Full Heart Friday

Gratitude for a great new job and a bit of writerly recognition…

The email came on a break from the all-day training seminar that closed out my first week at my fantastic new job: my essay, Imperfection, is up on Ruminate Magazine‘s blog, The Waking. I felt a flash of nerves, then clicked on the link and re-read it, and felt – not so much pride as a grateful sense of satisfaction. There, I did it. My work has been published. Again.

I spent the rest of the break telling all the amazingly welcoming, kind, fun, brilliant and interesting coworkers who checked in with me to see how I was doing how welcoming, kind, fun, brilliant and interesting they are.  It was an amazing first week, and before the end of it I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this was the best workplace I’ve ever been invited to be a part of, and the best job I had ever been lucky enough to be offered and to accept.

And on top of all that, I got a pingback from a blog I follow, “Confessions of Middle Aged Woman” who gave my post, “Hired” some props, in a happy, slightly freaked-out post of her own, along the same lines.  So I’ve had a kind of “it doesn’t get better than this” kind of week. Had to stop at the grocery store on the way home, and I noticed myself thinking, “here I am, an employed person squeezing in a trip to the store after a great week at work.” For a long time I’d been envious of those nicely dressed people, obviously tired and preoccupied, who were stopping to do a quick errand before they could get home and unwind. Not really something to be jealous of, unless you’ve been out of that world for quite a while when you really needed to be in it. And you know that being back in it will be good for you, and for your family. That felt good.

Sure, there were a few bumps – arrangements for Angelic Daughter aren’t sufficiently settled, but we’re muddling through, and just when I was at my wit’s end about it, a few other possibilities arose.

I’m exhilarated, exhausted and excited, all at once. Still trying to establish a new routine, but it’s getting done. One thing I know I’ll have to do is abandon my “800 Words” game, at least for a while, because I’ll have to squeeze blogging in to an hour or so after dinner on Fridays or Saturdays – might have to write a week’s worth and schedule them to post, because between getting up at 5:30 a.m. and prepping everything and hitting the road by 6:40, I won’t have a lot of time. I’ve been averaging about 4 hours of sleep a night this week, not sure why. Just waking up at 3 or 3:30 and unable to get back to zzzzzzzz.

Things will settle, I’m sure. Handy brother came on short notice to help out today. Prearranged unpaid absence to wait for the new downstairs bathroom vanity countertop, and rescheduled, routine if unpleasant medical testing will be got out of the way next week, and then it’s full on until the holidays.

Early this morning on my new commute, the full (or nearly still full) moon was still well up in the morning sky, after putting on a lovely glow the past few nights. I find moonilght soothing, and the un-set moon in the morning sky reassuring.  Faith got me through to this point, and I’m counting on it to get me to the day when our new normal becomes – normal.

I’m going to go have “music time” with angelic daughter and then drag myself upstairs to wind down, for the start of the first weekend that really feels like a weekend, where tasks and errands need to get done in two days, instead of just whenever in a long line of days after days. A weekend that will be for what it is supposed to be for, resting, spending time with family and then preparing for Monday, when I will get that exhilarating feeling of going back to work for my first full week on the fabulous new job.

Oh, and if you read my essay, don’t worry about me – one thing I know about this job is that is isn’t going to make me feel anxious. Or if it does, I have strategies to handle that. Compartments. Gratitude. Support.

Well, there I did it anyway – almost up to 800 words.  Looking forward to my new schedule and my new routine, I remain,

Your grateful, excited, exhausted, not going to drag it out just to get all the way to 800 words,

Ridiculouswoman

Featured image by stux on Pixabay

Autumn Reprise

A repeat of a gorgeous fall day, and another first day of school…

Well, lookit you, November. Didn’t know you had it in ya. Very nicely done.

That slant of afternoon light is there, the bright blue of the sky and a blanket of gold on the lawn from leaves brought down by the weight of snow, now melted. My phone’s camera just can’t do it justice.

I got the fire started, and the S’mores made. Lit the Jack-o-Lanters for a few extra nights, until they took their place in the new compost heap that used to be the chicken run.

