My Own Days

This was one of those oddly busy days though not a lot seemed to get accomplished. Come to think of it, I did get several chores done — a load of laundry, a quick trip to the library, an even quicker trip to store. And when I was coming home from a walk to the library, I met up with a friend who was also out walking. Apparently, we both decided to take advantage of the windless, sunny day before cold descends once again. We wandered a bit and visited, which was nice. You’d think we’d see each other more frequently since we live only a couple of blocks apart, but somehow the days pass without our making an effort to connect, so it’s especially gratifying when we just happen to meet.

We have made plans for teatime in a couple of days, so that’s good. It’s one of the best things about small town living — having friends close by.

Still, all that wasn’t enough to fill up the day, and yet here it is, dark already, and I have no idea where all today’s hours went. I haven’t even been spending much time on the computer, though I did check my email and discovered a refund was being sent to me from part of an order that got lost somewhere along the way. They’d sent my order of four items in three packages. Not terribly efficient, but I suppose I should be glad I got the two items I really needed rather than none of them.

Tracking numbers are such a great thing. I like knowing where my packages are and when they will get here. Even better, if they do get lost, especially if it was a purchase from one of the giants like Walmart or Amazon, they contact me to let me know and advise me they are sending a refund. I remember times when I didn’t get something I ordered, and a dozen calls and much paperwork later, I finally received either a replacement or a refund. This way is so much easier!

Of course, the refund means I now have to find a way to get those missing items, though that’s not a problem. I mostly added them to the order to get free shipping, since the items I needed didn’t meet the minimum, but I can pick up the items the next time I go to the “big city.”

As it stands, tomorrow shouldn’t be busy, oddly or otherwise, since I did all my chores and errands today. I’ll probably take the opportunity to go out walking again since the temperatures won’t drop until Tuesday, and I have a due library book I should finish reading, but other than that, my day is my own.

Actually, all my days are my own. I just choose to use some of those days working. Or whatever.

***

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

Consuming Time

It’s amazing to me how much time is consumed by paying a couple of bills and running a few errands. The errand part might, of course, have something to do with my not actually running. In fact, today I had to pick my way along slick, snow-packed roads, wearing cumbersome hiking shoes and using a couple of trekking poles.

And that was the easy way. I gave up on the sidewalks shortly after moving here. With a few happy exceptions, the sidewalks around here are cracked and buckled and downright dangerous during the dry seasons, but when they are covered in snow (because only those same few happy exceptions shovel the snow), the sidewalks are truly treacherous.

The slow trudging to get from place to place wasn’t the only thing that consumed time. I talked to the librarian for a while, then at a store I visited I happened to meet up with a person I needed to talk to, and when I was on my way out, I visited with another acquaintance. I had to cut that visit short — she kept moving closer, and I kept moving away. Whatever happened to keeping a six-foot distance?

But now I’m home safe, and though several hours simply disappeared out of my day, there is still plenty of unconsumed time for the important things of life, such as reading and perhaps cooking a meal for a change.

As it turns out, the books I mentioned yesterday that I had to pick up at the library and was hesitant to read, are books I’d already read, so that frees up time, too. I don’t know what glitch in their system sent the books to me twice, but I’m just as glad not to have to read them, though now I wonder if I should try to get the two I haven’t yet read before I completely phase out that author.

The snow is rapidly melting, so when I have to return these books to the library in the next day or so (there’s no point in keeping them for the entire checked-out time), the errand should be finished quickly.

I’m also caught up with bills, so yay! No more time consumers for a while.

***

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

Blowing in the Wind

Today has been a challenging day for reasons other than health — either mine or the world’s.

I was all set to go out for a walk this morning when the winds came up. Not breezes. Full winds. Since I was already dressed and not at all gruntled — I’m still feeling a bit ruffled by the minor (very minor) storm some of my posts have created — I figured this would be the perfect time to prune the dead branches from some bushes I’d transplanted because the unpleasant task wouldn’t ruin a good mood or a good day. Considering that most of the bushes that needed to be cut back were native roses, it turned out to be rather a prickly situation. Even with thick work gloves on, I still managed to draw blood.

