Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year


2011 DEC 31

If you're here for profound thoughts about the passing on another year, you're in the wrong blog :-D


This year has been one of transitions in many ways. I transitioned from caring for Nicky and Anamaria, to being retired. The transition involved in downsizing our stuff has been an ongoing process for the past 18 months. We bought our RV and began the real downsizing to fit our life into a Class C recreational vehicle, in July. Raymond spent all of the summer incapacitated in one way or another. First, with his dislocated shoulder in June, followed by his ruptured Achilles tendon in August. Those injuries made his transition into being fully retired (from UPS and from Macy's) happen differently than he had planned.  His need to follow up with physical therapy, caused us to postpone our "on the road" date more than once.


But, after all the plan-changing, postponements and emotional angst, here it is New Year's Eve 2011 and we are thousands of miles from Pittsburgh. We are looking at the dawning of a new year and a new way of life for us. At Christmas I cried tears of sadness and homesickness, not for the place I left, but for the people, my family and friends. Tonight I may cry again, but not from sorrow or even missing folks. No, tonight the tears are just tears. We are beginning anew and sometimes even in the good times, tears need to flow to water the plans and dreams yet to come.



So far, this simpler life is still unfolding, but we like what we've experienced so far. And bringing in the New Year with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Gulf of Florida on the other is not too shabby! (Even if we will both be sound asleep when the new year rolls in.)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

On The Road


2011 Dec 27

We left Pittsburgh on December 16 at 5pm. The actual departure was late, very late, when compared with our estimated departure. Initially we thought to leave Pittsburgh in mid November. Circumstances kept pushing the date further and further along until we finally just said, "ENOUGH!". And despite having multiple  problems in the RV,we made an appointment for the warrantied repairs to be done once we reached Florida, so we decided to hit the road. Many folks on various RV pages suggested NOT doing what we did. Many counselled returning to the dealer where we bought the RV. But, after multiple phone calls, including one to the manufacturer, we felt our interests were better served by scheduling in Florida. Not that we didn't spend a little time second-guessing  ourselves. But, in the end, our decision turned out to be a good one. Thank God.


We originally planned to depart Pittsburgh in late morning. Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans? OK, how about consistently disrupted, ever changing plans? As things turned out, we were pulling out of our yard as dark descended, the one thing we swore we wouldn't do. Of course, we knew we weren't going to drive very far in the dark, but we needed to at least get out of Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania.


We were battered, emotionally and physically, and desperately in need of showers. Our last showers had been on Wednesday morning before the gas to the house was shut off. We drove as far as Morgantown, WV. There we got a motel room that was grossly over-priced, had filthy hallway carpets and that pervading "motel" smell. What it did have, was a clean bathroom and great hot water!  I liked it so much that I showered twice! 


Onward! Our appointment in Seffner, FL for repairs was scheduled for Dec 22 at 8AM, so we knew we didn't need to rush. Plus one of the things that makes driving the RV enjoyable is getting in the right lane, setting the cruise control and allowing everyone to pass you. 


As we drove through WV I was hoping to meet up an Internet friend currently living in Lewisburg. We opted not to call him, though, since he had just left Pittsburgh himself on Friday and I was concerned that he would be either at work, or exhausted. That was a dumb thing to do. First lesson of interpersonal dynamics learned on the road: MAKE THE CALL; Let the person make their own decisions. (Bobby, I'm sorry.) 


We drove on, through Virginia, where I can report that the drivers are as insane in the mountains as they are along 95 and 64. After a brief stop at a rest area in VA, where we were trying to take a nap, unsuccessfully, we pressed on toward the North Carolina Hills.


The place we choose to stop for the night was a lovely rest area with lots of little islands of trees. We slept well. Although, the temperature dropped more than we expected and we had to get up in the middle of the night and turn the furnace on, but at least we had a furnace! Since we had no water pump, we had no water in the holding tank, so washing up & teeth brushing were accomplished with a small jug of water. Flushing we managed with a container of water that we filled from when we drained the house. This was a tall container that we were keeping inside the non-usable shower. It was almost like rough camping, except in an RV.


About this point in our journey, I started to feel sick. And so did Greyla. Poor pupper vomited which is very unlike her. Then she developed diarrhea. My yuckiness was briefly intestinal, but finally fully manifest as a sore throat, and raspy cough. This turn of events more than any other, led to our first stay in a Thousand Trails campground in South Carolina. 


Originally, we had  planned to stay one or two nights in The Oaks at Point South. However, it was warm there, in the 60s & 70s. My cold and cough were wretched and the campground was free to us as TT members. Plus, we could walk to the local crossroads for anything essential, like bread, newspaper or ginger ale, since it was less than a mile. We stayed on until Wednesday morning, happy to be in warmth, with plenty of time for rest and recuperation.


Since our appointment at Lazydays Service Department was for early Thursday morning, we had planned to arrive in Seffner, check into the Lazydays Campground before dark and be up and ready for the service department at 8 AM.


Again, the best laid plans... We hit some construction and rush hour, delaying our arrival at the campground till just at dusk. When we stopped to register at the guard station, we were told that we could dry camp right down at the Service Dept for free. Instead, we opted to pay and camped directly across from access to showers, jacuzzi, heated swimming pool and a little bistro where you could get something to eat & drink. The only hairy part was backing into the site. But, fortunately, the couple behind us were fluent in sign language and helped greatly, since their English was as non existent as our French.


