Remembering

It’s amazing to me that after seventy-six straight days of blogging, I can forget to blog. I didn’t actually forget because here I am, and it’s not quite the end of the day. The truth is, I am here only because I happened to catch a glimpse of my note reminding me to blog. I’ll probably have to start leaving myself a note reminding me to remember to look at the note reminding me to blog.

Not that it’s important — I’m sure you wouldn’t mind a day off from my mental meanderings — it’s just that I challenged myself to write a blog every day for one hundred days, and it’s the one challenge I’ve ever managed to complete. (This is the second time I’ve done this — the last time, once the hundred days were finished, I kept going for four years!) It seemed like a good idea back then, but right now? Not so much. I’m too tired to make sense of this day.

I spent most of the morning and afternoon baking, and now my freezer is filled with cookies, not just those I made today, but those I made a couple of weeks ago.

It’s strange to be doing all this baking. I don’t usually keep things like flour and sugar on hand because I try (not very successfully) to stay away from both wheat and sugar, and if I have treats on hand, I eat them. I don’t know where this urge to bake has come from. Maybe it has to do with having my own grown-up Suzy Homemaker kitchen. Maybe it’s because I’m remembering my mother, which I have often done ever since I got this house. I’ve been especially interested in making the cookies she used to make at this time of year, like Cherry winks and date nut pinwheels.

I’ve been remembering my father, too. Some friends invited me to a VFW Auxiliary dinner this evening, with the hopes that I would join the organization. My father’s Navy service in World War II would make me eligible . . . maybe. He didn’t serve in a foreign country, unless the Bermuda triangle can be considered such — he was one of those tasked with trying to track down the planes that disappeared in that area. More than that, he was a great one for making notes to help him remember, so every time I make a note, I remember him.

Now that I think about it, I’ve been remembering all my dead — not just Jeff and my mother and my father, but also two of my brothers. The memories seem strong here where I now live, though this is neither a house nor an area where any of them have ever even visited. But I am here. And the memories came with me.

I might need notes to remind me of certain things, such as writing a blog, but I do not need a note to remind me of all those who are gone.

I remember.

***

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.

And the Streak Continues!

Can you believe it? It’s been fifty days since I started blogging every day again. Wow, that went fast! For me, anyway. For you, it might have been a long slog since my post topics have been all over the place, with only a thin theme to bind them together: what goes on in my life and in my head.

I blogged every day for many years, and then things happened to get me off the track. Buying a house. Moving. Starting a new life. Even before the house, though, I’d stopped blogging about whatever came to mind. When I was trying to find an agent for Grief: The Inside Story — A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One, I needed to present myself as someone who knew what she was talking about, and a post about apples, for example, just wouldn’t cut it. So I tried to focus on grief topics.

The problem was that I had nothing left to say about grief. I’d spent months working on Grief: The Inside Story, and I included everything I had learned about grief in the book, especially the things that the professional grief community got wrong.

When I started writing the book, I’d been more or less pain free for a year or two (there are always upsurges of grief that one cannot plan for), so I had to dig deep to reconnect with my grief, and in doing so, I’d wrung myself dry.

Consequently, there were no non-grief posts, but no grief posts, either.

As it turned out, it wouldn’t have mattered whatever I wrote for this blog. Literary agents are only interested in people who have tens of thousands of followers, and I’m nowhere close to that number. The irony of it all is that if I had such a following, I sure as heck wouldn’t have needed the agents!

By that time, though, I’d lost the habit of daily blogging, so I finally challenged myself to blog daily for 100 days in an effort to kickstart my writing.

Now here I am, halfway through that self-imposed 100-day blog challenge, and enjoying it immensely. I’d forgotten how good it feels to find something to write about each day, something that happened, maybe, and try to show why it was important.

The challenge ends on January 2, 2020, which means there are forty-eight days left until the end of the year.

What are you going to do with those days?

I know what I’m going to do: blog!

***

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.

Who Visits My Blog

Well, yes, of course, you visit my blog. But so do people from all around the world.  Most come from the USA and other English speaking countries. Others come from countries I’ve never even heard of, and yet, someone in those countries has heard of me. What an amazing thing the internet is!

