My Exciting Life

I had a rare treat today. My body got me up at 5:00 a.m. as usual, and as usual, I went back to bed. And surprise! I actually went back to sleep and didn’t wake up again until 7:00. As much as I like not dragging my tired body through the day, the restfulness came with a price — two hours less in the day.

So here I am, scrambling to find something quick to write about for today’s blog post before I head out to work. I mean, head out to my job. I’ve already been working. I spent the past three hours outside getting caught up on gardening chores — weeding, watering, planting, transplanting. And oh, my. I hurt from top to bottom!

It’s funny — I keep telling people in another few years I’m going to have a fabulous yard, but the truth is, I have a fabulous yard this year. Admittedly, in a few years the lilac bushes will grow to maturity, offering me a few more nooks and crannies in my yard to give me an excuse to wander around and see what’s there (instead of being able to see everything at a glance, that is). And more perennials will take hold, as well as the last few wild places filled in. The raised garden is still just an idea built on top of a long rectangular hole in the ground, and as much as I’d like to see the finished project, I have enough to keep me active. I certainly don’t need another forty-square-feet of garden to take care of right now. One day, however, I will be glad of a new garden spot.

Just not today.

I’m glad I’ll be going outside again — I’ll be walking the couple of blocks to my job — because in all the working this morning, I forgot to enjoy the perfect day. No high winds, just a bit of a breeze to temper the heat of the sun, and blue skies.

Well, thanks for reading. I’ll be back again tomorrow for more news about my oh, so exciting life!

***

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.

A Day Off

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a day off, not just from work but from . . . everything.

Having a day off from work is common now that my hours have been cut way back, but at this time of year, there’s always something to do outside: watering, mowing, weeding. planting. It got very cold last night, almost down to freezing, and it rained for quite a while, so today was not only too cold but also too sodden to do any outside tasks. Feeling a bit lost, I exercised a bit, played around on the computer, did the daily Wordle and Quordle, read a book, ate a meal, caught up on my gardening journal, dealt with my out-of-the-country friend’s mail. And that was all before noon.

I did go outside and wander around the yard checking to make sure there were no lingering effects from the cold. The only problem I found was me — I’d already become used to the heat, so the day felt much colder than it was. I considered taking an actual walk, but the rain started spitting again, so I came back inside.

And now here I am, writing my 971st straight blog post. (I’ve posted a total of 3,446 so far, but now and again I took a break from daily writing, so this current tally of 971 is just my latest spate of blogging every day

Tomorrow will be a lot warmer, but will still be too damp to do much of anything except weed. There’s always weeding to do, and with this rain, there will be a whole lot of weeds popping up.

On a completely different topic, I finally got my master brake cylinder replaced. Although the brakes work great, the warning light still comes on. It could be a problem with the sensor. It could be that it takes a while for the sensor to catch up with the new brake system. Or it could be . . . I don’t know. I’m going to try not to worry about it. I’d much rather the warning light came on when there is no problem because it reminds me to be careful, than for it not to come on when there is a problem. (Seven years or so ago when I was dealing with a crooked mechanic’s crooked employees, someone had cut my rear brakes and plugged the hole in the brake fluid reservoir, so although I (unknowingly) was driving without rear brakes — which caused me to have an accident — the brake warning light never came on to warn me of a problem.)

I’m not going anywhere anyway. I can get most of what I need right here in town, and I hitch a ride with a friend when she goes to the “big city,” our humorous appellation for a nearby town with a few more stores than this one. And, of course, there is the possibility of ordering online.

Besides, why would I want to go anywhere? I’m already where I want to be, even with — especially with — a day off.

***

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.

Passively Active

I was busy doing yardwork before I went to work today, and I will be busy again when I get home, but this close to the 1000th day of daily blogging, I’m not about to fall on my sword and break my streak. (I am less than two months away from meeting my goal.) I was wondering how to accomplish my blogging task for the day, when I remembered I could send in my blog by email.