Lazydays is a huge facility with the campground & resort, plus the dealership, service and a Camping World Store. Our experience with them was very positive. We met with Kim, who was our service contact person. She double checked all the info regarding what wasn't working and was straightforward in letting us know that if there needed to be parts ordered, the repairs wouldn't happen until sometime in January. We said that we understood, but intended to "keep a good thought" that they would have what was needed in stock. But, if we had to wait for ordered parts, we certainly understood and would cross that bridge when necessary.


We spent the entire day at the Lazydays Service Dept. They provided a free breakfast and lunch, as well as random snacks, bottled water and Starbucks coffee. Our dog was welcome in half of the huge waiting area and their high speed wireless connection was zippy! If I had been feeling healthier, I'm sure we could've gone to the swimming pool while we waited. In any case, nine hours later, we once again had a functioning shower, water pump, TV,  stove fan and light. And we are grateful to the Thor representative, Mike, who suggested going to whomever would schedule an appointment the soonest. I would've loved to stay right there, except that it wasn't really in the budget. And, truth be told, it may have been a bit 'close' after a few days, since the sights are rather small. But it was a good experience overall.


While waiting at Lazydays, we attempted to find another TT site that we could stay at for free. There was availability at Peace River, but when comparing photos with the Encore Manatee Resort, we opted for Manatee. Even though it is a greater out of pocket expense, the ease of location and the many amenities made it seem like a good choice. We've been here since late Thursday and plan, so far, to stay until Dec 29, although we may rethink that.


Raymond very much wants to head to the FL Keys, but they are very pricey, even with membership discounts. He would like to camp on the beach, too. We also would like to see our friends, who live in North Port, just south of where we are now. Not sure exactly what we're doing next. And I suppose that is the point of all this, but it's a difficult mindset for me to acclimate to. In time I suppose I'll adjust, but for right now, I'd be slightly more comfortable with more concrete plans. 


All in all, despite the rough start, these first eleven days have been good. Christmas Eve was emotionally very hard and I was extremely homesick, but then I talked to many of my brothers and my sister and my Daddy and the sadness dissipated. We are rethinking our idea that we can have just the RV, without a towed vehicle for the full six months we had planned. But, all things in their time. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

An Old Dream, Reborn


2011 November 10


When Raymond and I were first together, we wanted a dog. A puppy actually. We were completely ignorant of some many factors at that time, that we got our dog from folks who had an ad in the Pennysaver, a "free to good home" ad. When I called to inquire about the puppies, I apparently offended the gentleman who placed the ad by asking if there were still puppies available. He responded to my question by telling me, "These ain't no mutts!" Seems his AKC registered Lab had managed to mate with the AKC registered Springer Spaniel next door. The result was a litter of puppies of which he was attempting to rid himself. He said that we were "in luck" because there was one that a woman had returned because her husband didn't want it. With stars in our eyes, a song in our hearts ("Me and You and a Dog Named Boo") we headed off to suburbia to check out the puppy. The story in a nutshell, was that the puppy crawled up into my lap and licked my face. Needless to say, we took home a puppy that night. 


We named her Blue. It was the only name we could agree on. So, our song became, "Me and You and a Dog Named Blue" We were in our very early 30s and loved traveling when we could and camping in our little backpacking tent and sometimes in our sad and pathetic Ford Pinto. Blue was our constant companion. She was our sentry when we camped. She would spend long nighttime hours staring out the screened tent flap. She spent time in NC at both the beach and the mountains, as well as in TN, VA, PA, NY, VT, NH, MA, MD, and WV. We often joked that Blue was more well traveled than most of the people in my family. Even after we added Jake, the yellow Lab mix to our family, we still traveled and camped when we could. 



Then "real life" began to interfere. We both worked jobs we disliked. We faced the burden of infertility and the death of the idea of "parenting". We bought a house I never wanted, which was always too much house for us. The neighborhood we lived in began to decline. We dealt with family emergencies, aging parents and family atrophy that we didn't understand. 



There were good times, too. 



We discovered that you could rent a house to vacation in and if there were beds, friends and/or family would come along. Our wanderlust became funneled into two trips to NC most years, one in the February and one in the fall. Raymond still had a job he disliked and in addition, he worked nights, which meant working from 11PM to 8 AM. I was more fortunate, I found a series of jobs as a nanny, which gave me somewhere to put all my  maternal leanings. And In between I also worked part time as a veterinary assistant and discovered I had a gift of empathy. We added and lost dogs and a cat to our family. We never had more than three dogs at a time, but that seemed to be a magic number for us. 



Fast forward to now. I awoke from what seemed to be a very long dream about 3AM. The dream had much  to do with our first dog, Blue. When I awoke, I spent some time reviewing the dream, as I knew it was important and I didn't want to miss any insights. Since I had no paper and pencil at my  bedside to chronicle the dream, I knew I had to do my best to review, evaluate and remember before allowing myself to go back to sleep. (And I am placing a notebook and pen at the bedside today!)