Mine is the only lawn on the block still covered with leaves, but I don’t care. The lawn guy suddenly seems to expect me to pay him in advance, before any work is done for the month.  Electric mowers are getting cheaper, and I had fun raking up a few bags of leaves to start the chicken-run compost. So maybe I’ll just handle it myself next year.

Angelic Daughter and I are gearing up for big changes; my going back to work full-time will mean she has to step up, step out and deal with new transportation, new people and new activities. I’ve been amazed and grateful and what a positive attitude she’s shown about it.

Anytime we have to change something that affects how she lives, what she does, where she goes and with whom she spends her time, it rattles me to the core. But I’ve got to suck it up and trust her. And trust God, who seems to keep throwing just what we need in our path just when we need it.

It’s concert week, and the choir I sing with is doing some incredibly beautiful, comforting music.  When the sound melds into one from out of the many and becomes a thing in itself, a perfect merger of text and music that swells or hushes with the promise of “lux aeterna” or the plea of “dona eis requiem,” I still get goosebumps.

I thought I’d be scrambling, but within the past two weeks everything came together to make sure Angelic Daughter has a companion while I’m at the rehearsals and performances we didn’t have covered yet, and even that she will be able to attend the concert. I can function when I know she is safe and well cared for.

Which is why this going back to work thing, as necessary and welcome as it is, still feels daunting. This has to work this time – I just can’t be interrupted with phone calls or texts constantly (while I simultaneously worry about why I’m not being interrupted with phone calls or texts constantly).

If you’re a parent you’ll never forget the first day of school, that autumn when you had to turn around and go, leaving your child in kindergarten. Maybe yours took it in stride (as did Angelic Daughter) but it didn’t stop the tears from forming, even if you were trying to hide them.

Fast forward through twenty years, and imagine having that experience over and over again, with each change of teacher, aide, school building or enrichment program. Will she be safe? Will she be happy? Will they understand her? Will she get any benefit out of this?

And now it’s happening again.

I’m counting on deep breathing, the kindness of people in our (relatively) small community, and help that keeps showing up unexpectedly, right on time.

So I’ll pack lunches the night before, (who am I kidding, I’ll do it in a mad rush in the morning) like I used to do. I’ll make laminated schedules and 3″ x 5″ card reminders and tape them to doors and put them in purses; I’ll add a few additional emergency contacts to her phone while also trying to teach her not to bother them unless it is a real emergency.

Tomorrow we find out if we’re set with the new program she tried out today, to fill her most of her day when I’m at work. I can’t imagine they won’t take her. She liked it and seemed really happy. I hope they don’t pull that rug, and leave us scrambling again.

Breathe.

I don’t want the lawn guys to come, yet. I want to savor this day, with the golden blanket of leaves, that remind me that beauty can come even when you thought the chance had passed.

I’m looking out the window through that gorgeous slant of sunlight, at the new chicken run compost heap with the Jack-o-Lanterns half buried in leaves, thinking about phases of life and how things that pass can transform into things that nourish the future.

Hoping I’ll catch the lawn guys when they do come, to ask them to empty the leaves and grass clippings into the chicken run compost, I remain,

Your happy, hopeful and still anxious as usual,

Ridiculouswoman

Sic Transit Gloria

“to love that well which thou must leave ere long…”

Sunday, October 27, would have been Mike’s  58th birthday.  It was a perfect, bright blue fall day,  trees like those above, in full autumn glory.

Here’s a picture from today, four days later:

IMG_20191031_143942791.jpg

One week ago:

IMG_20191024_102731260~2.jpg

Today:

IMG_20191031_085642038.jpg

October’s beauty is bittersweet: it can’t last. This year we waited through rain and clouds most of the month until a sudden burst of clear skies and blazing color in the last ten days or so. I’ve learned that, except for treating Angelic Daughter to trail rides at stables we only get to once or twice a year, leaf-peeping isn’t a good reason for our  “fall excursions.” The colors are always more beautiful at back at home.