It has been years since I blogged by email. I think the last time I did so was on my cross-country road trip in 2016, so I hope I am doing it correctly. If not, well, I’ll figure out another way of posting something today.

By the way I talk (or rather, by the way I write) you’d think I lead an active life, when the truth is, most of what I do is passive. Reading is passive. Blogging is passive. Watering is basically passive. I stand with a hose in my hand and let the water pressure do the work, or I set the hose in the front yard, then set the hose in the back, then amble to the front again and move that hose, then back to the back yard. Lots ambling back and forth! Visiting with neighbors is also passive. I stand there watering, and they stop to chat. (A lovely break from listening to my own thoughts, especially when the conversation is accompanied by compliments. One neighbor loves my tulips, another says my grass is looking good, a third said I looked good and wondered if I’d been going to a spa, though I don’t know of any spa around here.) My job is mostly passive, too, except when it’s not.

One of these days, perhaps when the wind dies down (if it ever does), I’ll stop being so passively active and become actively active. Weeds and crabgrass are sprouting up and growing like … well, like weeds. But for now, I’m just glad I am able to keep my grass and other plants alive. A few spindly lilacs didn’t make it through the winter, but most are doing well. Some of the lilacs I transplanted from a neighbor’s yard (with his permission, of course) look as if they might have flowers this year. My newly planted plum trees seem to be leafing out, the larkspur is taking over some garden spots, and a few more bulbs have made an appearance. (If all goes well when I send this post by mail, a photo of my hyacinth should be attached.)

All that growth adds to the illusion of my being active, when in fact I passively wait for the plants to do whatever it is that they do.

***

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

Elasticity of Time

The older I grow, the more elastic time seems to get. Whatever needs to be done can barely be fit into the time allotted before and after work. You’d think then, that days like today, when I go in a little later, that I would have an extra couple of hours to get things done, but it doesn’t work that way. Here I am, struggling to get a blog written, a meal fixed and eaten, and myself dressed before work as I always do.

So what happened to those extra two hours? Lost in the elasticity of time, obviously.

I tend to think of elasticity as something that only stretches, such as rubber band, but it seems to be also something that shrinks. Otherwise, I’d have plenty of time to do . . . whatever.

I suppose I should be grateful — and I am — for the discretionary time I do have. Things could be worse (they always can be, even for those of us who like to think things can always be better). Time could simply shrink all the time and never stretch back to what it was. Though some days, it feels like it only shrinks.

As I’m sure you can tell, this is one of those semi-nonsensical fill blogs, where I have nothing to say (and little time to say it), but since I’m on day 932 of a 1,000-day blog challenge, I need to post something. Not that I will stop blogging every day once I meet that goal, you understand, it’s just that having a goal keeps me going. I need the discipline of blogging every day. Just as posts like this are place holders for my more thoughtful essays, the blog itself is a placeholder for my novel writing since the habit writing something every day is good practice for that, too. When I am re-retired, I will get back to writing books, but meantime, here I am, trying to stretch time by cooking and writing at the same time, and not succeeding very well. (Burnt the bacon and splattered myself. Ouch!)

Still, time has stretched enough to get everything done. I might even make it to work on 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.

Things I Don’t Want to Write About

I’m sitting here mentally sifting through possible blog topics to expound on for today’s posts, but there’s so much I don’t want to write about, I’ve already written about, or don’t know enough to write about and don’t care to delve deeper into the matter.

I don’t want to write about is the advertisement that appears on top of the page when I have opened a document in Word. I bought the program, so I shouldn’t have to deal with further encroachments from Microsoft, but as discreet as the ad is, it still appears and there’s nothing much I can do about it. Well, I can click on the X to remove it, but it appears again the next time I open Word. So, there’s no real point in talking about something I have no control over.

