Chaos and Trees

From this angle it looks a little serene.

So, no. Today wasn’t a particularly good day to me, but it wasn’t all that bad either.

In giving advice to others, I often tell folks that if they don’t slow down, they’re body will take matters into its own hands. Good advice. I should have listened. My body kept me home today – a myriad of minor ailments no doubt brought on by the heat and the stress and the frenzy. In addition to the headache and what feels like the onset of a cold, I’ve managed to sprain my left wrist. I have no idea how that happened, but it’s a nice companion for the ankle that began swelling a couple of weeks ago. As with the wrist, I’m not sure what’s up with the ankle. The wrist aches, the ankle does not. I once woke up with a broken foot and didn’t know how that happened either. It’s possible I have an active dream life. It’s possible my life is just a lost episode of the Twilight Zone. It’s possible someone has a Connie voodoo doll.

So, I’ve wallowed on this couch today not even pretending to do anything of worth. Given the to-do list, many of the bulleted items bearing firm deadlines, I should feel guilty or at least panicked. But like I said, if you don’t slow down, your body will slow you.

And then the chaos begins to emerge.

So the couch is becoming a favorite. I inherited it from HMO’Keefe who inherited it from his inlaws. It’s a beautiful rattan affair – part of a whole suite of furniture. We know what a furniture junkie I am. I particularly like old furniture with happy vibes. This stuff fits the bill. It’s what you’d call Florida room furniture. At the pied `a terre, we had it in the sunroom where it seemed the room had been made for it. When it came time to move out, there was consternation as to what to do with it. Between Boston Boy and myself, we have 4 sofas none of which we’re willing to part with. So there was a lot of moving stuff around and when it shook out, the guest bedroom turned into Doug’s mancave, my study lost the old library furniture which went to Doug and the rattan furniture came in here. This will create a crisis when one of the younguns comes to visit, but I’ll worry about that later. (I really do think the offspring ought to have a bed to sleep on during their infrequent visits.)

The Hovel

this sofa in here was quite the feat. There’s an awkward corner and turn at the top of the stairs and the sofa was 5/8 of an inch too long. I was determined. Three men told me it wasn’t happening. I was more determined. I took the door molding off. I took the door off the hinges. I took the two strips of wood off the sides of the doorway – the strips that when everything is assembled stops and stabilizes the door. Even then, we beat the hell out of my drywall getting it in here. I’d have taken studs out if I had to.

It’s never coming out of here. I believe we’d have to saw it half to get it out. It suits this room nicely. I’ve sort of an Appalachian Tree House Tiki Hut vibe going.

I’m clocking some hours in here – it’s rough living with someone after years of living alone and liking it. I haven’t actually put a “No Boys Allowed” sign on the door, yet, but I may.

My wrist aches and keyboarding isn’t helping, but, oh well, this too shall pass.

Hovel – Inside

So I have the rattan furniture in here and a giant piece of bamboo my dad brought home from Vietnam. I have the Maiden Mother Crone triptych of torsos and the Maiden Mother Crone painting. My art supplies are stacked here and there and the books are all boxed pending getting the mess downstairs straightened out and replacement shelving installed. My rolltop desk has not been toted up the stairs yet as I can’t do that by myself. Under normal circumstances, the broken zen of this room would grate like the Chef du Hashbrowns at the Waffle House, but this room is the best one in the house right now. Comparatively, it’s an Appalachian beach of treetop calm.

This is a whole lot more overwheming in real life. The hovel is behind the branches on the left.

And speaking of trees, I finally took a good gander at the derechoed (derechod?) trees out back. It’s a freaking mess. It looks like the hovel is spared, but just barely. Cleaning up and preparing the hovel for use again has been on the to-do list forever, but is rising to the top as my need for alone time increases. However, the hovel had structural issues and the vibrations of a giant oak falling may have been the death knell. Shorty, the Whirling Dervish Handyman, will be taking care of the trees in a mañana fashion.

The hovel was born years ago when I needed an alone place and I wanted somewhere I could sit outside and hear the rain. It began life as Chef Boy ‘R Mine’s clubhouse, but he was unhappy sharing it with wasps and abandoned it. I reclaimed it after it had languished empty and forlorn for years. It is lusciously appointed complete with a copper chandelier and Diego Rivera artwork, but has been left to the wildlife for some years now. It’s going to be a righteous mess to clean up. Maybe this fall.

As reality becomes more real and I realize more and more what I can expect, the to-do list becomes frightening. I know I can’t live with this chaos and I know it’s up to me for mitigation. I fervently believe that I must work on “finding contentment in creating chaos” but every area of my life is in flux. And I wonder if I’m to be content with the chaos I create or must I also find peace with that inflicted on me. And if the answer to both is affirmative, do I have to do it at the same time. Are there rules about these things? Probably not – chaos is the absence of rules.

I sometimes hear the echoes of panic.

The Mailbox, Derecho, Dumpster and Beetle

I can read by this sucker!

July 7th (or maybe July 8th, it could be after midnight)

I’m sitting outside in the heat and neglect ravished garden writing this with pen and paper. It’s a night to make 72F past midnight feel like watermelon on ice.

The last time I blogged, I was trying to make my mailman happy. I may have succeeded. But here we are again, trying to make the mailman happy. HMOKeefe and the mailbox had a lover’s quarrel. He wielded a U-Haul and the mailbox stood silent, but not firm. After sprawling on the ground for several days in the debris of unwanted catalogs and carpet cleaning advertisements, the monster mailbox was tossed into the rental dumpster.

Exhausted, but victorious. The post, that is.

