COVID-19: Day 93: Moody

Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

I’m in a mood today.  I’m as gray and cloudy as is it outside right now.

It’s technically Day 93 of my social-distancing at home.  I was at the office for two full days last week.  Hoo boy!  The bustle and noise of downtown Huntington just did me in.  It’s quiet here on my hill — very quiet.  It seems I have adapted.  Just getting to Huntington set my nerves on edge — I have about a half-hour commute.  As far as commutes go, it’s not bad, but when you’ve been pretty much nowhere for 80-odd days, the traffic is surprising and unsettling.  So much so that here it is Sunday, my favorite day of the week, and I’m still unsettled.

I was in the office to do battle with the Never-Ending Tech Problems of June 2020.  Truly, my nerves are shot.  I’ve spent hours in tech support trying to sort out email problems.  The good news is we are moving the whole kit ‘n caboodle to cloud-based this week.  The downside of that is that I will need to spend most of this coming week in the office.

Tomorrow is Chef Boy ‘R Mine’s birthday.  That should cheer me up so that this mood does not persist much longer.  Truly, I can’t stand myself right now, so here’s to hoping I get over my first world problems and develop some gratitude for the life of privilege that I live.

Desperate for Tranquility

Here is a video of my Hawaii photos from the 2017 Very Epic Mother’s Day Vacation to Oahu and Maui.

I am desperate for tranquility. The world is too much with me.

The World Is Too Much With Us

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.


I should be preening, but I’m not allowed to just yet.

twirlingpreeningI’m so pleased with myself I could twirl and preen, except that I’m not done done – no twirling or preening until then.

For more than two years, the house has been in an absolute state of chaos, one that accelerated In June as Doug’s stuff needed dealing with. There has been all matter of inconveniences: painting, drywalling, floor installing, termite eradication, near gutting of the family room, bookshelving, more painting, wallpapering, and a fair rodeo of sorting and organizing.

The upstairs hallway still looks like this and will for some time to come, but the entire house looked like this in July!

The upstairs hallway still looks like this and will for some time to come, but the entire house looked like this in July!

The last couple of months I’ve been hammering away at it – oddly motivated after having been a sloth for a good while. I believe I’m nesting. Except for the upstairs hallway, study and a couple of the closets, the house is decluttered, reasonably clean, and I know where stuff is. This alone is a major accomplishment.

When we first moved here from Milwaukee, we luxuriated in the fact that we didn’t need draperies on the windows for either privacy or warmth. My windows, and I have a lot of glass in this house, were brazenly bare and I loved it. I figured if anyone snuck up here, got past the dogs, and peered into windows they deserved to see something.

I had always hated curtains and draperies. They’re just dumb, they cost a stupid amount of money, and let’s not even discuss the cost and installation of the hardware.

The drapes and I had to have frequent time-outs.

The drapes and I had to have frequent time-outs.

But. . .I noticed a few years ago that my windows went from being nude to being naked. There’s a distinction there. Nude is fine art, naked is pedestrian. I can’t abide pedestrian.

I added strategically draped scarves and valances here and there so that my Nudes with Barn remained nude, but tasteful. I did put proper lace curtains in the dressing room as I’m not so easy about the idea of a Peeping Tom as I used to be.

The living room/dining room stymied me. Whatever I did was going to require a second mortgage given two 7’ windows and two 9’ atrium doors. I pondered and browsed and hovered over the “add to cart” button on a hundred different sites. I scoured stores. I frequently came down with the vapors at the cost. I put it off.

The ceiling is painted, the walls are papered, the floors are installed and the room is starting to come together. It was time to pull the trigger. I ordered inexpensive faux silk draperies from Amazon and boggled at how nice they were when they arrived. I tried to order hardware but it had been on back order for weeks with an estimated shipping date of December 19th. The more I thought about it, the more I didn’t want to be trying to hang drapes while tripping over a Christmas tree.

Tools!  I am woman!  Hear me roar!

Tools! I am woman! Hear me roar!

This morning I woke obnoxiously early and headed to the Lowe’s after some coffee and cogitation on the unseemly state of the windows. An hour later I was home and fiddling around with the new power drill – a twinkie Black & Decker, but lightweight enough for me to stand on step-stools to install the drapery hardware also procured from the Lowe’s.

I prayed on Facebook that the installation of all this would be an adventure and not a saga. It was a bit of both, but by my standards drama free. Oh sure, it sounded like a biker bar with all the cursing and carrying-on, but nothing got broke, no emergency room visits, and the end result is as well-installed and level as is possible in a house with no true right angles anywhere.

Standing on step-stools with tools is creepy.

Standing on step-stools with tools is creepy.

