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Hangin’ on by Loose Ends

Like just about everyone else right now, I’m trying to hang onto sanity while we wait out this pandemic. Now we’re doubly locked in by an ice storm, sub-freezing temperatures and a forecast for much colder temps and more precipitation.

Last week I was especially anxious and feeling at loose ends–even before the change in the weather. In fact, I sat on the patio and played with the dog just a few days ago, when it was 75F.

My anxiety stems not just from the lockdowns but also the stresses of responsibility: a 14-year-old who is a challenge to her old granny; a husband with Parkinson’s with multiple other health issues*. A dog. A pool, yard, trees, house, all of which require attention.

We have decided to try to downsize, so every day I check Zillow and contact our Realtor if I see something worthwhile. He showed us a house under construction the other day, and I thought, “Wow, I’ve never lived in a new house; this might be nice.” We drove over in a chilly rain that was turning to ice by the time we headed home. It took some imagination to visualize the finished product, but it doesn’t take any imagination to see a floor plan that just doesn’t work. The garage entrance took you through a closet-sized laundry room directly into the kitchen, which was tiny, like a New York City apartment tiny. An island with sink and dishwasher was placed so that a person working at the sink would be looking right into the living room. There was so little cupboard space I don’t know where we would put all our dishes, pans and serving pieces. One bedroom faced the street. The master bedroom was right off the living room, meaning a person watching TV will disturb someone already trying to sleep. The backyard ended at the sheer face of a cutaway hillside. The front door was approached along a narrow channel between stone walls. All this for $199 a square foot! The feng shui was terrible! The Realtor picked up on the fact that the house didn’t “sing” for me. Fortunately, he’s a great guy, patient and understanding. He knows this may be the last house we ever buy and we need to love it.

One anxiety reducer is Zumba. I find Tanju Koc on YouTube and after 30 minutes of keeping up with him–he’s cute and I can follow the steps–I feel sort of normal. I’d like to go to the gym and swim, but that will have to wait.

I was supposed to go to a retreat farther out into the Hill Country this weekend but it was cancelled because too few people signed up. Now that temps will be in the single digits, and the retreat would involve going outside among different spaces to sleep, eat and shower, I am so glad not to be out there, even though it has been, for five years, my favorite retreat ever–women quilting, knitting, sewing, stitching, felting and creative crafts I’m not familiar with, plus great company and somebody else cooking for three days.

Not being able to get out to shop, I made a Valentine for my husband while he went to a doctor’s appointment. I started when he left and finished as he walked in the door!

Front with ice-bent shrubbery (find the dog)












* In the middle of writing this piece, I had to stop and take him to the ER. He’s getting daily antibiotic shots, and was supposed to go to the nearby urgent care clinic this weekend, but it was closed. The ER nurse showed me how to give the injections for the rest of the weekend, so I can add “nurse” to my skill set.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Hope wherever you are you are safe and warm.

Some ice storm pics:


The Part Where It Gets Harder

If aging is a tunnel and there is a light at the end of it, we’ve clearly been hit by the freight train.¬†Bette Davis was right about old age not being for sissies.

The other day someone used the word “elderly” in reference to a situation with me.

Adding to my anxiety is the suspicion that the worst is yet to come. Despite my relatively good health and a great support system, good medical care and sufficient resources to face what may come, I still have nights lying awake worrying about what’s ahead.

Home-schooling the 12-year-old turned out to be a huge mistake. I won’t go into detail to respect her privacy; I’ll just say it’s not working. She will attend a small private alternative school next year, possibly this year if an opening comes up.

But what has really piled on the concern is that my husband has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. He actually diagnosed himself after reading an article by Alan Alda and putting his symptoms together. Some of them he’s had for a year or more–twitchy finger, shuffling, soft voice, some confusion. I thought of Alzheimer’s, looking for zebras while a herd of horses thundered by.

An advantage of living in a town with a large older population means there is plenty of good medical care. Gary has seen two neurologists; he has had physical therapy, voice therapy, a regular therapist, and he attends a support group. He can also get gym membership for tai chi or yoga.

He’s doing everything he can to be healthy. He walks, does his vocal exercises, takes all his meds religiously. He continues to perform his one-man 90-minute monologue of Clarence Darrow, which is an impressive undertaking for any actor. His neurologist assures him he has many good years ahead.

But. Everyone I talk to knows someone with Parkinson’s and has scary or sad tales of former athletes in wheelchairs, loved ones having to go to assisted living and every other sad scenario that accompanies aging and illness.

I try to keep a positive attitude and do all I can to keep myself strong and healthy. I meditate, get plenty of exercise and stay involved with my art, our church community, my knitting group, and friends and neighbors. I keep several inspirational books by the bedside. I remind myself that self-pity is unproductive.

My meditation tree.

The hardest thing is being patient with him and dealing with the challenges of the 12-year-old. Some days I am so worn down I go to bed at 8:30. The dog usually gets me up at dawn. I gripe and groan, but then I go out to a brilliantly clear, cold morning. Last week I saw a meteor from the Geminid shower. Sunrises over our nearby park are breathtaking.

Junior is my comfort creature, and for him, for life, for all that is beautiful, I am grateful.

Beautiful AND sweet, forgiven for the early wake-up.

I wish everyone good health, peace, joy and gratitude this holiday season and in 2019!


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