Monday, July 24, 2017

No Work and All Play

My body let it be known that it was time for some rest.  I enjoy projects but my arthritic hands, bursitis shoulder,  and decaying knees not so much.  So this past weekend:


I took my first swim in the lake. Truthfully, with all the cold rain we’ve had, the lake has been pretty chilly, but swim I did.  Not very far and very close to the shoreline, just in case.  I will need build up my endurance over time.


Beaner and a friend joined us for an easy, no stress BBQ that included farmstand, just picked corn on the cob.  Ultra sweet with butter running down my chin. Yum.


Took a quiet, easy kayak trip around the lake surveying the new construction. I tried to join a flock of geese but they would have no part of me.


the concrete structure is the dam that created the lake


Sat in my Adirondack chair and read an entire book - Little Big Lies - cover to cover.  An entertaining book with some very important messages about domestic abuse.   I am a pretty slow reader but this was a page turner.




I did stain the part of the reconstructed deck because, well, it’s just not a weekend at the lake without getting something done.


But I balanced that with a nap in my favorite hammock.  



Fresh air. Great summer food. Being in and on the water. Naps in a hammock.  Life is Good. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Lazy Days of Summer?


Summertime and the living is easy.

Unless you own a summer camp.

Fifteen years ago I built a deck for the lake house.  But to get around some zoning issues and the fact that the area is built on a rock shelf, I couldn’t put support piers into the ground. The whole deck (33 ft wide) floats and is supported by cement blocks.  Over time, as the northeast winters freeze the ground, the deck has heaved into a wavy, uneven mess.  This was the year to fix it.  First, remove 1000 screws that have wormed their way deep into the wood. About half came out. The other half had to be broken and/or hack sawed.  Then remove the supporting bolts to lower and heightened the corners as needed.  But of course, half the bolts broke requiring more hack sawing.  Bring in a couple more ‘heavier than hell’ cement supports (they were a lot lighter 15 years ago!) , cut and toenail in 12 joist supports and then screw all the top boards back on. It took us two 12 hour, backbreaking days to get it done.  It took me 3 days to recuperate from all my aches and pains. And unfortunately all that work and only 1/3 of the deck is done.  Then it will all need to be re-stained.


Two years ago Martha wanted to remove the carpeting in the dining area.  We peaked under a corner and saw wood flooring.  Great!   Until it all came up and we saw this.


Yep, they had run out of planks and so finished the floor with whatever non-matching wood they had left.  For the last 2 years Martha has been chirping at me to re-finish the floor.  I wanted to use wide plank pine, she wanted an engineered, easy to maintain floor.  We have looked for over a year and finally agreed on something so time to start that job.


Friday we were going to drive up and get the floor done together but on Thursday night we put out a skunk trap (yes, still dealing with a skunk issue at home) and actually caught one.  Unfortunately the pest control people could not come until Friday afternoon to relocate the animal so I went alone to do the floor while Martha waited at home, babysitting the skunk. By and large it was not a difficult job but very hard on my old weak knees.



Martha arrived just as I was doing the finishing touches (of course) and had a list of “smaller” jobs for the rest of the weekend.  Build shelves in the garage. Check.  Fix broken gutter. Check. Mow lawn. Check.  Meanwhile Martha was busy replacing some rusty old faucets, shampooing the carpets, painting shutters and hanging new lighting fixtures, a garage sale bargain. 

Occasionally we would take a break, sit in our Adirondack chairs overlooking the lake, sipping iced tea and wonder what it must be like to have a little mountain place to get away to and relax.  

We have no idea.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Full of Grace

  • After a week of very healthy eating and exercise, feeling good and dropping a few pounds.



I don't expect this rate to continue every week but hopefully it will reboot me into more mindful activities
  • Peaches still on the tree.  This is the largest they have ever been without them disappearing overnight.  I am beginning to get hopeful.






  • Everyone coming to the lake for the 4th of July weekend.  It’s always nice to be all together.



  • Answering an open request, Beaner and I were interviewed and gave a statement for this case. The Court got one right and we are thrilled to have been a tiny part of it.



  • Sold my first item on Craig’s List.  For those of you who are aware of my spouse’s borderline hoarding personality this was a big deal.  Plus $50 went into the 'going out to eat' fund.  I hope it is the beginning of some major decluttering efforts.



Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Full of Grace

The first of my bonus daughters got married in a beautiful, tear jerking ceremony last week.  I imagine that there will now be a string of weddings, much like we went through a rash of bar and bat mitzvahs, then Sweet 16s, then graduation parties. It is the next stage of their lives but it is making me feel very old. I have known these girls since they were 3. How can they possibly be old enough to marry already?

Installing a couple of new exterior doors and replacing all the rotten wood. We anticipated rot along the bottom where snow accumulates but on one of the doors the entire header was shot. So instead of an easy install we wound up having to remove siding, cut out all the rotten wood and replace a huge section of the garage header. It was a hell of a job that took days instead of hours, but I am grateful that we still have the strength and know-how to do these repairs.  And we feel we did something good for the house as well.


My peach tree has an over abundance of baby peaches loading down the branches.  I harbor no hope that the squirrels will leave me any once they are ripe but the whole process of trees bearing fruit both fascinates and delights me.