Yet something has felt off-kilter about this year’s weather, from polar vortex to spring monsoons, to a bone-dry August and then a sodden September. Everything has been more of whatever it is than usual. Colder, wetter, drier, cloudier.  We had very few sparkling clear nights, all year. The crystal black, star-sparkling nights are one of the things I look forward to about winter. I hope that hasn’t changed for good.

Today it feels like someone sped up the film (a terrible idea, and yes, I’m looking at you, Netflix). I’m carving pumpkins when I could be building a snowman. Did someone steal Richard Hendricks’ compression algorithm (Silicon Valley)  and apply it to the turn of the seasons?

We’ve had snow on Halloween before, but not like this, that I can remember. Usually, rotten Halloween weather is cold and rainy, with maybe a few fat flakes that don’t stick. But out my window now are 3-4 inches of heavy, sticky wet snow, causing branches to sag and completely covering the yard.  It’s not cold enough for snow to stick to the driveway or the walk, but there is enough to discourage any but the most intrepid, determined trick-or-treaters. We’ve had none, and the sanctioned window for ringing doorbells is closing. I foresee a night of appallingly self-indulgent over-consumption of uncollected chocolate -followed by a 30 minute full-body dumbbell burner guilt workout tomorrow morning.

There really is nothing spooky or eerie or creepy or Halloweenish about snow.  I lit the Jack-o-Lanterns anyway, but I’m not really feeling the “door between worlds” effect. Angelic Daughter wants S’mores, and snow makes a great backdrop to initiate the fireplace for the season. If I can get a fire started, that is, because it was windy, and the logs in the small wood rack on the front porch got coated in an inch or so of snow.  I foresee an expletive-filled evening and the waste of an entire box of matches.  But I’ll get it going.

Snow will melt off tomorrow, but the glory that is October is done and gone. Smores made indoors in the fireplace won’t capture the crisp, outdoor, sweatery October feeling that Angelic Daughter used to get on an annual school trip to a pumpkin farm, but they will have to do.  Each year the autumn flare seems more fleeting than the last. But that’s what makes it glorious, I guess.

I finally sold Mike’s kitchen table, on his birthday. Got ten bucks for it on eBay. The guy who bought it drove an hour to pick it up. I was almost going to give up and donate it somewhere, but I’m glad I got at least something for it. kitchen tableThat table was the only material thing, other than books, clothes and a hurricane lamp, that Mike brought with him into our marriage. The guy who bought it asked how long I had it – “27 years” – and acknowledged that it must carry a lot of memories. I did.

Letting go of  27 years worth of memories on Mike’s birthday,  the 27th, is something he would have gotten a kick out of, I think, or at least appreciated the symmetry of it.

We have a new dining room table now,  but today I put on Mike’s old grey sweater, the one with the growing holes in it that I wear when shoveling or otherwise dealing with outdoor maintenance in cold weather, and smiled. IMG_20180831_135250.jpgHere’s to you, loves, one season passed and another beginning, wrapped in something that once wrapped you with warmth, and now wraps me in memories.

We hoped that Mike could make it to an October day like last Sunday, to see the blue sky and blaze of  leaves as he departed this world for the next. Instead, he died on a sweltering August night.  “This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong, to love that well, which thou must leave ere long.”

Tomorrow begins gray November, the ghost of October’s colors whispering only in the gourds and Indian corn of a Thanksgiving to come.

Blowing out the candles in the Jack-o-Lanterns and off to make the fire, I remain,

Ridiculouswoman

Hired

The anxiety and the ecstasy of getting the job.

Featured Image by TeroVesalainen from Pixabay

The other shoe has dropped: I got a job. I GOT A JOB. Not just any job, either – it’s a writing job. Full time, with benefits starting the exact day I must have them. I start mid-November. And the best part about it is that I’m not anxious about it at all. I know I can do it well and I won’t get all squirmy about it. A little of that is inevitable, of course, as it would be with any new job.  But I’ve signed the offer letter accepting the job and I have enough to do before I start that I don’t think I’ll spend any time worrying about the myriad ways I could imagine screwing it up.

