Thanks to everyone for the suggestions for not losing a post when I hit Edit. I did try going back, but it was gone for good. This time I’m writing in Word and will copy over when done. Be warned: below lies a bunch of whining, then excessive bragging about what a bad-ass I am.
CATCHING UP ON THE PRESENT
I had to go back and read some of my last posts to figure out what was going on when I dropped off the edge of ERE earth. Time tends to run together, and we adapt to current reality. It’s a little bittersweet to see that DH was on the upswing a year and a half ago. Not so much now. He’s not usually in pain, but he struggles daily with the long-term effects of radiation damage. I could go on at great length and won’t; suffice to say that he’s habitually dizzy, almost can’t eat and many days can barely drag himself out of a chair to walk slowly around outside using trekking poles for balance. He exists on oatmeal, soup and protein drinks. I do almost everything that needs to be done inside and outside.
For me, it’s been a process of acceptance and adaptation. I feel such sympathy for what DH has lost, but I also went through a process of grieving for what I had lost (otherwise known as feeling sorry for myself). No more trips to Seattle together to walk around the city and eat in Chinatown; no more travel of any kind; no more restaurants, hiking, or outdoor projects together. We can’t even share a good meal at home and drink a glass of wine. I’m quite certain that these limitations won’t change.
Over time, though, something happened. I became frustrated with the deferred maintenance on our house and property, and I started to do something about it. At the end of last winter, I put DH on notice that having our decaying 10’x36’ porch replaced was an absolute priority for me. This is something we talked about doing for years, but of course we wanted to do it ourselves…and no longer could. DH put up a lot of objections but finally agreed on the grounds that I handle the entire process of getting bids and dealing with the carpenter. I did so. I also cleaned all the crap off the old porch, tore it down (DH helped some on good days), removed the nails and stacked the wood, dug out all of the rocks around the foundation and replaced them with paver stones, sanded and painted everything, hauled dirt in by the wheelbarrow load, spread gravel, etc. The project included enclosing half of the porch for a mud room/sitting area and constructing a wheelchair ramp, but the carpenter did those things.
This took place over the course of spring and summer 2019. At the same time, I maintained our gardens and berry patches, climbed up on ladders and pruned huge branches of trees that had gotten out of hand, mowed, cleared brush, split firewood, walked the dogs, and minimally took care of the housekeeping (an abysmally low priority for me). And I built a wall.
It’s not a big wall. Definitely not as impressive as the ones DH built years ago with the tractor and nice angular rocks salvaged from timber company roads around us. This wall involved just a shovel, rake, my muscles and wheelbarrow loads of misshapen rocks dug from our own property. I’m proud of it, though. More importantly, I rediscovered (because this is my 3rd rock project) that I LOVE building stone walls. It’s absolutely addictive. I would wake up every morning with my arms and shoulders aching, and I couldn’t wait to get back outside to play in the rocks and dirt.
This particular wall started because DH wanted his precious wolfberry (Goji) bushes to be planted out into the ground instead of spending another winter in pots. We don’t have a lot of places on our tree-covered property that get sun, and this slope was about the only sunny spot without other things already crowded into it. That’s a fig tree in the middle, and the rest was a big pile of compacted dirt left from excavation of our pond spillway about 35 years ago. Over time, canary grass (my deep-rooted nemesis) colonized the area. We talked many times about using the tractor to move the dirt pile, but it’s really too tight a space for the tractor to move around…especially after we planted the fig.
It’s one of those things that hangs over you and gets put off endlessly - like the porch. I finally decided to just get a shovel and start digging. DH said: “You can’t move that hill by hand. It’s impossible.” That of course was a direct challenge.
Anyway. The hill is only about half gone, and I think I’ll have to finish that next year because the ground gets too muddy in winter. On the right is an earthen ramp for driving the lawnmower up eventually. Since this photo, the wolfberry bushes have been planted across the front, and I’ve begun digging a drainage ditch at the base because the earthen dam has always piped pond water through at this spot. I’m thinking hard about putting another wall along the back, below that little topless greenhouse made from old windows.
It’s a strange outcome. Our life has changed, as life does. I can’t reverse DH’s suffering and decline despite my most fervent wishes, but I’ve found a new direction (or rediscovered an old one) for myself that benefits us both. I can honestly say I’m fulfilled.
Now that I’m up to date, I’ll return to the past for my next post.