, I am making chili, which also adds to the perfection of the day. I like to cook but I don’t often feel like making big batches of anything, so there will be enough to last a while. Also, this is Jeff’s chili recipe. It took me almost a year after he died before I could make it (even the thought of the meals we shared made me sick to my stomach). It’s been two years since the last I made his chili, though I don’t really know why except that I haven’t been cooking much of anything that takes an effort.

I have also the windows open to air out the place. It never smells musty, which is interesting for such an old house, but the air coming in makes the house smell sweet and clean.

Considering the perfection of the day, it’s odd that my two-card tarot today was all about strife. The first card, the five of wands is about violent strife and contest, boldness, and rashness. The second card, which is supposed to temper the first card, is The Emperor, which in this deck is about war, strife, war, conquest, and ambition.

Admittedly, my question “what do I need to know today” is so vague the response is not necessarily about me, so although I am planning on taking care of myself and keeping calm so there’s no strife in my life today, I can’t do anything about what is going on in the rest of the world — strife, strife, and more strife. I’m not sure why I need to know this, but I do know it anyway. Even if I didn’t want to know (which I don’t) it’s hard not to learn of such things.

I suppose it’s possible the tarot is telling me to enjoy my strifeless time as I do the interval between two winter storms, because like it or not, there will always be strife.

***

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.