Because I’m not going to screw it up. As God is my witness, I’m not going to screw this up. If I can avoid it. And if I can stop worrying about screwing it up over something I didn’t realize would screw it up. OK ENOUGH, Annie. YOU GOT IT. THEY WANT YOU (Note impressive self-restraint in not going the Sally Field quote route, here).

I wrote the below about 10 minutes after the call offering me the job. As you can see I was a bit excited. I still am, I’m just not going to scream at you in ALL CAPS. But reading it through it was kind of funny so I thought I’d go ahead and inflict it on you.

So here’s my brain on “holy crap I actually got a job I’m going to like that pays a living wage!”

I GOT THE OFFER AND THEY BUMPED UP THE PAY RATE SO IT WILL ACTUALLY BE WORTH THE COMMUTE I GOT THE JOB I GOT THE JOB I GOT THE JOB THANKS FOR ALL YOUR GOOD VIBES SORRY TO SCREAM AT YOU IN ALL CAPS BUT I’M SO EXCITED BECAUSE I’M ACTUALLY GOING TO LIKE THIS JOB IT WILL BE FUN IT IS WRITING AND I WILL GET PAID FOR WRITING HOLY CRAP WITH HEALTH INSURANCE AND EVERYTHING GOD IS GREAT FAITH WORKS HANG ON GOOD THINGS WILL COME OMG OMG OMG NOW I HAVE TO HIRE SOMEONE AS A COMPANION FOR ANGELIC DAUGHTER BUT WE CAN HANDLE IT OMG OMG OMG AN ACTUAL JOB WRITING WRITING WOWEE ZOWEE AND ON TOP OF THAT ONE OF MY LIFE’S AMBITIONS JUST CAME TRUE OF HOSTING A FAMILY MEAL IN THIS HOUSE I’VE SPENT SO MUCH MONEY AND ENERGY ON MY BROTHERS AND ONE OF MY SISTERS-IN-LAW CAME AND WE HAD SUCH A FUN MEAL IT WASN’T LONG ENOUGH AND I WAS RUSHED MAKING THE SOUP AND OH BY THE WAY I DID MAKE THE SOUP HERE’S A PICTURE IMG_20191022_141943840~2.jpg AND NOT EXACTLY PIE BECAUSE I DIDN’T HAVE  TIME FOR THE CRUST SO I MADE A FRENCH FRUIT TART CRUST WHICH WAS OK BUT NOT MY BEST IMG_20191022_141935304~2.jpgAND I BROWNED THE ONIONS IN THE SQUASH SOUP BUT THE BURNT-ISH FLAVOR WAS ALMOST COVERED UP BY SOME EXTRA APPLE JUICE AND BROWN SUGAR AND THEY SAID THEY LIKED IT BUT EVEN IF THEY WERE LYING I DON’T CARE BECAUSE THIS HAS BEEN A SPECTACULAR DAY EVEN THOUGH IT IS COLD AND WINDY I DON’T CARE MY GOD I ACTUALLY GOT A JOB OFFER AND BESIDES THAT ONE OF MY CNF ESSAYS HAS BEEN ACCEPTED IT’S A BLOG BUT IT IS A BLOG ASSOCIATED WITH A MAGAZINE AND IT MEANS SOMEONE WHO KNOWS ABOUT WRITING THINKS I CAN ACTUALLY WRITE THIS IS AMAZING WHAT DO I DO WHAT DO I DO AM I SUPPOSED TO POST A GIF LIKE THIS

