Sunday, January 28, 2007

Everything changes, nothing stays the same

That's a line from a country and western song (Patti Loveless? Kathy Mattea?) that I played at the end of a brief workshop about change I once gave, and I'm reminded at least once a day how true that is.

So after bitching and moaning about winter (and yes, it's still pretty cold here, and the little pond in our back yard is still frozen) I discovered dozens and dozens of new, green shoots jutting out all over our yard. The two planters next to the front stairs are showing lots of shoots (probably daffodils and tulips), and there are daffodil shoots all over the garden plot beside the driveway (and probably out back, but I haven't ventured out there for a while).

David went out yesterday (while I stayed in bed, trying to fight off a case of the flu) and cleared out most of the detritus left over from last year's blooms, which will, we hope, allow these lovely, little green shoots to get more sun and more room to grow.

I'll take a few photos and post them in the next couple of days, but I did, at least, want to report that we're beginning to see some clear hints of spring here in Portland. That, plus the return of light (it's still light outside at 5:30!) gives me hope.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

More whining about winter

This is 'Campaign Craig', a sculpture made from a shovel and a couple of rakes. We bought Craig from the guy who made him (whose name was - you guessed it! - Craig) and David added the 'campaign' when we placed him on a tree stump in our front yard. What can I tell you? David loves puns...

So Craig greets folks as they walk towards our front door. We had him draped in fake spider webs on Hallowe'en, and he took to that costume like a pro. But I'm not sure how he feels about the snow that's currently piled up on top of his head and back. I mean, he MUST be cold, right? Poor little guy...

I'm feeling like the biggest wuss in the world. I mean, I lived in and around Boston, MA for fifteen years, and I drove in all kinds of lousy weather to get to and from work, but now? Now I'm too nervous to try a quick trip to the post office, much less venture out on the freeway.

Of course, they knew how to clear the roads in Massachusetts, at least the major ones. I'm starting to wonder if Portland, OR even owns a snow plow, and, if they do, whether they've been using the plows to store stuff in a warehouse somewhere, 'cause it sure doesn't look like there's been much plowing going on around here. Of course, our little neighborhood, which doesn't even have sidewalks, is obviously gonna have to wait until nature takes its course, as it were, and things thaw enough to melt the snow on the street. But the Traffic Cams I checked this morning, the ones that show the major freeways and bridges, don't give me a lot of hope that things are gonna clear out on the neighborhood streets any time soon.

As Reva suggested in a comment on one of my last whining posts, we're pretty lucky that we don't have to be anywhere in this kind of weather (and my life doesn't include a lot of going-outside anymore in any case). But there's something about knowing you have the option to venture out if you want to do so that I find comforting. So I'm not feeling particularly comforted this morning!

Whining aside, I do need to admit that it's looking pretty gorgeous out in our back yard this morning. And I kinda like Craig's white-hat look, so he's gonna stay that way until - well, until nature steps in and melts it all away. Guess I shouldn't bitch about the snow-plow guys after all, huh?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Okay, we get it!

Left: The front of our house from across the street

Below: The view from our front porch

We get it. It's really winter in Portland. There's no need to do anything else to prove that fact to us, honest there isn't!

We got between three and four inches of snow here today, which isn't much by, say, Boston standards, but is a LOT for two folks who got used to what passed as winter in northern California. As the pictures show, we found ourselves in a literal winter wonderland today.

I went out when it stopped snowing, armed with a broom and wearing a pair of snow boots I unearthed from the closet in our guest bedroom, and cleared all of the snow off my car. Luckily, it's very dry, light snow, so it wasn't hard to get the car cleaned off. Now I'm wondering what the road will be like tomorrow....

Monday, January 15, 2007

What's a weekend?

Today is an official holiday, the observance of Martin Luther King's birthday.

I remember when I looked forward to these three-day weekends with great relish, when the thought of having three full days away from the office and work was a gift to be anticipated and savored. Now that I'm no longer able to work, I find that weekends (long OR short) simply don't matter much anymore. The week consists of seven days, without much differentiation other than trash-and-recycling pick-up day, or Hillsdale Farmers' Market day, or the day that I refill the nifty container that houses the myriad medications and vitamins I take every day. Oh, and Shot Day, the day that David gets to stab me with an inch-and-a-quarter-long IM needle filled with Avonex, the medication that may (or may not) be slowing the progression of MS.

Our DVR (DISH TV video recorder) even eliminates the need to remember what day it is in order to watch a program we like: all of our faves are set up to record automatically, and we can watch them when (and if) we're up for it.

