Sunday, November 24, 2013

Ah, diversity!

I've blogged a few times about my preference for diversity in the people around me. During weekdays I mostly see other retirees when I walk in the morning (they're walking their dogs then, but the still-working people aren't around) or swim at the local recreation center. And around here in the winter, the kids go indoors before dark, so I don't see much of them.

I had a couple of encouraging experiences recently. One day last week I had coffee in the morning at Starbucks with a friend. She is younger than I, with two teenagers, but we always have lots to talk about, and we meet for coffee every couple of months. This time she had a major health concern that she'd just found out about. For two hours I sat and listened as she vented and planned and cried. I was one of the first people she'd told, she said.

That same afternoon I met another friend for coffee at a different Starbucks. She has three small children and she talked to me about why she is divorcing her husband. I could tell she had done all she could to salvage the relationship but felt like she had no choice but to leave. I watched her as she talked about her options, feeling sad for the difficulties I know she'll have, but admiring her courage.

And that night I got a call from my nine-months-pregnant neighbor. Would I go for a walk with her? She hoped the exercise would start her labor. We walked for an hour and a half in the darkness, talking and hoping. (It was another ten days before she had her baby; I held Elsa Rayne for the first time just this afternoon.)

All three of these women are friends of my heart, though I am a generation older than they are.  Maybe it means I'm vital and interesting to other people.

Then, this past weekend, I flew to Oregon for the funeral of my ex-husband's brother, who passed away suddenly at 62. It's been nearly 30 years since that marriage ended, but I knew many of the people - all the siblings came, some of the cousins, some of the nieces and nephews including my two sons. As my current husband commented, I'm an "outlaw", but I knew all the siblings when they were teenagers or younger, and now that they're all middle aged I can still have conversations with them. They seemed glad to see me, and three people invited me to attend the next family reunion! It was good to be supportive of the grieving family, and to have my own fond thoughts of my deceased brother-in-law. He was a good husband and father and brother, and he will be missed.

It's times like this when my place in the community is affirmed. I love being part of the wider world.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The man is evolving

My husband Art has had a hip replacement, a knee replacement, two surgeries on his shoulders and one on his thumb. The recuperation for each of these required my help, which he did not want. And each cold or flu or bout of muscle soreness after working too long in the yard (he's 70, after all, not 35), is an ordeal he wants to suffer on his own. He wants me to leave him alone. Ignore him, if you will - but not really.

I, on the other hand, want sympathy and support and a listening ear when I am under the weather in some way physically or mentally or emotionally.

Up until last week, neither of us had been very successful at giving the other person what they need in such circumstances.

But Art is evolving.

I was scheduled for a screening colonoscopy for last Wednesday. The prep required two days of a low-fiber diet, one day of clear liquids only followed, in the evening, by the enchanting laxative experience, and then the morning procedure. During these four days I curtailed my activities as necessary and stayed fairly close to home. I noticed that Art was around a lot also, rather than being out and about as he usually is. He bought me white bread and apple juice and fixed low-fiber meals. He read in the living room or worked around the house on the day of my liquid diet, and he was available to listen when I needed to complain. He drove me to the medical clinic, got a flu shot while I was having my procedure (perfect outcome, "see you again in ten years"), brought me home and napped with me in the afternoon, even skipping an afternoon Creative Retirement Institute class on the history of intelligence and spying in the U.S.

In other words, he gave me sympathy and support and a listening ear. Exactly what I needed.

On Wednesday evening I gave him a hug and thanked him very much for being there for me. He said, "I knew that was what you wanted, and that is what you do for me - even though I hate it."

I had coffee with his niece Colleen on Thursday morning and told her about the support Art had given me. She said, "Uncle Art is so evolved." She remembered when he wasn't!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

It's dark out!

Daylight Savings Time ended last weekend and it's dark early now. Like at about 5 p.m. Plus, it's cloudy or raining many of the daylight hours.

Nothing new for us in the Pacific Northwest. What is new is that, for some reason, it's not bothering me much this year.

Maybe it's because I'm sitting in front of a 10,000-lumen light box for 25 minutes each morning when I wake up, and I'm taking 4,000 units of vitamin D3.

Maybe it's because I'm walking two to three miles on the mornings when I don't go to a water aerobics class.

Maybe it's because I'm thinking ahead to December 23, when we leave for Arizona via Oregon and California.

Maybe it's because we bought a wall-mounted TV this year and we can now have the gas fireplace turned on when we're watching. In previous years we watched an old TV on a rolling cart, which sat right in front of the gas fireplace. Thank goodness it finally fell off the cart and broke!

Maybe it's because we have new windows and the house is warmer, with no drafts.

Or maybe it's the medication I'm finally taking. In spite of its getting-up-to-speed side effects.

Whatever! So far, so good.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Windstorm thoughts

We knew the windstorm was coming. It's November in the Pacific Northwest, after all. The wind gusted and threatened and blew for six hours yesterday, accompanied by rain. My husband Art and grandson Kyle had agreed to put the garden to bed, and so they did - bundled up in raingear and boots. They both love machines, and they put the new rototiller and the old chipper to good use.

I was indoors most of the day. Here's my short list of reflections:

1. There is nothing like the colors of autumn. I experienced them last weekend especially, on the second annual gathering of the Blogging Vashonistas. The six of us met last year at Lavender Hill Farm on Vashon Island - six bloggers who wanted to meet each other in person after reading each other's blogs for a while. We've formed traditions already: DJan drives to my house on Friday and we carpool to the airport to meet Sally's plane and then drive to the ferry dock. We meet Jann, Deb and Sandi at the house. Sandi makes a fabulous dinner. We gather by the fireplace with our laptops and iPads and we talk. On Saturday we breakfast at the Hardware Store, stroll through the Farmer's Market and find a hike or two - still talking. We have another excellent dinner. On Sunday we enjoy another of Sandi's great meals. And we say goodbye "until next year".

2.  I love wind when it hails the arrival of a new weather front. We have two sets of Corinthian chimes,  one on our back deck and one just outside our bedroom window. When I hear their music, I know we're going to have weather.

3. I've struggled with seasonal affective disorder for over a decade, and I'm a worrier as well. Recently I decided to get some help with both issues. Fortunately, I have a compassionate doctor. He has been my doc for 25 years and he knows me well.  

I hate taking meds. I fought taking blood pressure medication for five years. I thought I'd just get more exercise and lose some weight. I did get more exercise but I didn't lose weight; apparently it wasn't important enough to give up my daily mocha or my evening ice cream. Making the decision to accept some help for my blood pressure was a good one. 

So I have decided also to accept help for my winter blues and my worrying. My doc has provided me with information and medication and his continuing encouragement. My sister is a nurse and she is very helpful and supportive. I'm strong and independent, but refusing to accept help is not very smart. As I move forward with this change, I'm hopeful.

4. There is nothing better on a windy afternoon than to read a good book with a cat asleep on your lap.