With coffee and writing implements at hand, I can determine the shape of today.
|I tend to write in the morning. After morning coffee and writing comes whatever the day holds...work, more writing, family time, reading, maybe even some gaming. It just depends...but writing first, always. And once I start writing, I get an idea not only of what I'm writing about, but how the rest of my day will go. Hence, the shape of today.|
|I wanted to take a few minutes to share a perfectly seasonal and delightful thing I saw yesterday morning on the way into work.
The sun had just risen, and there was heavy fog near the gas station where I'd stopped. As I started off again I was faced with a number of strange factors. Despite the fog the sun was very bright, and combined with the wet road surface to produce a glare that not even my driving shades and visor could cut much. I was obliged to turn my headlights on even though it was fully daylight by this time; I was having trouble seeing other cars so I knew they might not see me.
Cruising along into town, I was muttering to myself about this when I glanced up at the power/phone lines along the road and did a double take. The combination of moisture in the air and the early sun illuminated row upon row of spider webs between the upper and lower sets of lines. I could not take my eyes from the road long enough to do more than glance, but they seemed perfectly spaced and symmetrical. I wondered how many of these "spider condos" there might be, but of course I had to keep my eyes on the traffic.
It put a smile on my face, though, during this Halloween season I enjoy so much. Despite all that has happened this year, I'm having a good October so far.
|A month since my last blog post? Good heavens, how the time flies...
Well, I'm adjusting to my new life...mostly, adjusting to being the sole person responsible for the needs of an elderly house. There's a lot of work to be done. I'm determined to do all I can...I don't want to give up and run.
Am I writing? Not as much as I should be, probably. Right now the only regular piece I do is the guild mission reminder post on Saturday mornings. I've an idea in mind for the "Journey Through Genres" contest here at WDC I've got a couple of weeks to formulate, and I'm still planning on jumping into NaNoWriMo this year. I need to start disciplining myself more stridently, and actually working to achieve what I want instead of just daydreaming about it.
I also have a work project (not a writing project, really) which I'm not supposed to work on during my off time but probably will. Getting chances to work on it on the job are few and far between, and it needs to be ready by October. I'm to do the "Readers' Advisory" display for next month so naturally I picked Halloween. My last "Readers' Advisory" display was in April (I think) and it was pretty slipshod. I want this one...a celebration of the spooky fun of Halloween for all ages...to be good. There's no shortage of books in our library to support this, it's just a matter of getting them all entered on a list so I can track them down when the time comes. I also need to develop a slide, bookmarks, and maybe some signage and coming up with all this while stationed at the desk is difficult. The phone is ringing, patrons are approaching me...it's a lot of distraction.
So, I'm going to tweak it a bit this morning before heading off. This will be our little secret, WDC. I trust you. Who knows, maybe I'll even unearth an idea or two to use in my other writing probjects.
|Now that things are settling on the home front, it's time for me to turn my hand to writing once more. This is what Dad would have wanted, for me to chase the dream dearest to me. After all, I'm not getting any younger myself.
And so I can consider participating in NaNoWriMo, which I previously hadn't been able to do. Hopefully come November there will be enough structure in my life to hit that magical 1,667 words per day. As a matter of fact, I know I'm already doing more than considering it because I've ditched both previous projects from my NaNoWriMo page to make room for a new one. And I think I even know which one I want to work with, though I want to make certain adjustments to it before committing it to NaNoWriMo. If all goes as I hope it will, I'll have an enjoyable and profitable project to work with!
With that in mind, I'm off to tinker with said project before the day's errands begin. No time like the present, eh?
|This one last time, I'll use a "sailing" metaphor to describe my personal situation.
The "storm" that has ravaged me for so long has ended at last. It ended Friday morning with a phone call from the rehab facility. A sorrowful nurse told me that Dad's suffering is over.
I won't go into the details, as I am still learning those myself. I also won't go on and on about my grief...that is a thing I will carry with me to the end of my own days. It's been very nearly 35 years to the day since we lost Mom; you never truly get over it. Nor should you. A person who was a big part of your life is gone, and nothing can fill that void except your own memories and love. Time must do the rest. There is an annoying little voice in my heart that bemoans the fact that I should have been there with him at the end, but that would not have been possible with the COVID lockdown at the place. I am comforted by the fact that I'd spoken to him on the phone before he apparently took a turn for the worse, and got to tell him I love him one last time.
That same annoying voice asks me if I could have done more while he was home here, but I knew I had been doing all I could for him. He knew too; that's why he asked me to call 911 on July 4th so he could be taken back to the hospital. I remember telling him that day that I would miss him while he was gone, and he looked at me very clearly and said, "Yes, but you'll get over it. And you've got your own life to live."