Along with now being able to pick a fresh salad every night.




And finally the monsoon season seems to have ended with a heat wave so I am walking my dog early in the morning and seeing the neighborhood in a whole new, summery light.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

When does a cucumber become a pickle?

Sometimes in a man’s life,
Stuff happens that makes everyone go quiet,
So quiet that no one
Even dares to talk about it.
Not to anyone, not even to themselves.
Not in their head and not out loud.
Not a fucking word. Cause everything
has somehow gotten stuck.
There, deep in the fields,
Under the trees and leaves, year after year.

Then suddenly it all comes back,
Just like that, from one day to the next.
No matter how long ago it was
There will always be someone
To bring it all back.
Because no matter what you do or think
One thing is for sure -
You are always fucked.
Now, tomorrow, next week, or next year,
Until the end of time.

Fucked.

Opening lines from the movie Bullhead
_______________________

Any of you who have followed my blog for a long time know that I when I started writing I was in a deep throes of PTSD. I was completely at the mercy of whatever triggers sprung up and they would render me a quaking, blubbering, terrified blob for days.  Sometimes weeks.

I spent a torturous couple of years going through exposure and other therapies which brought me through that dark forest of terror and anxiety.  I am so deeply grateful for my original therapist who led me through that process but who sadly and unexpectedly died before we saw the finish line.  

Is there a finish line for PTSD recovery?

I never wanted to forget what happened to me. To us.  That would seem disloyal to Daphne and somehow be lying to myself. But my therapist convinced me that I could still remember and honor what happened yet learn to process my responses to it differently.  And for the most part, if I am vigilant about working at it, I have been mostly successful at that. The memories are still there but they no longer control me. I am able to live a pretty calm and normal life.

Then suddenly someone/something happens.

No matter how long ago it was
There will always be someone
To bring it all back.

There is only one person in my life now who knew me from that time and that is my best friend. I moved away so I would never again have to see that look of pity in people’s faces who knew.  Then my former boss called me from out of the blue having tracked me down through professional organizations. And there it was.  An innocent phone call, and wham!

Fucked.


I occasionally attend group therapy for folks with PTSD - sexual assault, veterans, one 9/11 survivor. No matter what the original trauma was, there is a common thread of knowing/fearing that some trigger is always lurking, waiting to yank you back down the hole.

One thing is for sure -
You are always fucked.
Now, tomorrow, next week, or next year,
Until the end of time.

I once asked my therapist “when will I be whole again?”  

She answered, “When does a cucumber become a pickle?”

It is a riddle I am still trying to answer.






Saturday, May 20, 2017

Retirement?

re·tire·ment
rəˈtī(ə)rmənt/
noun


  1. the action or fact of leaving one's job and ceasing to work . . .


. . . only to then be called upon to do everyone else’s work.


My daughter, who is moving into a new apartment, called to ask if I could paint it for her. She asked by saying “since I have to work 50 hours this week and you are home all day, would you mind ...”  

Jim, a casual acquaintance, recently had open heart surgery and cannot drive for a few weeks. A mutual friend called and asked “Jim needs a ride to a doctor’s appointment.  He asked me but since you are retired, and live closer, would you mind taking him?”  Which of course I did, but now Jim calls me every other day asking for a ride to the grocery store or could I pick up his meds.” Every time he says “Isn’t retirement great, to have all day to do whatever?”

A friend called to ask if I could come over and rototill her garden “in my spare time”  And then she laughed and said “I suppose you have nothing BUT spare time these days.”


Why is it that when you retire everyone thinks you have nothing to do?  They think my days are like this:



In all honestly I didn’t mind doing any of these favors for people.  But I do kind of resent the implication that now that I’ve retired I do nothing but sit around, twiddling my thumbs, waiting for someone to call and give me something to do. I already volunteered 2- 6 hours a week doing errands for the elderly.  I have a yard and gardens to tend, a house that always needs fixing, household projects, a never ending “honey-do” list, relationships to nourish, vacations to plan.  In fact, I still haven’t found the time to do the things I thought I would like practicing the piano, reading and writing more, taking an interesting college class or daily taking my dog on different hiking trails.



I retired to have the time to do the things I want to do, not to pick up everyone else’s chores.

Sheeze.  

Rant over.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Full of Grace

The last fruit tree is planted and my tiny orchard is complete - peaches, apples, cherries, and pears. Last year the squirrels took every piece of fruit borne but I am hopeful as the trees mature and supply a more bountiful harvest, that the squirrels might leave me a few pieces to enjoy.


I finally finished putting a skirt on the deck (in between wave after wave of cold rain) so hopefully no more skunks or possums living under there.  What a nightmare that was.


Getting out my summer clothes I noticed for the first time that I can wear some light colored T-shirts and not have my slowly fading mastectomy scars show through.  I still can’t wear white, but some improvement is encouraging. Of course Martha says that I could a always wear a bra to cover the scars but I have not worn one in 5 years and it is the one perk I refuse to give back.

And speaking of cancer healing, today I will be donating blood for the first time in 5 years. I am truly feeling that cancer is behind me.  


This is where I'll be spending Mother's Day with my family. The Yankees will be retiring Derek Jeter's number at a pregame ceremony so it should be a memorable day. And we will all be together which is the best part of all.