I won't bore you with all the details of the dream. Instead I will tell you what the dream showed me. "Me and You and a Dog Named Blue" became lost. After many false starts and jarring stops and inadequate direction, we are finding our way back to who we were. Gypsies, Old Hippies, 'fly-by-the -seat-of-our-pants' travelers, free spirits - this is who we once were. The dream showed me a part of us that I had nearly forgotten about. It was profound. It eased the jitters that I have been having about getting on the road. It reminded me of the who and what we were and can be again. Wherever the dream came from, I am grateful for it. I am grateful to recognize through whatever means, that we are who we are, regardless of whom we've tried to be over that past 30 years. And with that realization comes a sense of relief and calm.



We have been very blessed, I freely admit that.  Because of the when and where of our lives, we now as retired folks, have a good pension that will allow us to pick up where we left off nearly 30 years ago. But because of what we've been doing for the past 30 years, we get to upgrade from a tent and a Pinto to a motor home. We will travel the highways and byways until we get our fill. Raymond, me and a dog named Grey. It might not be as easily sung as the Blue song, but it is who we are and we celebrate that! 

Monday, November 7, 2011


2011 November 7

Lots on my mind

I have been releasing more of my stuff lately. Physical items and emotional baggage, as well. It is sometimes a difficult process, but even when hard, there are rewards. Last week we donated about 25 boxes of "stuff". Except for a few appliances, I really cannot remember the contents of most of those containers. Interesting how I was hanging on to things I now cannot even recall! This process has been a long one for me and it continues still. In the time that we have been looking at motor homes and planning our escape from the city of our birth, I have been slowing ridding myself of extraneous stuff. So, my guess is that it has been a gradual, maybe three year journey for me to this point.


It has been the same amount of time for my DH, but his approach is so different. He has only begun to be able to let go of stuff in the past month or two. There are some things he still has difficulty parting with and that's OK. His process is different from mine. He had a major breakthrough today. He was able to pack into boxes for donation all except about ten of the books he's been holding on to. And, in being able to let those go, he also frees up the bookcase that his Dad made for him 30+ years ago. And since the bookcase is something his father made for him, he can't donate it to strangers. While it could've been stored at my brother's house, Raymond instead decided to ask his nephew if he would like it. That's a big step!


Yesterday, we packed up and moved to my brother's house all the art work that has hung on our walls for the last twenty years. Well, not ALL the art work. Some pieces were already down and donated or sold. But the ones that we couldn't bear to part with, are now living at my brother's.  I am very fond of things that hang on the wall. I love prints, pictures, painting and photographs. It is a bit of an obsession, actually. One of my favorite subjects is dogs, in particular, Labrador Retrievers. Usually, the piece evokes some emotional response related to one of the five dogs we've lived with over the years. The most special ones will remain with my brother until such time as we are again in a stationery, earthbound abode.  I am sorry that I gave away my Salvador Dali print, "The Sacrament of the Last Supper". But, that is such a small regret, that it doesn't really matter.


The real estate agent has been here. The house will be listed by mid November.  A clean out specialist has been here, evaluated what we haven't gotten rid of and given us an estimate for clearing out what will be left. I still need to buy a new kitchen door and have my neighbor install it. There are things to be delivered to my sister and to another of my brothers. Raymond has some clothing he cannot part with and that too will be stored at my brother's. Good thing he has a big house with an enormous attic! 


We are nearer to departure. Tomorrow morning Raymond has an appointment with the orthopedic doc regarding his ruptured Achilles tendon. His physical therapist has said he needs to strengthen his calf and regain the ability to push off with his toes. I'm assuming that tomorrow we will find out how much longer R will need to be attending PT.  That, in turn, will determine our actual "get on the road" date. 


Once we have an actual date, we will be able to do all the scheduling and address changing that remains. And we will be able to sign over our car to it's new owner.  We also need to have paperwork done for assigning to my brother, Power of Attorney, so that he can accept offers on our house.  And then there will be the last minute getting rid of the bits of furniture we've been hanging onto while we prepare: a few lamps, our bed and bedside table, two living room chairs,  a small table, the cabinet that holds the TV  and video equipment. Not a lot, really.  


I can see light at the end of the tunnel. I can almost see Pittsburgh in the rear view mirror, which brings up a whole bunch of mixed emotions.  But that's for another blog.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Randomness

2011 October 16

We are on vacation at the beach in North Carolina, as guests of my brother Vinny. Two weeks of relaxation, time spent with family and trying to completely remove all thoughts of the remaining chaos to be sorted through before we get on the road full time.

I am grateful to Jennifer who has been keeping an eye on the home front, thereby allowing our time away to be less stressful.

Thinking about all that remains to be done at this point in our vaca would be counter productive, so I'm not going to follow that particular flotsam any further.

I apparently got rid of my bathing suit in my purging. I have spent a week here without one. Maybe today I'll take a trip to Walmart and see if they have any fat girl clearance suits available. Or I'll at least get a tank top, so I can get a bit of sun without looking like a farmer.

Raymond plans to spend the day watching football. My brothers, Vinny and Dave may come along with me on a short shopping excursion. It amazes me how willing they are at times to go along on such trips. Excursions that Raymond would never join. Remains to be seen if Greyla will tag along or not.