I also don’t want to write about the “nothings” that are exchanged with a spouse. I had lunch with a friend yesterday (she brought a picnic to my house, which was a real treat) and we got to talking about all the nothings we say to a spouse in passing. Her example was walking by her husband when he was watching the news, catching what someone was saying, and commenting, “Oh, she’s such a liar,” as she passed on by. These nothings aren’t anything you can really call and talk to a friend about when you live alone because then the nothings become a something. You’d have to explain the situation, explain why you think the person is a liar, explain why you’re telling your friend, and a passing comment becomes a huge discussion that quickly gets out of control. It’s an interesting topic, these nothings, but I’ve already written about it, already written about talking to the photo of Jeff, just asides — the nothings — as I make the bed when I get up in the morning or unmake it when I get ready for bed at night.

I still don’t want to write about The Bob. Despite everyone thinking they know what is going on because of whatever “research” they have done, so often the research is at odds with what people experience. I know people who got the jab and then died of The Bob, but that sort of thing is shoved under the carpet because it doesn’t fit the narrative. I suppose The Bob has been around long enough that the truth might be out there somewhere, but this is an example of something I don’t care to delve deeper into. Nor does it matter. Whatever truth I would find (assuming there is such a thing) wouldn’t change anything, and since it wouldn’t make any difference, I just let it go.

Something else I really don’t want to write about, at least not in a whole post, are all the death dates in my head. Or that were in my head. A couple of blog readers are coming up on the anniversary of their spouse’s deaths, and I remember the dates, but soon those dates will be gone from my memory, which is good. Otherwise, practically every single day I’d be reminded of someone who lost a child or a spouse, and it’s too much for one person to handle. It’s enough for me to remember my own dates (Jeff, parents, brothers) without heaping other people’s sorrow on top of my own. Though, to be honest, I do remember everyone I’ve spoken or written to about their grief over the death of their loved one, just not the exact day of their loss.

Well, what do you know! It turns out that I ended up writing about all the things I didn’t want to write about after all. Just goes to show . . . hmm. I don’t know what it shows other than that I have something to post for today’s blog.

***

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

Tomorrow and Tomorrow

Because of various Bob-related issues around town, I haven’t been working much lately, which has been nice. I like having my time to myself to do what I wish (and even what I don’t wish but need to get done).

Sometime during the next couple of weeks, things should settle down enough that we (my fellow caregiver and our client) can get back to our regular schedule, which will also be nice because the extra company is good for me and the extra money helps pay for a few frivolities, such as groceries and grass (the lawn kind, not the erstwhile illegal kind). Still, I’m okay with whatever might happen. Over the past decade or so, I’ve learned to be resilient enough to take whatever comes my way, though I do reserve the right to whine a bit if I feel it.

In two weeks and a day, we start a new year. I’ve never been particularly excited about a new year since basically all it means is a clean calendar and learning to put a different year on the few checks I write. Even worse, we carry our old selves into the new year, so despite all our resolutions (or lack of resolutions), the old year folds into the new one without a hitch. For some reason, though, perhaps because of uncertainties The Bob is still causing, I am looking forward to this new year with a bit of hope, as if it is actually something new.

For sure, it’s a new month, one that will bring me closer to spring and spring flowers to brighten my day. It will also bring me closer to another “elder” birthday, but that’s not a problem. The actual number of years don’t matter, of course, though what all those years have done to me does. I can still do almost everything I want to, but I am slower, and I find myself tilting forward when I stand or walk. It takes a concerted effort to remember to roll my shoulders back and stand up straight, but I can still do that, which is good. (In his old age, my father tilted forward when he walked, too, and I always wondered why. Perhaps our sense of equilibrium goes out of whack like so much else.)

The other thing that the new year will bring is an end to my 100-day blogging challenge, though that won’t be the end of the daily blogging. Although sometimes it’s hard to come up with something to say, it’s still a good exercise for me, so I will continue at least until I reach the 1000-day mark. (183 more days.) Or not. Life itself is a continual challenge, and we never quite know what each day will bring, but if everything goes as planned, I’ll be here every day until the middle of June.