OR MAYBE THIS

THAT REMINDS ME I’VE NEVER SEEN THOSE MINIONS MOVIES I SHOULD WATCH THOSE ANGELIC DAUGHTER WANTS POPCORN SO MAYBE WE CAN HAVE MOVIE NIGHT OMG OMG OMG A WRITING JOB WITH HEALTH INSURANCE I HOPE I DON’T HAVE A HEART ATTACK WITH JOY BEFORE I EVEN START BRING IT I CAN DO IT I CAN WRITE ANYTHING TO ORDER LIKE FALLING OFF A LOG THIS IS SO AWESOME I’M JUMPING OUT OF MY SKIN WHAT DO I DO NOW I HAVE TO WAIT FOR AN EMAIL TO SIGN OFF ON THE OFFER WHICH MEANS I REALLY SHOULDN’T BE CROWING ABOUT THIS SO MUCH IN CASE I JINX IT BUT LIVE WITHOUT FEAR I GOT IT I GOT IT I GOT IT I WILL BE AN EMPLOYED PERSON AT A JOB I ACTUALLY WILL LOVE WITH ENERGETIC FUN PEOPLE WHO LOVE WHAT THEY DO IT DOESN’T GET BETTER THAN THIS OR MAYBE IT DOES KEEP DREAMING KEEP BELIEVING MAYBE GOOD THINGS WILL KEEP HAPPENING OK ANNIE DON’T GET GREEDY JUST BE GRATEFUL GRATEFUL GRATEFUL I AM I AM I AM WHOOP WHOOP THIS IS AWESOME

Trying to resume decorum, I remain,

Your newly hired,

Ridiculouswoman

Validation Celebration

Acceptance brings joy and anxiety. Trying to stick to joy.

Those of  you who follow me on Twitter (@ridiculouswidow) already know this, but I wanted to let blog readers know that a piece of mine called “Imperfection”  has been accepted by Ruminate Magazine’s blog, The Waking, and is tentatively scheduled to appear on November 14. My Submittable scoreboard stands at one acceptance (that one), one rejection (of a piece I intend to submit elsewhere and keep trying) and one “received” that hasn’t turned into an “in-progress” yet, but I think it should soon, since it is for a December issue.

Big shout out to RomComDojo‘s Maggie Dove, the Mother-Goddess of my budding attempts to get published and build my “platform,” without whom I would not have known about Submittable and the opportunities listed there. Read everything she writes. She is awesome. And hilarious. And frequently pissed off, sometimes tragically, but usually in a tragicomic way.

This will be the second time my work has appeared on a blog other than my own, which is giving me the idea that I can actually think of myself as a writer, and the motivation to keep writing.

Receiving an acceptance reminded me of a charming, quirky TV show from the ’90s called “Northern Exposure,” about a young doctor who (reluctantly, initially) serves a small Alaskan town, and the characters that inhabit that town. I loved that show. There was one episode that was particularly memorable for me, focused on the character Ed, a young Native American/First Nations man, who is pursued by a Little Green Man who presented Ed with various psychological demons (Season 5, Episode 8, couldn’t find a video). Little Green Man famously says,

“Ed, you’re dealing with the demon of external validation. You can’t beat external validation. You want to know why? Because it feels sooo good.”

(Northern Exposure, Season 5 Quotes. Quotes.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 25 Oct. 2019). (Scroll down).

Truer words were never spoken.

Ruminate Magazine and its blog, The Waking, are about “cheering on life, faith and art.” They provide a “contemplative and imaginative space” to slow down, “for people feeling overwhelmed by life’s frantic pace.” The piece they accepted is highly personal, and it is the first submission of  mine through Submittable that earned acceptance. When I found out, I was ecstatic – I’M A WRITER! I’M A WRITER! – and then, predictably, freaked out, because this essay exposes even more of my flaw-filled self than I have exposed to you here. But I started writing again because I was determined not to be ruled by fear anymore, even if living up to that is often a battle. When Mike died, I decided I would try to really live – both as a way to honor his courage and because his brave path showed me how fragile, ethereal and brief life can be. It would be crazy to carry on as usual, mired in routine, without being “awake,” to use Ruminate’s word, to the beauty of the world and the people all around me, and even in myself, with my talents and my many flaws, and to be grateful for them, and to find joy in life, even with, or despite, its brokenness.

So On November 14, I’ll be breathing deeply and staying as calm as possible until (and after) the piece appears, and I’ll share the link, and we’ll see where I go from there.