The beginning of this two week vaca was a little rough for me and for Greyla. The day before we were leaving, I fell on my brother's concrete porch and jarred myself pretty good. I think I also managed to pick up a few germs from Nicky & Anamaria right before we left which managed to ferment and manifest the day we traveled and for a few days after we arrived. Poor Greyla is getting a little too old to make the jump from the back compartment, especially since she's used to having the entire area behind the front seats as her domain. When we have a couple extra passengers, requiring the back seats to be up in a sitting position, she gets a bit cramped. She seems back to her old self, though. She's settled into a vaca routine and is appearing quite content.

I have been walking more than I do at home. That bodes well for the future, I think. While I am not comfortable walking in our home neighborhood, the fact that the last several days I've walked between a mile and two miles encourages me that I will be more inclined to walk when I am in a place where I feel more comfortable.

While I am looking forward to getting on the road, I find myself consistently wondering if I could live somewhere in NC. While I love the mountains, I wouldn't ever want to be that far from the ocean. We've talked about living somewhere like Greenville, where East Carolina University is located. But, who knows where we will end up...

I'm more than a little concerned about our choice of motor home. The Class C with a slide seemed like the perfect fit for us and I guess time will tell. My worry is that it's too big at 30 feet. My other concern is the shape. The fact that the body of the vehicle is wider than the cab is worrisome to me. It hasn't really been a factor on the road, except for going through toll booths. Perhaps, it is just something I will become accustomed to as time goes by.

I need to let go of all the things I tend to worry about, until such time as there is need to worry, I guess. I also have to stop what my therapist referred to as "black & white thinking". I have a tendency to want to make things be this way, or that way, when in fact, most things are somewhere in the middle. Good thing I know I'm a work in progress.

Dreams

2011 October 15

Over the last few nights I sensed more than remembered working out some lingering "stuff" in my dreams. Perhaps because I am away from the day to day preparation for getting on the road, my mind is finding it easier to sort through some of the complex relationships that have been neglected in the chaos. I found myself dreaming about people from New Hope Church. I haven't retained many details, but the overall sense is that I have disappointed some whom I call my friends. Is that truth, or just a reflection of my perpetual guilt? I suppose one way to get to the root would be to talk to the people I can remember dreaming about. I am not sure either they or I can really do that, though.

There is a veil of sadness that seems to envelope my relationships with many at New Hope Church. Whether that comes from me, from them or from a combination of us, I don't really know. Perhaps both they and I felt abandoned. After all, I simply disappeared from the community and the very few folks who did reach out to me, I avoided because I couldn't find an honest way to tell the story without edging it in anger toward Rodger Woodworth. Even now, it's hard to say that the reason I left New Hope Church was because my then Pastor suggested that "perhaps it's time for you to find another church". Granted, I could've mentioned that if we were truly a church based on reconciliation, telling me to find another church because of personality differences between myself and the lead pastor was hypocritical. But, at that point I could no longer sit under a man for whom I had little respect, so I welcomed the escape. It didn't occur to me that to simply leave the fellowship without explanation would hurt me so much. Neither did it occur to me that many in the body would simply continue on without any thought as to my departure.

There were some folks who knew the whole story. They were ones whom I thought were close enough to me to be confided in without worry about gossip. Perhaps I was wrong. It seems that there may have been some sharing, but how much I don't know for sure.

All of this is moot at this point in time, I guess. I have since returned to New Hope after encouragement from one of the Elders. Rodger is no longer lead Pastor. Yet there still seems to be some unfinished business. Yet I have no clue how to address what I feel is unfinished.

So while I am away from my daily routine, my sleeping self is addressing some of this unfinished business. Each night I dream about different people and different relationships. Sometimes I remember only the people in the dreams. Other times I awake with only a general sense of what I dreamed about and an even more general feeling that my sleeping self is working out whatever needs to be addressed.

I am slowly coming to grips with the idea that life in all its aspects is fluid. Perhaps nothing lasts forever. When I initially came to New Hope, I was certain that I had come "home". And, indeed, for a while I had. Yet, the dynamic of the church changed and the change had a negative affect on me. And that's OK.

What hasn't changed is the fact that Jesus is Lord. That is the most important lesson to have taken away from this whole episode. And there are lesser examples of insights and morals uncovered as well. And as my brain works through the layers of my subconscious, I am learning to trust that all will be fine, eventually.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Thoughts on Self

2011 September 10

Jamie Roth is a Facebook friend. Today she posted this:

Jamie Roth :"Today is the day to step out of any attachment toward recovery, recovered, survivor, survived, etc etc. You don't have to connect with energy of things in your past if you don't chose to. You can be healed and whole. I have past addictions and experiences for which I "survived". But I've moved on to just being me. Here, and now, with those experiences as a part of my past. I live in the present moment of thriving. This has really become something important for me to share with people. I really believe its time for people to step away from attachments to past experiences. I understand how it can feel empowering to say things like "I'm a survivor" or "I'm a recovered..." But it's actually just keeping you attached to that energy. Instead you can just be who you are right now. For example, I do not say things like "I'm a survivor of sexual abuse". Instead I just say, "I experienced SA when I was a child" Feel the difference? It was an experience. It's in my past. It doesn't have to continue to affect me today. I'm just Jamie, really."