Meantime, there’s the rest of today to enjoy, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.

***

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.

Books and Blogs

I seem to be doing my blogging later and later as time goes on. Unfortunately, inspiration is hard to come by when one spends most of one’s time alone. And then there is the matter of laziness, perhaps, or simply a tendency toward procrastination. Either way, here I am with my lights on since it’s dark outside, trying to think of something interesting to say. One of these days, I will give in to the temptation to let a day or two slide, but for now, I’ve committed to daily blogging for the rest of the year.

Just about the only thing I’ve been thinking about (other than that it will be another six months before I can get back into gardening) is the awful book I just finished reading. I could have put it aside at any time, of course, but then the uneasiness fostered by the story would have lingered much longer than it would by finishing it. Normally I don’t read contemporary women’s lit, but I needed a break from my usual diet of murder and suspense, which is a mistake I won’t be making again soon.

There seem to be two types of books that are targeted specifically for women — happily-ever-after stories (romances that tell the beginning of a relationship), and unhappily-ever-after stories, (novels that tell what happens to the loving couple after many years of being together).

This particular book was of the second variety. The main theme was about communication; none of the characters every told their partner what they were thinking. They expected the other person to know what was going on in their minds without their having to say a single word, and each character interpreted their partner’s actions in light of their own insecurities rather than the partner’s.

Even worse, the novel told three very loosely connected stories. The only connecting element was a house that none of them end up with; otherwise, the three stories had nothing to do with one another. Worst of all, there was nothing in any of the stories to offset the growing sense of dread and dreariness as the couples all drifted further apart. Just misunderstanding built on misunderstanding built on misunderstanding.

Simple discussions at the beginning of the book would have swept away all those misunderstandings. But then, there would have been no book for me to suffer through. Nor would I have had anything to write about today.

One of the stories was about a couple who were divorced from their original partners, and who ended up getting married. Since each had children from the prior marriage, and each child brought their own insecurities to the new home, dread was piled on dread. Some of that dread, I am sure, has to do with my own situation. I am at the age where, if I ever ended up in another relationship, it would be complicated by his children and grandchildren and perhaps even a great-grandbaby or two. (Unless, of course, he’s the type to eschew all family, in which case he wouldn’t be worth having.) The mere thought of having to sort out and find a way to combine the baggage of two lifetimes wearies me.

Luckily, I have no interest in another relationship. I have a house (and this blog), and that’s about as much responsibility as I want in my life.

***

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 Last 100 Days of the Year

100Tomorrow begins the last one hundred days of the year. What are you going to do with those days? Will you finally get around to the New Year’s resolutions you made and promptly forgot? Are you going to plant the tulips you’ve always wanted? Are you going to do that house repair project you’ve been putting off? Or instead, are you going to give up and find a new place to live? Are you going to ease up on yourself and take a break from the breakneck speed of your life? Are you going to push yourself to get a better job? Are you going to get going on that novel you wanted to start, continue, finish, or edit? Are you going to make inroads in the pile of books on your nightstand, or finally read some of those ebooks you downloaded? Are you going attempt the photography project you’ve been thinking about? Are you going to make a commitment to blog every day?

That’s what I’m going to do — make a commitment to blog every day. I’ve been blogging every day for the past 730 days, and I intend to extend that commitment to the end of the year. Feel free to join me! We can help each other, offering encouragement or topics when the will begins to wane. And the will does wane. When I was grieving, it was easier to come up with topics than it is now when I am in a more comfortable situation. It’s hard to find lessons in being at peace. I suppose peace is a lesson in itself, but what can you say beyond that you’re at peace?

I read once that reading and writing go hand in hand because reading is inhaling and writing is exhaling. (That’s how I always felt about reading, as if it were a type of breathing.) Keeping up with this blog is how I am exhaling, though I’m not sure what I am actually exhaling. I have little to say, no real inclination to say what I do have to say, and no wisdom (at least not that I can discern) with which to say it, but still, I do manage to find something to write about each day. My sincere apologies for the more mindless posts and my eternal gratitude to everyone who reads anything I write. A special thank you to those who comment, and a heartfelt appreciation for the thought-provoking responses. It’s always good to have more thoughts in my head than simply those I put there.