I have other good new to share but I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop on that one so until I’m really, really sure it is tied up in a bow I can’t tell you now, but I’ll tell you as soon as I can.  Don’t mean to be a tease – I’m anxious about it, but I didn’t see a reason to wait on this announcement about progress in my fledgling writing “career.”

Until then, I remain,

Your grateful, humbled, anxious but breathing deeply,

Ridiculouswoman

Photo from Pixabay but I lost the link to the (not required, but I like to give credit where credit is due) attribution – will post if I can find it again.

The Family Table

The food itself wasn’t the point.

The library-dining room has been initiated by two brothers and a sister-in-law. There is finally a table where one should have been all these years.  For twenty years, there was nothing in the middle of the room. Just a rug. Chairs in the corners – a glider by the window, armchair by the bookcase, rocker in front.  I’ve tiled over the old linoleum that was on the top of the drawers and under the shelves in the built-in bookcase so we can use it as a sideboard. The peel-and-stick metal tile reminds me of a chessboard, in memory of Mike. IMG_20191023_174851963~2.jpgThere’s a new light fixture, replacing the hideous 1970’s wicker circle thing that I hated so much I didn’t care when I smeared ceiling paint all over it.

I stayed up until 2 a.m. Tuesday morning painting the backs of the doors in the front hall, to finish it before the brothers arrived.IMG_20191023_180149358.jpg I love how it turned out, even though I should probably touch up the smeary places and the parts of the professionally painted trim I marred with smears of grey.  But it’s done and that makes me happy.

I had a lot less time to cook than I thought I’d have. The soup turned out more like squash puree.  IMG_20191022_141943840~2.jpgI forgot to add the curry to the onions while they sauteed, and I scorched them a little while I was peeling apples.  I added apple juice to the soup and threw in some brown sugar to deal with a bitter taste probably caused by the scorched onions. My brothers deflected my apologies, but did say the soup was a little sweet. The chicken soup was scummier than usual. Maybe because I used a yellow onion instead of a white one? Or I boiled it too long before skimming it?

I didn’t have time to chill and roll out dough for pie, so I used a recipe where you pat the dough into the pan. I didn’t realize until after I’d patted all of the dough in that there was enough for two pies.  The apples didn’t break down as much as I had hoped.IMG_20191022_141935304~2.jpg It turned out to be more of a scorched-thick-crust apple tart.  My brothers said, “who ever says no to apple pie?” and ate some anyway.

Oh well. The food wasn’t really the point. Having members of my family beyond just the two, formerly the three, of us, around a table in this house was the point.

By the time Angelic Daughter was about 9 years old, Mike had cut off all association with his family. He had already stopped seeing mine. From then on, we led an insular life, just the three of us. We never had family over. We never had anyone over.

I have always loved big family meals. All through my childhood and adolescence we had Sunday dinner almost every week, formally, in the dining room, in the middle of the afternoon.  Someone would go pick up Grandpa, or our uncle would come or for a while some cousins who lived close by would come. Even if none of those relatives could come,  there were still five of us.  Not having that for so many years hurt. I felt like Angelic Daughter had been cheated of something, although I don’t think she felt that way – she doesn’t like crowds or noise much, and seems okay with Sunday dinners with just me, now. But I’m not OK with it.

One of the reasons I worked to finish and furnish this house after Mike died was so I could finally have a meal with members of my family, in this house. The week we moved in, my Dad had a massive stroke. He came over once after that, but stepping up a step to enter the kitchen was difficult for him, and I’m not sure he even knew where he was, but he liked watching the Christmas train go around in circles.

Mom never came for a meal, and I never asked her back after the time I proudly showed her how I had arranged the master bedroom with what furniture we had, and she sniffed and said, “pathetic, ” which was a criticism of Mike. She thought the sparseness of our home was Mike’s fault, for being a stay-at-home-Dad, instead of getting a “breadwinner” job.  She never apologized for her open, constantly displayed contempt toward Mike. She just complained that he wouldn’t come over.  She seemed to think that as my husband, he was required to subject himself to her scorn. If he wouldn’t turn into who she wanted him to be, he was supposed to let her make him suffer for it.