It is an eye opening concept for me! I am 61 years old and still have my Mom's voice in my head saying,"Oh! she has no idea WHAT she wants!" And her asking both J & K (1st & 2nd husbands) if I was pregnant when they approached my parents about marrying me, implying that the only reason anyone would marry me was if they HAD to! That feeling continued to color so much of my relationship with R (DH) when we were in the middle of infertility treatments, years ago. At one point, I actually told him that we should get divorced so that he could marry someone else, who could potentially give him children. As if our relationship had no intrinsic value, if I couldn't reproduce.

How long will I allow my Mom's voice to haunt me? I mean, I'm 61 years old! The Mom I knew has been gone from this life for 35+ years. Letting her words continue to affect me now is no longer acceptable. The time has long passed for me to erase those words and replace them with more positive ones. Yet, I am not sure how exactly to make a new soundtrack. And, maybe it wasn't just my Mom. I mean I remember people in my Dad's family saying negative things to me when I was growing up. But is that even the problem?

Maybe the problem is in my self perception. Why is it so hard for me to accept that there are people, young and old, who like me, in fact, love me? Is this a universal problem? I mean do lots and lots of "normal" people have trouble believing that they are loved/liked? Is it one of those areas that we simply don't talk about openly? Or am I just odd in this regard?

I don't know the answer. I do know that I am tired of living as if I am unworthy, undecided and unlovable. The time has come for a change. I'm not sure how change will come about at this point, but I know that it's overdue. I'm also certain that recognizing the need for change is a positive step toward making a change.

For the record, Mom, Mary E, Joe E, Marshall, Rodger, Wende, and anyone else who said negative things to me about me in the past, I'm beginning today to erase those recordings. Why should I allow you to continue to define me? The Creator of the universe loves me, who am I to argue with that?

I want to like myself. I want to love myself. I think it's about time to make a change in the soundtrack of my life.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

OOPS! (Originally titled: Some Progress)

2011 Sept 1

Last night I lost the post I had written. One of those weird computer glitches or normal human error, who knows? Probably human error, since it was the end of the day and that is more likely. Anyway, now I will attempt to remember all I wrote last night. It was a positive post, with a glimmer of insight for me. Here goes ...

The final day of August was a good one, as was the previous day. One by one, things are being accomplished.

On Tuesday my brother Dave came over to help with some items that needed to go to our sister Janet's house. First we took a heavy dresser and a console table. Since Janet was at work, we were responsible for loading, unloading and all the lugging involved. I am not as young as I used to be, out of shape, tire and sweat easily. The same can probably be said of Dave. When we left my house, the intention was to deliver these items, return home and take another dresser to her house. With this in mind, I mentioned to Raymond that it would be helpful if he could empty his dresser, but I didn't really expect him to pay any attention to my suggestion. Dave and I were sweaty and a little tired when we returned from Janet's, deciding we'd move the second dresser on Thursday when Janet was off and could assist. Imagine our surprise when we found the drawers to R's dresser in the upstairs hallway! So, another load, deliver and unload took place. Since R is on the disabled list, he did things that didn't require lots of lifting, like removing mirrors.

When we returned to the house after the second trip, Dave and I were tuckered out! As we sat drinking our iced tea and trying to recuperate, I mentioned that the last thing we needed to move was R's three orange crates of LPs. Poor Dave was flabbergasted! He had assumed we were done for the day. But since I was going to be driving Dave home and since the record albums are intended to live at the house where he lives, I was attempting to consolidate trips. This is where R flabbergasted me; he said, "I can probably get rid of a lot of those albums, if I go through them." I was speechless. Dave was grateful for the reprieve; albums are HEAVY! The reason R's announcement was so surprising is that I have been asking him (OK, maybe nagging him) for eight months to do something with all his vinyl.

Wednesday started with an early appointment, followed by stops at Target and Trader Horn for a few small needed items. When I got home, I hit the basement, while R went upstairs to sort through his albums. I managed to do a load of laundry while stuffing a couple of contractor's trash bags with stinky basement stuff. And I bagged a couple of quilts to be taken to the laundromat, since they are too large for our washer and dryer. R managed to make one "keep" crate of records and two "get rid of" crates of LPs. I am so proud of him! The keeps will live in my brother Vinny's basement for now.

One of the things I bought at Target was bubble wrap. One of the reasons I needed it was to safely encase my favorite statue, given to me for Christmas several years ago by my youngest brother, Jimmy. The statue is of a yellow Lab, rolled on his back with his hind legs akimbo, a stick in his mouth, with joy and determination on his face. We call the statue, "Bax" because it so resembles the rescued yellow Lab, Baxter, who brought us love and gratitude for the six years we lived with him. "Bax" sat on an eye-level shelf of the bookcase in our living room. I smiled every time I looked at it. Not simply because it brought back memories of a sweet, eighty pound cuddle-bug, but also because it was a most thoughtful gift from my baby brother. Jimmy has given me other thoughtful gifts, but this one brought tears to my eyes the day I received it. However, a motor home is no place for a statue with delicate, projecting limbs, so "Bax" will also live at Vinny's for now, along with a few other Lab statues that hold a special places in my heart.

The bookcases will have a new home with my friend and niece, Jennifer. They will provide a sturdy place for her children's books. That makes me glad. Our books must be removed from the bookcases today and they too, for the most part will find new homes. There is another bookcase in R's office, but he isn't ready to deal with it yet. I'm OK with that now. The situation with the albums showed me that if left to his own timetable, R, too can let things go. He simply takes a different path.