Here is a map showing where my visitors originate:

Pink shows visitors, and the darker the pink, the more visitors. Apparently, if I am reading the map correctly, the only places from which no visitors have come are Greenland, Svalbard, Turkmenistan, Western Sahara, Guinea-Bissau, Chad, and Central African Republic. I find this utterly astonishing. Not to be disingenuous, but I simply can’t imagine being interesting enough to attract so many different people.

Here is the incredible list of countries where visitors have come from. (The number represents visitations only, not views, since often people click on more than one blog entry, and each click is a view):

United States 364502
United Kingdom 64705
Canada 42126
India 35091
Australia 25092
Philippines 7152
Pakistan 6247
Ireland 6045
South Africa 4668
New Zealand 4236
Malaysia 4145
Singapore 4003
Germany 3227
European Union 2448
France 2093
Netherlands 1982
Indonesia 1657
United Arab Emirates 1556
Brazil 1364
Hong Kong SAR China 1318
Italy 1317
Spain 1283
Norway 1262
Russia 1258
Saudi Arabia 1091
Denmark 1085
Thailand 1053
Japan 1012
Sweden 1002
Turkey 957
Lebanon 939
Bangladesh 881
Vietnam 875
Romania 834
Mexico 827
Belgium 822
South Korea 799
Switzerland 739
Nigeria 733
Poland 714
Kenya 711
Greece 709
Argentina 685
Israel 589
Nepal 570
Egypt 561
Jamaica 556
Sri Lanka 510
Portugal 490
Finland 462
Trinidad & Tobago 444
Austria 415
Taiwan 406
Hungary 353
Ukraine 337
Jordan 330
Cambodia 319
Malta 316
Ghana 298
Qatar 292
Czech Republic 278
Bulgaria 278
Serbia 271
Mauritius 261
Kuwait 260
Morocco 252
Croatia 244
Slovakia 236
Puerto Rico 231
Colombia 226
Slovenia 194
Oman 185
Tunisia 171
Albania 162
Algeria 158
Chile 156
Iraq 153
Cyprus 153
American Samoa 150
Bahrain 141
Bahamas 141
Lithuania 138
Estonia 131
China 126
Uganda 124
British Virgin Islands 121
Iceland 119
Zimbabwe 119
Tanzania 117
Latvia 115
Georgia 112
Myanmar (Burma) 110
Peru 108
Ecuador 102
Venezuela 101
Macedonia 100
Botswana 96
Guyana 96
Costa Rica 94
Palestinian Territories 93
Panama 91
Armenia 91
Belize 88
Brunei 85
Barbados 80
Maldives 79
Fiji 77
Bosnia & Herzegovina 76
Isle of Man 74
Luxembourg 73
Jersey 71
Azerbaijan 70
Bhutan 69
Dominican Republic 64
Afghanistan 63
Namibia 62
Antigua & Barbuda 59
Yemen 55
Syria 55
Zambia 55
Kazakhstan 54
Grenada 54
Moldova 53
Malawi 49
Papua New Guinea 49
Guernsey 49
Ethiopia 48
Guatemala 47
Belarus 47
Macau SAR China 46
Bermuda 46
Guam 44
St. Vincent & Grenadines 44
Cayman Islands 44
St. Lucia 43
Cameroon 41
El Salvador 37
Libya 35
Uruguay 34
Curaçao 32
Laos 32
Bolivia 31
Lesotho 30
Gibraltar 29
Honduras 28
Paraguay 27
Mongolia 26
Nicaragua 26
Montenegro 26
U.S. Virgin Islands 25
Swaziland 25
Rwanda 25
Aruba 24
St. Kitts & Nevis 20
Suriname 20
Mozambique 20
Dominica 19
Monaco 19
Côte d’Ivoire 17
Northern Mariana Islands 16
Sudan 16
Seychelles 16
Åland Islands 14
Senegal 13
Congo – Kinshasa 12
Somalia 10
Kyrgyzstan 10
Angola 10
Madagascar 9
Vanuatu 8
Djibouti 7
Uzbekistan 7
Réunion 7
Guadeloupe 7
Anguilla 7
Liberia 6
Caribbean Netherlands 6
Solomon Islands 5
Faroe Islands 5
Haiti 4
Cook Islands 4
Turks & Caicos Islands 4
Benin 3
Iran 3
Burundi 3
French Polynesia 3
Cuba 3
Liechtenstein 3
Gabon 3
Sierra Leone 3
Timor-Leste 2
Martinique 2
Mali 2
Tajikistan 2
Micronesia 2
Vatican City 1
Burkina Faso 1
South Sudan 1
Congo – Brazzaville 1
Falkland Islands 1
St. Helena 1
Marshall Islands 1
Mauritania 1
Netherlands Antilles 1
French Guiana 1
Montserrat 1
Kiribati 1
Cape Verde 1
Niger 1
Samoa 1
Sint Maarten 1