OK. That’s not true. I’m sure somebody who knew what they were doing and strong enough to hold a proper drill would have rendered hardware more securely attached to the walls, but, hey, it’s fake silk, they don’t weigh much, and if it all falls down I’ll just start screaming until they commit me. I’m pretty sure the state of my windows won’t be as much of a concern under those circumstances.

drapesThey look great. Not much of the glass is covered – that wasn’t my intention. The room is still flooded with light and once I get the prisms properly hung with ribbon from the exposed rod, it’s going to be spectacular.

I told myself I would be immensely pleased with myself if I managed to just get the draperies hung today. But, surprise! I was done by 2:30 after working at a leisurely pace. So then I took to sorting and packing the remaining books, ejected all the flotsam and jetsam from this room, moved furniture around, and began putting the molding back on windows and doors! Hence, my desire to preen.

I was rocking through stuff today.

Rainbow-making prisms

Rainbow-making prisms

I start every weekend with an optimistic to-do list, but, by golly, I’m going to pull it off this time! Tomorrow I finish all the molding except for the pieces I have to replace, plant a hundred crocuses and nearly that many snowdrops, and, with any luck, get some laundry done.

I will be insufferably proud when I check off the last thing on the list tomorrow. Woo hoo! I can’t hardly wait.

prisms (2)An aside: Of course, the downstairs hall is now a mess again, but that’s short term – that stuff will go to Doug’s daughters’ storage unit on Monday. This means there are only 4½ boxes in this room! Those will be dispatched with Doug’s daughter comes for the holidays and we can go through them together.

berry 8 lbs (2)Another aside: Berry is doing better. He’s still at the vet’s. He is still having to be syringe fed. The good news is that he’s not a snotty puppy any longer and he’s put on a pound since they’ve been feeding him that highly stinky food thinned with Karo syrup (oh, gag me now.) Maybe by Monday I can bring a healthy dog home.

And yet another:  I just got news and a pic that Berry is up to 8 lbs!  Yee Haw!



dbhwalkingThis is not the first time I’ve dreaded writing.

I’m grieving Doug.

This is not the first time I’ve lost someone I loved deeply.

It’s not the first time I’ve lost someone after a long illness.

It is the first time, I’ve lost someone who lived with me and someone this close to me.

I knew through both the information the doctors provided and seeing Doug every day that we were in the end days. In a sense, I began grieving in January when I got called to the ICU to make end-of-life decisions. He was nicknamed Miracle Man long before that episode because he kept surviving that which they thought he wouldn’t. Perhaps it was denial, but in January I thought Miracle Man would make an appearance. And he did.

This time, no.

douglobsterWith strong emotion, I must write. Even with trivial things, I don’t know what I think until I pound a keyboard.

I haven’t wanted to think.

The longer I haven’t thought, the more antsy and ADD and incoherent I’ve gotten.  I put off writing his obituary until I absolutely had to and that kept me together.  It was so important to get it right and polished.  This writing just has to be.  It can be rough and raw, but like his obituary it has to be honest.

No, I’m not going to present the entire brain download here.

The past three years and the illnesses contained within them took the Doug I knew. They took the me I knew too.

portrait with small dogBeginning in January, I entered, I think, the anger stage of grief. I was angry with him and with me and with the doctors and with the existence of bone marrow transplants and with the everyday inconveniences of normal life. The little shit really got to me. With everything going on, did we really need a home remodeling project that went to hell? Did we need screwed up direct deposits, car problems, and a broken pipe in the ceiling of the laundry room.  And me, who has always loved the “don’t sweat the small stuff and it’s all small stuff” slogan, despite my inability to keep small stuff from aggravating me.  When it counted, when there was HUGE BIG SHIT going on, the little stuff got to me.

handsAnd just when I would be ready to burst into a ball of flaming wrath wreaking havoc on everything around me, he’d end up back in the hospital and my priorities would line up properly again. I so wish I could have kept them lined up all the time. I so wish I could tell him I’m sorry for letting the little shit get in the way.  I wish I could do it over.

The angry thing was hard on me. Generally speaking, I have problems with processing anger. Generally speaking, I don’t yell. Instead, I get very, very quiet. I turn it inward which is a five-star recipe for depression.

But nope. This was the most sustained, external, loud angry episode of my life. It scared me. I’m sure it scared him. I haven’t had any experience with this kind of anger. I was smart about it. I plopped my butt into a therapist’s office and she’s a good one. I was getting a grip on it, getting it under control, finding some balance when all hell broke loose again and we were back in the intensive care unit.

I’m one of those people who are very, very good in a crisis. When the Titanic is sinking, I’m the one you want. It’s not something I have to think about, it just happens. There’s a preternatural calm that descends and I go into information gathering and nurturing mode.