Our dining room table and chairs have found a new home, too, and may be moving this weekend, or at least, very soon. I loved that dining set when I got it. Granted they weren't the exact craftsman replica I coveted, but I envisioned big, holiday, family dinners around it. OK, so those big dinners never happened. There were some small dinners with some family and with friends. Now, it's time for the table with two leaves and six chairs to provide a space for some other family's dinners, crafts and games.

Some things are easier to give up than others. Raymond is having trouble giving up his books, just as he had trouble with his records. I am looking at it as an opportunity to buy a Nook. While there are only a few books I plan to bring with me, I love to read and usually borrow my reading materials from my local library. After a conversation with my favorite librarians at our local Wood's Run Library, I like the idea of being able to download ebooks from the library, which can be done as long as we have a local address of record. R is less enamored with tech gadgets, but I'm thinking that in time, he'll come around to eReaders. It took months, but he uses his laptop all the time, now and he loves his iPod.

So, today, I'm thinking a trip to the laundromat, bill paying, checkbook balancing and maybe, lunch with my sister. I feel that we're making slow and steady progress toward the goal. What I finally realize is that although the goal is held in common, R needs to take a different path than I do. We're not on separate paths, so much as adjoining ones. What is simple and easy for one is not necessarily easy or simple for the other. The ultimate goal is the same for both of us, so I'm just taking a deep breath and trusting that we'll get there, each in his/her own time.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Perspective

2011 August 29

I am feeling more balanced. I am sure that attending church yesterday helped. As did spending a few hours at my brother and sister-in-law's yesterday afternoon.

I am happy to say that the message brought to the people at New Hope Church yesterday was exactly what I needed to hear. The fact that it was my first time ever sitting under a female Pastor was invigorating. There was a whole level of identification available to me that I have never had with a male Pastor, regardless of how impressive his credentials, his sermons or his teaching ability. The interesting aspect for me was that her sermon actually focused on identity and our need to see ourselves through God's eyes, as HIS. That is our primary identity. And though we say we know it, too often we allow ourselves to lose sight of that as the most important way we identify who we are.

Too much of the time lately, I have felt without identity. Maybe, because I am no longer working as a care provider for those two little ones I love so much. But also because for quite sometime I have been without a spiritual home base and have allowed myself to become lazy spiritually. In addition to that, there is the fact that we are in the process of purging our stuff in order to live a simpler, less 'stuff oriented' lifestyle. Too often we become defined by what we own, instead of by who we are.

Spending time absorbing yesterday's sermon was centering for me. And spending time at B & A's in the afternoon, further helped me to see that although what we are doing may seem out of left field for some, it is the right option for us at this time in our lives. This AM, I was able to face a couple of tasks that I had been avoiding and complete them. Granted, they are small things, but they are done. I'm feeling more optimistic in general and less overwhelmed. The actual number of items on our list hasn't decreased by many, but my overall outlook has improved and that seems to be making all the difference.

Perhaps I'll even be able to make that phone call to my organizer friend soon.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

OVERLOAD

2011 August 27
Emotions at the moment red-lining for me.
This week included an earthquake rumbling, a personal moment of panic at the realization that we are about 10 weeks from our planned departure date, watching the coverage on Hurricane Irene and the straw threatening to break this camel's back, gunshots today, again in the alley next to our house.
I have been in a sort of frozen emotional state for awhile. I shared this with a couple of friends who have been in similar situations and they have assured me that eventually I will cry again. I am close right now, but afraid to really "let go", because I need to be strong and get through this life change first.
For those who don't know, we plan to hit the road in our new RV in early November and travel this marvelous area known as North America. We plan to put the house up for sale before we leave. There is still a lot to be done. And my dear husband is recuperating with a ruptured Achilles tendon, so he can't do much at the moment. Preparing for a huge life change can be stressful. And as an overly emotional individual, I have been keeping myself wrapped up pretty tightly to avoid unnecessary meltdowns. The result is, though I tear up and feel sad occasionally, I haven't actually cried in at least 2 months.
This afternoon, 11 or 12 shots rang out in the alley next to our house. I heard people running. I went into our sun porch to look out to see if I could tell what was happening. (The alley ends right along side our house when it intersects with our front street.) What I saw was a family, Mom and a few kids, one of whom was hunkered down wearing his Sponge Bob backpack. This little guy looked to be maybe 9 or 10. He was peering around the brick building across the alley from our house. As I watched, he jumped up and started to run back down the alley in the direction from which he had just come. His Mom, had a child in a stroller and maybe another kid, too. There may have been another woman with another child across the street, too, according to my husband. My impression was that the kid was watching for the shooter and had backtracked because the shooter was now at the Woodland Avenue intersection close to our end of the alley, instead of the opposite intersection, McDowell St, from where we originally heard the shots.
I went to the other room to call 911, which is why I didn't notice the family directly across the street from our house, on the other side of Stayton St. While I was on hold with 911 (ON HOLD! Can you believe it?) I began to shake a little. To be fair, I was only on hold for about 25 seconds, but still! The 911 operator took all the information I could supply, asked appropriate questions and said responders would be sent. Shortly afterward, we heard the police presence driving along all the streets we had mentioned.
I have no idea what happened, either before or after this shooting. What I do know is that the tight wrap I've had on myself is starting to fray. Although I am no longer shaking physically, I am shaking emotionally. As I type, I feel tears welling up in my eyes. I'm not ready to let them fall yet, though. What if I start to cry and can't stop?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