***

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.

 

Field of Hopes, Field of Dreams

A friend asked how many holes I’d dug, and what I planted. It was easier to answer here than as a comment, and besides, it brings me one day closer to my goal of 100 continuous days of blogging.

I must have dug a hundred holes. I had more than three hundred bulbs, and approximately three went into each hole (all properly spaced properly). In retrospect, it was silly doing it all in one day because I worked too hard and ended up with a bad cough that is preventing me from doing anything, especially not planting the last ten bulbs (lilies) that I’d planned to put along the fence in the backyard.

I really don’t see how I could have done it differently, though. I wanted the bulbs intermixed so that the yard will look less like a formal garden and more like a splurge of flowers in a field, and so it pretty much all had to be done at the same time.

I planted lots of tulips and daffodils. Anemones. Snowdrops. Crocuses. Dwarf iris. Larkspur. Grape hyacinth. Aconite. Bluebells.

And I planted hopes and dreams. Dreams of a lovely yard come spring. Hope that spring will in fact come, that the bulbs will flower, that I will still be here, that I will continue to find joy in the little (the best!) things of life.

(The photo was taken this morning and shows the frost on my field of hopes and dreams.)

***

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 Spattering of Snow

Some areas of Colorado got dumped on last night, but here in my neighborhood, we just got a spattering — more rain than snow, though there were enough flakes to settle in a few places.

The snow is all gone, now. It was mostly just a reminder of the winter days to come. Am I ready? It’s been years since I had to deal with a true winter. I thought there would be time to get acclimated to chillier temperatures, but we went directly from 80 degrees to 60 degrees to 40 degrees in just a couple of weeks.

It will warm up, of course — Colorado always does. I remember occasionally playing outside at Christmas, then bundling up in heavy coats come Easter. Some Halloweens we wore just our costumes, other years our costumes were buried under layers of outerwear. I remember years of no snow, and years where snow was so deep nothing moved. I even remember a year where there was snow all twelve months — the last snowstorm of one winter came in July, the first of the following winter came the very next month at the end of August.

So am I ready? As ready as I ever was, and as ready as I ever could be in a place where you can’t really determine what the winter will bring.

***

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.

And the Streak Continues!

It’s so nice of WordPress to let me know how many days in a row I’ve been blogging so I don’t have to keep looking it up. Though, to be honest, being able to post a tally of my blog streak only matters on a day like today when I have nothing new to say. (With today’s post, the streak will be 24 days. Yay! Well, yay for me. You might not think it’s something to “yay” about.)

As for the work on my house: the two thick layers of concrete that comprised my garage floor are gone, and the poor neighbors are no longer being subjected to the sound of a jackhammer. We found a few more bones scattered beneath the garage, but nothing earthshaking.

The workers are at another job today, and oddly, I feel a bit lost without them here — the day seems so uneventful without holes being dug, fences being erected, concrete being broken up. But that uneventfulness is an illusion, a matter of all that energy not being expended around here.

I went to the historical museum this morning for a last meeting about the murder mystery, and in a little while, I will meet people at the monthly community dinner. So see? I’m keeping busy.