He knew. I just pray that he and God will forgive me for all the times I was weak, that I let anxiety and frustration get the better of me. I know it happens to caregivers everywhere, often in worse situations that Dad's ever was.
He's beyond pain, now. He's with Mom again. He's free, and so am I. And while sorrow will ride with me, the fear that clouded my vision is gone. I can see the way ahead. And I feel a new strength, even at this sad time, that comes from knowing two great spirits are also riding with me.
|The storm I have mentioned in previous entries goes on, though it's somewhat muted for now...Dad's in rehab where I trust his recovery will ease matters for us. It was his own idea to go back into the hospital; he saw how much I was struggling to care for him. We've been given another chance for which I am grateful.
I simply had no time to devote to writing, so I let my WDC membership slide back into "Basic". However, now that things are settling somewhat the writing bug is biting me again so I've upgraded once more. I need writing back in my life...not being able to attend to it was making me miserable. Would this struggle make for good writing material? Of course...but right now I have no plans to use it. It's still too close to me, and nothing I have in mind would benefit from it.
So...NaNoWriMo? I don't know. I was less than delighted with my last project for that event, so if I get into the act this year it will probably be with something new. It all depends on how things go here on the home front. On the work front as well...things have been unsettled there, too, but I've been so distracted by my personal concerns I haven't had time to do more than roll with the changes. I do know things were getting so bad here at home I was actually looking forward to going to work and viewing the end of the workday with dread.
Yes, it's been tough. But as a (now former) co-worker told me: "I don't have to like it...I just have to survive it." And I have. Time to wake up again.
|I see that my last two entries used "sailing" metaphors to describe my situation, so it seems appropriate to continue with them. This is the longest, hardest storm I can recall sailing through.
Dad's been back at home from rehab since the end of March, but I simply haven't had time to sit down and write about him or anything else for that matter. UTI's, I have learned, are murder. The damn thing keeps trying to come back despite multiple rounds of antibiotics and when you take his age and his other conditions into consideration it makes for a tough fight. While he's mentally much better than he was when everything went critical back in February, he's still got some blocks. Mostly with communication, something he was never great at before any of this happened. He doesn't always tell me what he needs, and I have a sneaking suspicion that he doesn't always mention his pain or discomfort. And that adds a wrinkle to my sudden new role of "caregiver". And, of course, he very frustrated that he needs help with nearly everything. I keep urging him to do the exercises assigned him by his physical therapists, reminding him that getting stronger with benefit him. But sometimes I feel I'm hitting a brick wall. If it hurts him to do the exercises, he won't say. What am I to do? I can't force him, after all.
The worst part for me, apart from seeing him struggle, is watching my own time flying out the window. Mornings like this, when I can sit down with a cup of coffee and write something, are now a rarity. From the time my feet hit the floor in the morning I'm running...to take care of Dad, often to get him up, breakfasted, and settled into his recliner for the day before hurrying off to work. Work has actually become a haven of sorts, where I don't have to worry about him for several hours...well, not directly. We're lucky to have home health and family members to look in on him and I will not deny that prayer has been a help as well. I still have my sanity. I still read as prodigiously as I am able to in this situation. I need to start writing again; it will help me cope. Finding the time and the energy is always the big challenge. But others have done it, writers I admire greatly. I can do it, too.
Yes, it's a very big storm. It's ugly. It keeps lashing my little boat, threatening it to overwhelm it with despair. I will not allow that to happen as long as I'm still on my feet, though. I've come too far for that.
|I'm not going to go into the details just because it's too exhausting...but yes, my little boat is still upright despite the storm. Our entire family is going through a rough patch right now, not just Dad and myself. We all have our ways of coping with adversity...and if it works, then that's all that matters. My personal belief is that God answers to every name he's called by, and in my eyes this has been proven to me in recent weeks.
It got so bad for a bit that I totally lost interest in writing for a time; I came back to a ton of notifications not to mention repeated pleas to update my blog. So here I am, answering the call. Both writing and reading have been my guideposts during hard times, and it's time I got back to them. No, the storm is not over yet.
But neither am I.
|There are all kinds of metaphors out there for when life gets difficult. Though I've never been at sea during storms, I've read enough accounts of them to apply the metaphor to my own life at present. It's rough, and scary.
I don't mean things out there in the wider world that the news is so taken with. That storm will pass. What it takes with it is to be determined, but I certainly am not a part of it and have no intention of becoming part. I have my own storm.