INERTIA

2011 Aug 25
Our plan is to get on the road, in our RV, on or around, November 7. That is just a little over 10 weeks away! Yet, here I sit, on the love seat, with my laptop open, while there is still so much to be accomplished. What in the world is wrong with me?
Yes, some things have been sold. There are items earmarked for folks that I need to deliver to them or that they need to arrange pick up for. Some things can't be given away until they are no longer needed, for example: our bed, love seat, recliner, stove and refrigerator. Yet there are many items lingering that could be gone. Lamps! We have more lamps than you can imagine. Christmas decorations! Dining room table and chairs, bookcases. Why are these things still here? Why haven't I delivered the two dressers and kitchen rack to my sister, along with the computer? Why am I sitting here typing instead of clearing and cleaning the sun porch or the basement?
Yes, I am lazy, that's a given. But it seems like it goes beyond simple laziness. Each night I head off to bed, determined that I will awake in the AM and make a dent in our crap. Yet, each morning, I arise feeling sluggish and unmotivated. I am like that road to hell. The one that's paved with good intentions.
Non-accomplishment does nothing for my self esteem. In fact, it can open the door to a downward depressive cycle. Maybe that's why I'm blogging about it. The need to face off with these feelings before they begin to run the show. Been there and done that! Do NOT wish to repeat those behaviors.
Add to the equation the fact that Raymond is currently unable to help lug, carry and move things. He sees the Ortho doc right after Labor Day. But even if he is making as miraculous a recovery as he keeps claiming, I don't see Raymond being able to carry boxes or help with the clean out until sometime after mid to late September. There is also the issue of what we each view as essential to have done before calling a real estate agent. This is an area where we are miles apart.
In my scenario, we get rid of all but the MOST essential things (see earlier portion of post). Then we begin a rigid cleaning, scrubbing, deodorizing and disinfecting campaign, which may include taking up the very old carpet from the first floor. We do not (on this we DO agree) plan to do any major work in the house. The plan has been and continues to be, to sell it, "as is". The fly in the ointment seems to be defining what we each consider to be "major" and "as is". For me it is doing the above stated cleaning, etc, along with finishing some half finished projects. For instance, there is a kitchen counter lying up against the wall in the hallway, which I think needs to be installed. There is a partially laid floor in the bathroom that needs to be finished. And I little painting in the kitchen, as well. For Raymond it is doing nothing! No, I'm not kidding; he actually said, "Well, we're selling it as is, who cares? It's not our problem, it's the problem of whoever buys the house." That was his response when I said that we would really need to do some major cleaning.
So there you have it. the summary of why I'm feeling overwhelmed and under-motivated.
In the middle of feeling all this chaos yesterday, both physically and emotionally, I sent a message to a local Facebook friend. She is a professional organizer. She was at one time, one of the owners of a local resale shop. So, I messaged her, explaining my dilemma and asking whether she was still involved with the resale store and also whether she could help me. My thinking being that if Raymond hears something from an outside third party, it may be more readily taken in than if it were just coming from me. We'll see. I haven't heard from Melanie yet . I do hope I hear from her soon.
In the meantime, I think I'll take a trash bag into the sun porch... Doing something, anything, has got to be more productive than worrying about what I haven't done yet.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Day of Excitement

2011 August 24

Yesterday was pretty exciting! In fact, it was so exciting that I almost forgot to write about it. Well, didn't forget exactly, just got so tired that I went to bed before 7:30 PM. Don't judge me! Apparently earthquakes can really suck the energy out of a person. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it.)

The day started off with a visit to my Urologist for my regular three month cystoscopy. Dr. T saw no new tumors! YEA!!!! And double YEA, since that means that I get bumped up to every six month cystoscopes now. I forgot to ask him how long I have to be tumor free to get bumped to once yearly, but I'll ask him when I see him in six months! Curious too to find out how long I must remain tumor free to be considered cancer free.

After the doc, I picked up my brother and we had a late breakfast together. That was nice. One of the things I will miss when we're traveling is those occasional breakfasts with Vinny. Is it odd that one of my brother's is my best friend? Well, even if it is, I don't really care. He's one of only a few people whom I know I can always count on.

When I dropped him off, our Daddy snoozing on the front porch so I just headed home.

I hadn't been home very long, when there was a shaking of our whole house. Truth be told, I was in the bathroom and thought I was hallucinating at first. The bathroom window seemed to be moving in and out. I also had a strange butterflies - in - my - stomach feeling, as if we were moving up and down in an elevator. As I ran down the stairs to the first floor, yelling, "Raymond, did you feel that?" I was pretty sure it had been an earthquake.

Now, I have heard about animals who react prior to such occurrences. Let me assure you, Greyla is not one of those wonder dogs! Before I had ventured to the second floor, I had been on the front porch, reading the newspaper. Greyla was stretched out on the glider. She did not move from her spot, neither to accompany me indoors, nor, apparently as a result of any rocking and shaking the house did. I looked out to find her still in her recumbent position on the porch glider, oblivious to any earth movement. I find it a little odd that a dog who goes on alert at the sound of people talking a block away, has no apparent reaction to the rumbling of the earth. Oh well, she IS an enigma.