I am enjoying this last especially warm day of the season. 87 degrees! Next week it will be mostly in the sixties, cool enough to start planting all the bulbs I’ve ordered — so it will be me digging holes — three hundred of them! — creating (or destroying) my own energy.

I’ll let you know how that goes.

***

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.

Putting the Pieces Together

Today is my twentieth straight day of blogging. So far, I am honoring my commitment to blog for 100 days straight, though I almost didn’t make it today. The note by my computer reminding me to blog got knocked over (during a wild game of solitaire) and without the reminder, it was too easy to let the day go by.

Not that the day was easy. It wasn’t particularly hard, either, just . . . well, let’s call it a rerun. When I first moved here, much of my stuff was stored in the enclosed porch, but when the workers came to redo the foundation of the porch (there were only two small columns of concrete on either end of the 20-foot room, and since that wasn’t enough to hold up the weight of the house, the porch was rapidly sinking), I had to move all the stuff into the garage. At the time, I thought it was the final move for the camping equipment, tools, and things I wasn’t ready to throw away — there’d been a huge crack down the center of the garage, and the patch seemed to hold. But then came a freeze/thaw cycle, and that was the end of my pretty floor. Now the crack is bigger than ever.

The workers are planning on coming later this week to redo the garage foundation as well as the concrete floor, and so all the stuff had to be moved. I’m hoping by the time I get it all back in the garage, it can stay there.

There are so many bits and pieces to putting together a home, it seems like I am forever moving the pieces around, trying to get it right — and to get my life right. I seem to manage not to do things I should, like exercise, and I seem to manage to do things I shouldn’t — like eat unhealthy things.

I’m sure there are also extraneous pieces that will need to be set aside one day, but that’s not a problem for today.

(I found this quite disturbing piece in a puzzle of featuring a cardinal in a cottonwood. It took me awhile to realize I had it upside down and that it was not part of the bird but a face. It took me even longer to discover that it is part of Chaz Palminteri’s face from a movie puzzle.)

***

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.

On A Streak!

WordPress notified me that I’m on a three-day blogging streak. Is three days a streak? It seems more like a dash or a hyphen, but today’s blog makes four days, so that comes closer to a streak.

I’m also on a streak of spending time with people, joining them for community meals (which is playing havoc with my so far unstated challenge of eating more nutritious foods), but I suppose from a health standpoint, it could be argued that an unhealthy diet with people is as bad as eating good food alone — at least that’s what recent studies seem to indicate.

I’ve taken this opportunity of being among people to poll them about the tarantula migration. The local newspaper, as well as the newspapers in the big cities on the front range of the Rockies (Denver, Colorado Springs, Pueblo) have all printed near hysterical articles on the vast number of tarantulas that are supposed to be roaming the area.

And yet . . .

I haven’t seen any. I overheard a fellow in the grocery store lamenting that he took his grandsons out to see tartantulas, and didn’t see any. The reporter who wrote the article for the paper went out to get a photo, and he didn’t see a tarantula, either. My neighbor saw one lone creature crossing the highway in the early morning hours.

My informal poll elicited all sorts of information about the tarantulas, where to go to look for them, where they hang out, where people have seen them, (further questioning shows that their information comes from the newspapers, what people have said over the years, and what they themselves have seen in previous years.

But except for that neighbor, no one has seen any this year, and a single sighting of a single tarantula does not make a migration. So basically, the tarantula migration seems to be another case of fake news or of an attempt to induce hysteria in an unwary public. (Though truly, since few people see the creatures or care to see them, no one gets upset by the articles as they do with harder news.)

It’s possible, since the weather is still relatively warm, that these bird-eating spiders or Theraphosids are still cozy in their burrows and not ready to face what they might consider a human migration (from their point of view, the humans out looking for them might seem like some sort of annual people migration).

I suppose the bigger question here is whether it is better to eat alone, or to eat with others and ruin everyone’s appetite with spider stories, or is it better to eat alone and keeps one’s spider-induced questions to oneself.

So what does any of this have to do with anything?

Not a darn thing.

But it’s a blog, and I am on a streak.

***

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.