This has been mostly a good year for me, so it’s not as though I’m counting down to the end of the year in order to get rid of this one. It’s more about making this year count, or at least making the last 100 days count, rather than simply counting the days.

So, what about you? How are you going to make the final days of this year count?

***

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 Momentous Day

I came online a couple of times today to write my daily blog, but each time, I just wandered around a few sites and then wandered off again.

I suppose the problem is that I couldn’t find my focus. It’s not as if nothing momentous happened today because even on a day when nothing special happens, something special happens. For example: today I awoke. I breathed. I moved around. I watered my bulbs and bushes and trees. I pulled weeds. I read a book. Each of those moments was special in its own right. After all, not everyone woke this morning, and of those who did, not everyone breathed easily or was able to move around. Not everyone has a plot of land to call their own. And not everyone is blessed with the ability to sink into a book and breathe in the story.

As if that weren’t enough enjoyment for one day, I also chatted with a neighbor for a few minutes. And I was gifted with a miniature gnome and gnome house for my yard.

So a lot of good moments, just no focus for writing about those things. Though, by the very fact of writing these words, I am belying my own premise for obviously I did find my focus.

I suppose I should add “writing a blog” to my list of special accomplishments today. Although many people blog daily, many others don’t write anything at all except an occasion comment on Facebook or some such.

Does this post have a point? Probably not. I’m just fulfilling my self-styled challenge to blog every day. Though on rereading what I wrote, I suppose the point could be about appreciating the ordinary moments of life. Very few of us ever get a momentous winning-the-lottery sort of day. But we can have a momentous day in a common, subtler sort of way.

Or something like that.

***

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

The Current State of This Blog

Apparently, Facebook isn’t the only entity that thinks my blog is spam. A couple of days ago, a friend called make sure I’m okay because she hasn’t been getting my blog via email, and she worried that something had happened to me. I told her I was fine and that I was still blogging every day (even though I don’t always have something to say) and suggested she check her spam folder.

Sure enough, the last four blogs had been classified by her email provider as spam.

I think I know what the problem is — the brief bio at the bottom of every post. Even though it is just a small fraction of the post itself, apparently the spam-eating bots have been picking up on the duplication. (One message from FB mentioned that repetition was considered spam, which corroborates this surmise.)

I never used to put anything at the bottom of my posts because it seemed redundant — after all, all the information about me and my books are on sidebars and pages — but some sites illegally repost blogs without attribution, and I used to find various of my articles on those sites. (I’m sure such sites are still around, though I’ve stopped looking.) Since there’s often nothing that can be done about the theft, one suggestion I came across to counteract the attack was to make sure every blog had a bio and links so that if anyone came across the blog on other sites, it would refer back to me.

I’m glad I got in the habit — phone apps for the various blog platforms generally don’t allow for sidebars, so no one who reads my blog via their phone would see who I am and what other things I write without the bio. It’s not a problem for regular readers since they know who I am, but many new people find me via search engines (most often for questions about grief) and I want them to know about my grief book.

I could, of course, do a new bio every day if the bio really is the problem, but then I probably wouldn’t post something every day, either, because it would be too much extra work. I could also do several different bios and rotate so that the repetition comes once a week rather than every day, but my stubborn nature won’t let me be accommodating (though I did remove the link to my website, in case the links were the culprit).

And anyway, the bio itself might not be the problem. If it is, I’m grateful — it was the impetus to get me off Facebook, at least for now, and I must admit, I’m much happier living in my own little world without the contention and opinionation and strife that comes with the FB territory.

So, since I’m maintaining the current state of this blog, if you generally get my posts via email and you happen to notice that I have disappeared, please check your spam folder. I’m probably there.

***

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