Boston Boy spent most of the day installing a new mailbox using some New England method that bears no resemblance to how anybody I know has ever installed a mailbox. It’s not going well. I say, “Um, you’re trying to pound that thing into bedrock,” and he says, “I did this in Massachusetts” and then I don’t say, “What part of any of this reminds you of Massachusetts?” But it’s been 3 weeks without a mailbox and another day or 300 doesn’t matter. I’m not the mail junkie.  The new post is sprawled in the driveway, exhausted but victorious against insertion into bedrock.

Oh, yes, rental dumpster. It’s been exciting times around the old barn and, really, if you’ve never rented a dumpster, do so. Before things got worse, I had a lot of fun running around like June Cleaver on crack de-junking the house.

I am too damn old for all the excitement of the past several months.

In no particular order, I offer up the following as a sort of “What I did on my summer vacation” essay.

1. The Derecho.

2. Three downed trees.

3. 6 nights and 5 days (and counting) of no power

First floor of the house. For upstairs, add 10 degrees.

4. Heat index between 105 and 115

5. The pied-à-terre abandoned (hence the Uhaul).

6. Mushrooms growing on my carpet.

7. New subfloor

8. Termites, carpenter ants, squirrels and a possum, all in the house, and all evicted.

9. Rotten bookcases.

Where are my bookcases?

10. 105 linear feet of homeless books PLUS HMO’Keefe’s.

11. Moldy drywall.

12. Packed the entire first floor of the barn.

13. New HVAC.

14. Chose new flooring, paint, and more paint.

15. Sanded drywall.

16. Acquired my first extension ladder.

17. New solid bottom (doesn’t that sound sort of risqué?) dishwasher to protect the as-of-yet-uninstalled new flooring.

Ah, there they are. Those aren’t bookcases, they’re trash.

18. Burl the Handyman Extraordinaire retired. Found Shorty, the Whirling Dervish Handyman.

19. Sheer, unceasing, unspeakable chaos at work.

20. Flunked the mammogram. Passed on the 3rd try.

21. More indignities of old age.

22. Even more.

23. Still yet more.

24. Filled the dumpster (and then some).

Building a new subfloor, fa la la.

25. This is only a partial list. I’m leaving out 26 through 147, but each and every one of them hold promise of a good story when I get to the point where I can laugh.I got a wee bit drunk last night. It was my only hope for sleep. I’ll never sleep tonight. It is, literally, 94F in the bedroom and the entire first floor is a construction zone. The only furniture available for human bodies are the wooden kitchen chairs. The idea of wine as a sleep aid is revolting and I’ve been mainlining water so I’ll pee every 30 seconds all night. Might as well just sit here.

AH DAMN. I JUST SWALLOWED A BEETLE.

After the Derecho slammer jammed West Virginia, 85% of the state lost power last Friday, including me. I woke Saturday morning to air conditioned comfort much to my astonishment. That astonishment grew as I learned about the Derecho, the state of emergency, the suffering that hurricane force winds during temps in excess of 100 can provoke. For those of you as ignorant of this weather phenomenon as I was, a Derecho is either Spanish or Sioux for Straight Arrow (different sources different origins). It’s a hurricane force wind that arrives with no warning and travels a great distance in a very short period of time wreaking havoc. This one started in the upper Midwest and didn’t stop until it knocked D.C off the grid. In 10 hours.

I routinely lose power. If a cloud somewhere sneezes, my power goes out. How did I get lucky? I don’t know. But I lost power in the second storm on Tuesday and here I sit, swallowing water and beetles.

Third degree mosquito bites fer shur, dude.

Boston Boy is resolved to sleep out here tonight. If he succeeds, we’ll be at the E.R. tomorrow tending to potential Lyme Disease and 3rd degree mosquito bites.

The IPhone is keeping me sane. I switch between Facebook, the APCO website and email. One thing led to another and I found Charlene on Facebook today. By the time she accepted my friend request, the battery was dead. So the phone is on the car charger and I’m losing the battle against the bugs. The nifty new lantern which was the last non-electric source of light available for purchase in the state of West Virginia is attracting June bugs who subsequently explode like tiny, wet fireworks when they get too close to the flame. (Yes, it’s gruesome, but there are that many fewer for me to swallow.

It’s a dandy lantern – 1500 lumens with an electronic ignition. If it just had wi-fi, I’d be all set.

I need a strait-jacket.

Besides every hotel being full to bursting with tree trimmers, power workers and the heat-tortured citizenry, we’re not in a hotel tonight for fiscally prudent reasons. Nor were we last night, but we were Thursday night because otherwise I was going to end up in either prison or the psych ward. But the, “Gee! Let’s put in new flooring” torture and massacre of every penny and more in the budget has the checkbook keening loudly, although not loud enough to drown out the neighbors’ three, yes three, generators. I hate the sound. Hate it. It sounds like a stampeding herd of semi-trucks. I just know the neighbors are over there wearing sweaters and surfing the Internet while sipping something frothy with lots of ice.

[Connie looks forlornly at the 2” of dirty water in the bottom of the cooler.]

So, it seems I’ve blogged again.

Find contentment in creating chaos.

It’s now Sunday evening, about 10 p.m. I’ve had power since shortly before 2 p.m. Of course, another storm arrived shortly thereafter which is wreaking havoc. Thus far, the power is on having only flickered once or twice. I have the AC cranked. I’m going to get this house freezing so if we lose power, and I expect to, we’ll have some spare cool air. However, the heat has broken. It’s a good 30 degrees cooler outside than it was this time last night. I expect to sleep well tonight. Last night I prowled Walmart after writing the above. Heat-induced insomnia is a terrible thing. I did manage a few hours of restless half-awake-half-asleep-all-miserable time in the bed. I did persuade HMO’Keefe to sleep indoors last night so no hospital adventures for us today.

Sleep well, y’all. And try to find contentment in chaos.