After a rather large bill and a couple of days of gritty water, we now have a new pump, new pressure tank, and new hardware for all of this. Dad also has a new stationary recliner which apparently is very comfortable...he sleeps in it easily. It finally dawned on my yesterday that sprinkling cornstarch over the surfaces he needs to scoot over might help, and it appears it does. This is helpful, because his weakness has become so problematic that I've taken a leave from work so I can be here with him all the time. He has a lot of trouble with transferring...the trip down to Gainesville Thursday for the labs was a nightmare. I had to get strangers in the parking lot helping me get him and out of the car. I'm still considering whether I should engage a private ambulance service for his first infusion Wednesday.
Although, for the last couple of days, he's seemed better. A friend recommended B-12 supplements which are supposed to be beneficial for people with his condition. Maybe it's just hopeful imagination, but he does appear to have recovered at least a little vigor. His appetite is as strong as ever, so I'm going to keep feeding him the best things for him. We have just a few days more to get through, just gotta hang on.
It's hard, though. It's not the first time I've watched a loved one cope with the ravages of age, but struggling to do the most basic everyday things takes a lot out of him and it's heart-rending to see. Anxiety springs up like a grass fire every time he gets in or out of his recliner, or goes to bed. And naturally this spills over into my writing life, such as it is. I can't focus on anything, even my library books. The holidays were too dismal and chaotic to seem normal, but I did make a sort of unofficial resolution to "read to write" more closely; seeing what authors do that make their works so compelling. It's tough to do that when you're constantly listening for your aging parent to call out, or try to get up unsupervised.
I have to try, though. If for no other reason than applying what I've learned from this storm to my writing, and adding depth to a character's situation. That was discussed in a "Writing Excuses" podcast I listened to yesterday.
That makes sense, and of course I know that what I am facing is peanuts compared to what some are facing. I need to kick anxiety and self-pity to the curb and use what I do have to steer us through this storm. And I will...I just had to vent.
|I'll leave it to the historians to discuss the larger events that transpired this week, out in the world and specifically DC. One grows tired of saying "I told you so" after four years of it.
My own tribulations are not nearly as earth-shaking, but are troublesome nevertheless. The well's pressure tank has given out, so our ability to use water is going to be seriously diminished this weekend. Luckily, I don't have work and made enough soup yesterday to last us the entire period. Monday we're supposed to hear from a reputable local company who can do the repair work...at a reasonable price, one hopes. So it's just a matter of muddling through the weekend. I muddle through weeks at a time so I should be able to manage that.
Monday I'm supposed to take Dad down to Gainesville for some lab work in preparation for an iron infusion he's supposed to get. As this company is to call us back Monday, I'm not sure how that's going to play out. I've already delayed the appointment once and don't want to do so a second time; it's important that he get this infusion. He's anemic and it shows in his behavior as well as his physical strength. Getting that restored will rejuvenate him and hopefully get him back to going to therapy and getting a new prosthetic. COVID really has thrown us for a loop but I shouldn't complain; many out there are suffering so much worse.
Apart from a trip to the laundromat and store tomorrow, there's not much on the old plate...so I should take the opportunity to get into my writing rhythm. I'm just waiting for my headache to fade which it should now that I've had some breakfast and coffee. I cannot make the hardships go away, so I may as well use them to my advantage.
|One of the numerous things affected by the pandemic is our library system's courier service. Putting a book on hold from another library used to take a week or two; now it can take months due to shutdowns, quarantine procedures, and staffing challenges.
When I stumbled across a Stephen King book called Secret Windows, I was surprised because I'd thought it was a work of fiction...a novella published on its own. This isn't the case. It seems to be a companion volume to On Writing that I somehow missed entirely. Naturally I put a hold on it, some weeks ago now. It's on its way from Warner-Robins, which means God knows when it will show up. In the meantime, I've re-read On Writing and found that many of my writing habits need to be modified, if I'm serious about the craft. I knew this in the back of my mind, but getting reminded of it in the middle of NaNoWriMo is of course a much-needed shot in the arm.
Mostly it's made me realize that the project that probably needs the most attention is my "Crown Jewel", my oldest writing project. It occurred to me the other night that I'm cluttering it up way too much with stuff it doesn't need, so I plan to go in and trim some of that fat. The characters are there (a couple need some tweaking), the location is there, the situation is there. I'm going to trust to Sai King's anti-outlining admonitions and just let the story itself take off.
Oh, and naturally the King also reminded me that a writer reads. Always. I've finished On Writing (for the third time), but while waiting for my traveling book I picked up Ken Follett's Eye of the Needle, which I think I may have read as a teenager. No matter; it's an excellent ride so far, and I'm trying to make a habit of studying how Follett manages his language, his characters, and his story. These are things I need to keep an eye on no matter what I'm reading.