After I’d wrestled the dead branches into the dumpster, I waited for the winds to calm down so I could run a necessary errand, but it didn’t happen. So I had to uncover my car while the winds were blowing. That turned out to be much the way I imagine it would be if one tried to fold up one’s parasail while one is blowing in the wind. Normally, I could have walked to do my errand — the bank is a mere three blocks away — but now only the drive-up is open. So, considering the battle to unwrap the car and fold up the cover, drive to the bank, head down the road a couple of extra miles to make sure the car got it’s weekly workout, then come back and recover the car, the errand took three or four times what it normally would.

Such are the adventures of my day.

I looked at the weather forecast — a rather foolish endeavor since in the past couple of months, few of those predictions turned out to be correct — and noticed that next week should be very warm, and the week after that quite hot. In the nineties. So I am trying to enjoy this cooler weather, wind notwithstanding.

But it’s March. Winds are to be expected.

Wait! March? No, it’s April! I seem to have lost a month somewhere along the line. Maybe the winds blew it away.

***

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 Neighborhood Feel

Once upon a time, I lived in a what now seems a mythical city. This city wasn’t respected, wasn’t really considered much of a city at all. It had the reputation for being a cow town, and in many ways, it was a town, or rather, a town of towns. Each neighborhood was self-sufficient with schools, stores, libraries, all within walking distance. Crime was negligible because people in each town knew one another. Kids roller skated on the sidewalks, rode bikes in the streets, ran errands for their parents. And from wherever you stood, the mountains were visible to the west.

Those mountains were a constant presence, a compass so we always knew where we were, and most of all, a benevolent guardian. Violent storm clouds dumped snow in the mountains, sailed serenely over Denver where they gathered more moisture to dump on the plains.

And then it all changed. Californians fleeing their bloated state “Californicated” Colorado (as the saying went), and a Texas boy, with political aspirations and no loyalty to the area, “imagined a great city.” And so the town of towns slowly died. Smog enveloped the newly named “great city.” The clean drinking water disappeared and what came out of the faucets tasted like chlorine. Crime became rampant. People locked themselves away from the neighbors they no longer knew. And a burgeoning skyline that grew ever taller changed the climate. (Apparently, the storms thought the upward-reaching mass of buildings an extension of the mountains, and so heavy snows — once a rarity — became the norm.)

Jeff and I escaped the growth, searching for what we once had — a quieter, slower, friendlier life. We never found it, except in the life we created with each other. The neighborhoods we had grown up in were more small-town ideal than any small town we ever found. No one walked anywhere. The people in the towns we lived seemed closed, not just to us, but to each other. Cliques focusing around church or school were the norm, and outsiders weren’t particularly welcome. (When I left the town we’d lived for twenty years, the only people I had to say good-bye to were the librarians.)

I realized the truth of our Denver, then: that neighborhoods had been our lifeblood, and the neighborhood way of life was disappearing. I’d gotten used to the way things had become, and had thought the life we wanted would be forever in the past, so it came as a surprise when I once again found the neighborhood spirit.

In many ways, where I live now is like the neighborhood of my childhood. I walk to the library, run errands on foot, have the next-door friend I never had growing up. (I always envied those who had a friend living next door, and now I do!). There is a friend who lives a couple blocks away that I sometimes go walking with, and adding to the charm and the memory of childhood, we take turns walking each other home.

Because of this childhood feel, this neighborhood feel, I am sometimes affronted by the reality of growing older. What lies in front of me is (eventually) “the end” rather than endless possibility. But I am not at the end yet, perhaps not for many years, and who knows — I might find a widening of possibilities despite any creeping decrepitude. After all, I did find my way here.

It seems odd — and a bit sad — to have found what Jeff and I were looking for (minus the mountains or other places to commune with nature; there is nary a mountain to be seen anywhere in town). Sometimes I worry how he will fit into this house and this lifestyle, and I have to remind myself that he is gone. Ironically, his death more or less led me here. If “need” brings certain changes to our lives, perhaps he and I didn’t need this sort of lifestyle, but now that I am alone, I do.

***

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.