Since we wanted confirmation of what we assumed to be an earthquake, I went immediately to the Internet. Doesn't everyone? Sure enough, at http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsus/ I was able to get the scoop and was amazed that it was felt as far north as New England.

All in all, the day must have taken a lot out of me, because at 7:15, I headed to off bed. Did that earthquake sap anyone else's energy? Maybe it was just a coincidence, although I don't believe in coincidences.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

"We're Not Lumberjacks..."

2011 August 14

The first clue that we are not lumberjacks, should have been the fact that we do not own a chainsaw. We do, however, own a reciprocating saw which we use like it's a chainsaw!

Raymond was determined to remove a large branch from the maple tree which grows next to the spot where we park our RV. He had already removed an offending portion of the branch when it proved to be too close to the ladder on the RV. Now, he was simply making sure no part of this tree limb ever came in contact with our home on wheels again.

I had just driven us home from our first weekend camping in the RV and went in the house to have an iced tea and a little rest while Raymond plied his skills as a tree limb amputater. Raymond assured me that it would take him "about 30 minutes" to trim off what he felt was necessary. After about an hour, I thought I should see if I could help in any way.

The offending branch was very long and very thick. I took a turn at trimming some of the lesser branches, so Raymond could take a little break. This was a much bigger job than either of us anticipated. But, we kept at it. Little by little, we were piling up a whole lot of maple tree in our yard and there was still a lot to go!

Eventually, we had managed to trim away many of the smaller branches and were left staring up at the main branch which needed to come down, according to my dear husband. The problem was that the branch was very tall and very thick. The branch was going to be taken down in increments, because otherwise it would simply be too heavy. We put all of our skills to use and attempted to predict which way the top portion of the branch would fall. Then Raymond took his turn climbing the ladder, but he wasn't happy with its placement, so he came down, repositioned it and scaled it again. It was a humid day and we were hot and sticky. In spite of that we were trying to hold on to all the good feelings we had from our successes during our first weekend away in the RV.

Raymond was concerned that the branch might fall onto our fence, while I was certain it would fall onto the cement area where our garage used to be. We were both wrong!

Raymond was standing on the eight foot ladder, about five feet off the ground. I was attempting to hold the ladder steady, directly behind him, but on the ground. When the branch fell, it came straight down, just to the left of Raymond. It grazed his arm and then continued downward until it hit the support brace on the side of the ladder. It was so heavy, that it broke the support brace. As the support broke, the ladder toppled to the right, causing Raymond to drop in the opposite direction. It all happened so fast. Suddenly, the ladder was laying on it's side off to my right and my husband was laying on his side off to my left. As I began to step toward Raymond, something told me to look where I was stepping. It was that still, small voice that kept me from walking directly onto the saw blade. Raymond had locked it in the "on" position and it was still going! My first thought as I reached out to Raymond was that he had dislocated his left shoulder this time, because it looked like he had landed on his shoulder. But, he said that the pain he was experiencing was in his left leg. Let me just say that Raymond is usually very accurate in self-diagnosing injuries. Probably all the years he spent playing various sports and having all sorts of sports related injuries have given him a pretty good basis for recognizing what part of him is hurt and how badly. This time, as he tried to stand, he said, "I ruptured my Achilles tendon."

We took a trip to the ER, where I left him, while I went to see if any of my brothers could help me finish the task Raymond and I had started. This was the only way I could get Raymond to go to the ER. He wanted to finish removing the tree limbs from the parking pad, so that we could pull the RV into the yard. He was concerned that if we left the RV in the parking lot, someone might vandalize it. I promised him, that while he was at the ER, my brothers and I would clean up the tree cuttings and pull the RV into the yard. And when that was accomplished, I would come back to the hospital to get him.

Thank goodness for Vinny and Davey. They came over, got blistered hands, sweaty bodies and sore muscles, but that branch surrendered! We got the part that Raymond had cut cleared away and then finished cutting the remainder of it. Then, with them guiding me, the RV got backed into the yard without any new damage!

I dropped my brothers off at their house and headed back to St Margaret's ER to check on Raymond's status. He was in an exam room, waiting for the CRNP to return. He was accurate in his diagnosis, the ER doc confirmed that he did indeed have a ruptured Achilles tendon. He came home with a hard boot/cast on his left foot and leg, crutches, a prescription for pain killers and instructions to call the orthopedic group in the morning and to keep his left leg non-weight bearing. The CRNP suggested that he shouldn't climb stairs and should stay in bed, with his leg elevated, except for bathroom trips until he could see the orthopedic doctor. Yeah, right!

I love my husband, but he is not a compliant patient. Thank goodness he only had to wait until Tuesday morning to see the doctor.

In spite of the fact that it is a ruptured tendon, the doctor and Raymond have decided to go with the more conservative treatment. No surgery. Raymond is wearing a lovely black boot with an slightly elevated heel and major support from his toes to his knee. He will be wearing it for at least four to six weeks, possibly longer. The good news is that he is permitted to weight bear slightly, as long as the device is properly in place and he is getting better using his crutches.

And the lesson learned? We are NOT lumberjacks!