Not anymore.  Brothers and sisters-in-law now welcome.  Here, have some squash goop and “pie.”

Heating up leftovers, I remain,

Your better-luck-cooking-next-time-but-it-was-great-to-have-the-brothers-over-yes-I-cried-a-little,

Ridiculouswoman

Run Away, Run Home, Don’t Run

My project-filled year of grief avoidance is almost over.

The butternut squash is roasting in the oven, for the curried soup I will make for my brothers and sister-in-law, visiting tomorrow. The bag of orchard-bought Macintosh apples is in the fridge, waiting to become pie. Seven pumpkins (one big and six little) and ten gourds cost $24, total, which is another benefit of driving several hours to an actual farm to buy your fall decorative stuff.

I wonder if indulging in an extended (two overnight stays) fall excursion this year was a way of running away from waiting to hear about a job, and from the approaching end of my year-long redecorating project.  I’m starting to think it all was just prolonged “displacement activity,” to avoid being still and letting the grief soak all the way through.  Stillness is when the waves come, of grief, sadness, regret, anger, frustration and sense of incompleteness about a marriage that fast-forwarded to caregiving, skipping the “happy retirement rediscover one another” phase.  The rediscovery came only in those bittersweet, final weeks of hospice. I was and am so grateful for that, but I also feel cheated by the brevity of it, and feeling cheated makes me feel ungrateful, and feeling ungrateful makes me feel ashamed.  I should be grateful for just waking up alive in the morning.

Finally decorating and furnishing this house, a house that remained largely undecorated and unfurnished, except for hand-me-down furniture and the odd Black Friday deal on a couch or a glider or a new mattress, feels like closing the circle, doing the things we didn’t get done, as the years passed toward a future together that never came. Mike saw the kitchen, the deck and the basement. I want to believe he sees the rest, from where he is, and that he likes it, and that he approves of me making this house look like what I had hoped it could have been when we still had time here together.

The painters in the front hall got the wallpaper off in about half an hour.

“If I had known it would be that easy, I would have done it myself.”

“We’re pros. We make it look easy.”

Their van said “drywall,” so I asked for a little extra help repairing the hole in the downstairs bathroom wall, where I lifted one of the mirrors off and took one of the screw anchors with it.

The head guy agreed to do it for no extra charge. Maybe he thought what I had said meant I thought I wasn’t getting my money’s worth. I didn’t mean it that way, exactly. Just that I shouldn’t have spent the money if it turned out to be easy.

But then he took out all the old screws, and drilled four new holes and put new screw anchors and screws in, and patched the old holes, because nothing would have held through a patched hole.  And then they hung up the mirrors for me.

After I asked them to turn off the fans they were using to dry the front hall because the loud sound makes my daughter nervous, and they saw how I had to coax her downstairs to get past them to go to work, they asked me if I had paint for the front hall.  When I handed the can to the lead guy, he said he’d paint it for me.

“Really? You’ll make me cry.”

“Do you have paint for the trim?”

“Here it is. ”

“I’ll do the walls. You do the trim.”

Then he left and his guy did the trim anyway.

So yes, I cried a little.  I’m at the end of my rope with the work, and close to being done, and feeling stupid for spending so much on it all, and now these guys have gotten me closer to the finish line faster than I thought I could go.  I won’t be up until 2 am after chorus rehearsal tonight doing it myself, just to get it ready for my brothers and sister-in-law tomorrow.

When I feel defeated, like when that screw anchor ripped out of the wall,  I let go. Then kindness comes from unexpected places, helping me keep the faith that maybe I will actually get a job before I run out of money and have to start dipping into the already too-small retirement fund.

Sell more stuff on eBay,  lose the the cable, scour the house for more stuff to sell to Half Priced Books. We’ll have this house, for now, and this town, so familiar and comfortable.

The colors are more brilliant here than they were on our excursion. Yesterday we finally got our bright blue October day, and the sun just came out again.

Time to make soup. And pie.

Until pictures prove I actually made them, I remain,

Your grateful-but-spendy-and-anxious-but-hopeful,

Ridiculouswoman