Doug’s final days were as calm and bittersweet as I could shape them.

doug032513Through it, folks kept asking how I was doing and I would respond with, “Fine.” And I really was. I was in the calm in the center of the storm. I have said for some time that I would not choose to live life the way he was forced to live it. I was ready, for his sake, to let him go. People would impress upon me the necessity of taking care of me, expressing my feelings, and all the other wise advice such a situation requires. I told them I was fine. I also told them I would fall apart when it was all over – well after everyone else was picking up the pieces and getting on with life. I expected that time to arrive later this week or possibly next week.

I’m sure my calm composure puzzled some folks.

fathers dayYesterday, I went to pieces. The catalyst, I think, was trying to choose a birthday card for my father’s 75th birthday. I didn’t have much trouble choosing his card, but it summoned thoughts about the agony Doug’s daughter must have gone through choosing his Father’s Day card.  A task she did on Saturday in full knowledge that his days left were few.

I did manage to get out of the retail establishment I was in (card purchased) and home, before the dam collapsed.

Shortly after Doug’s death, my mother and a good friend came to my house primarily to clean so Doug’s daughter could have a place a little more nurturing to grieve. They also put away the medical equipment, tubing, medications, bandages and all the overt signs of Doug living a life he didn’t want and that nobody who loved him would have wanted for him.  That act of kindness. . .I’ll never have the words to convey my appreciation.

In the fieldWe did leave the motel we’d spent precious little time in and came here.  We had a good time, of sorts.  In the garden and over wine, we talked long into the night, telling stories and talking about anthropology.  We’d talk of funeral plans and estate matters and somehow segue into topics having nothing to do with Doug.  By the time we went to bed, we were friends and we’d made most of the important decisions.

It was good and it was healing, but just as important, Doug would so have loved listening to us ramble like only two talkative women can.  I’ve never spent a lot of time with his daughter and, when I did, I stayed in the background (or tried to) so she and her dad could have time together.  I’ve fallen quite in love with her, the woman he considered his greatest accomplishment.

Also, I’ve had occasion to fall wildly back in love with Doug this past week. Don’t interpret that wrong. I have loved him. I’m talking about that giddy, in-love, hormonal rush that accompanies the beginning of a good relationship.

Never saw that coming.

DOUGGrief is personal. It’s been broken into 5 stages and it’s said we all experience all 5 in varying order of varying duration for each stage. Maybe I missed it, but I don’t remember the falling-wildly-in-love one.

Ours was an unconventional love story which I guess could probably go without saying – what with both of us being pretty unconventional people. We were very different in some core respects, but it mostly worked.

I am, really I am, glad that he is no longer struggling with the loss of the kind of  life he wanted to live.  The degradation of his body and his mind caused him great sorrow.

But I am really going to miss him. This is, perhaps, the cruelest form of unrequited love.

gringos04Doug and I didn’t have a song. However, my obsession with Clapton bled over into our relationship. He humored me, at times, but then he began embracing some of the songs for himself. One, in particular, astonished him in terms of the effect it had on him.

While he still lived in Boston and before he was diagnosed with leukemia, I had sent him a mixed-cd of songs I liked including Clapton’s River of Tears. He told me later that he’d been driving when he heard it and had to pull over. I don’t know where he was, exactly, but I envision him near the Charles River.

He told me he’d been happy when he popped the cd in. He told me he couldn’t understand the effect of the song upon him, but that he experienced the same effect in varying intensity every time he listened to it. Music routinely messes with my emotions, which is why I’m not listening to anything right now, but he boggled at the effect of that song upon him regardless of his mood. He was not a man to boggle.  He couldn’t really describe the nature of the tears the song provoked other than cathartic.

I’m pretty sure River of Tears is about the death of Clapton’s very young son – a grief I don’t even want to try and imagine. The song used to make me routinely cry.  After repeated hearings, I got to where it just made me reflective and teary.  It often makes me pick up the phone and call my own son who was born roughly about the same time as Clapton’s. I would also, some times, pick up the phone and call Doug. Most of all, I would just listen to it, remember those I had lost, and allow the cathartic effect to remind me that love doesn’t end when a life does or even when a relationship runs its course. The song also reminds me that we do survive the grief and, with effort, can transform it into something beautiful to be shared.

In Doug’s obituary, I wrote, “He loved travel, reading, Mexican food, lobster, a well-told tale, and the anonymous donor that allowed him to live long enough to see his daughter graduate from Notre Dame, beginning her own career in anthropology.”  He also loved me and I’m better for it.

Some of you who love me may read this and grow concerned.  I am not fine.  I am grieving and I’m doing it the way the process has decreed I need to do it.  But I am not a complete mess,  I am not inconsolable.  I’m at the stage most folks were at last Tuesday.  I will be okay.  The outpouring of love, concern, and stories about Doug this past week have and will sustain me.  The fact that I’m wildly in-love with Douglas B. Hanson right now is a very good thing.  (If weird.)