Many of our bills are set up to be paid automatically, both in Quicken (I bow to the person who developed this software, without which I would likely be in debtor's prison, given my complete lack of attention to detail and underdeveloped arithmetic skills) and in our bank's online bill-paying system. I get email from several credit card companies, letting me know that my monthly statement is available online, so I don't even need to open an envelope to record an upcoming payment or three.

Is it any wonder that I find myself not knowing the actual date more often than not? I can always look at one of the five paper calendars hanging in strategic places around the house, or at my Live With Intention 2007 Datebook, or even rest my cursor over the time displayed in the lower left-hand corner of my monitor screen to show the day and date. Hell, who needs a memory with all of these aids available?

And, sadly, who needs a three-day weekend when life is no longer neatly arranged into work-week and weekend?

Will I ever settle comfortably into this unwanted retirement? I wonder...

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The thing is...

....ya gotta laugh.

Ya gotta laugh no matter how screwed up things seem to be; if you lose the ability to laugh (especially at yourself), life gets very bleak, very quickly.

One of my favorite people, my friend Stephanie, sent me this t-shirt for my birthday. I know some folks might be offended by it, but I'm just glad I didn't have a mouthful of coffee when I opened the package, 'cause I would've spit it all over the place if I had, I was laughing so hard. I love it! And the truth is, if there's anything positive at ALL about this damned disability, it has to be the disabled parking, right?

So thanks, Stephanie, for the gift and the belly laugh!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Some more about friends

A good, good friend was visiting Portland earlier in the week, and came to our house for dinner and a long visit on Tuesday night. This is a guy I just adore; he's very smart, well-read, interested in a wide variety of stuff (from movies to books to music to nature), and he's going through an extremely difficult time at the moment. It's times like these that I regret not being in the Bay Area (not that I can do much to help, but at least I'd be around for coffee dates and shmoozing). He has a lot of good friends who care about him deeply, and I don't doubt that he'll get through all of this at some point, but it's hard for me to see someone I care about in pain. I do hate feeling helpless...

This morning, when I climbed off the Theracycle, I glanced over at a wicker rocking chair that sits near the west window in our sunroom. The chair was a hand-me-down from our friend Mary, who was going to ditch it if she couldn't give it away. The cushion on the chair is covered with gorgeous fabric, bought in consultation with our friend Darlis, who also sewed the cover (since I can barely sew on a button properly). And there's a little, quilted pillow, with Laurel Burch kitties on both sides, made by our friend Reva, sitting up against the back of the rocking chair. It's a small piece of furniture, but boy, does it carry lots of wonderful energy - and reminders of good friends.

I just glanced over at a small cork board hanging on the wall to the right of my monitor. There are several post cards from Paris (my favorite city), sent by friends who knew how much I love the place. There's an origami heart that Reva made, and a wonderful birthday card my sister sent me a few years ago. There's a tiny Christmas ornament, given to me by Patti, whose presence in my workplace when I first moved to the Bay Area literally saved my life, and who remains a dear, dear friend, as well as a set of worry beads she brought back from Greece. There's a tiny Japanese kimono-doll, given to me by my friend Peg. And a drawing of a Land Shark, done by Zack when he was nine or ten years old. And my pin, designed and printed by David, so many years ago that it's very faded (used at WELL parties to identify me to all the folks I'd only met online).

And that's just one small space in the office, again a spot that's crowded with memories of good friends and beloved family.

So the next time I'm feeling blue because a friend has visited and is now many hundreds of miles away, I'll do a quick reconnaissance around the house to drink in the memories and remind myself that all of my friends are available, at least virtually, whenever I need a fix.

Monday, January 01, 2007

A magical start to the new year -- finally

Anna's Hummingbird

Happy New Year!

So we did our traditional New Year's Eve thing, which consists of staying at home together, feasting on finger-food (unfortunately, the theme ends up being 'the more fat, the better!), drinking champagne (I only had one glass, okay?) and watching movies. Last night, we watched Scoop and the very first episode of Saturday Night Live (which I watched from a friend's house in Yonkers, NY when it was first broadcast!). We hung around until midnight, playing computer games, watched the ball come down (three hours delayed, of course) in Times Square, smooched, did some more computer gaming, and crashed around 2:00.

Sometime around 3:00 am, driven out of the bedroom by some powerful snoring, I fumbled my way into the guest bedroom, grappled a quilt out of the blanket chest, and ended up asleep on our very comfortable couch until 8:00 am or so.
When I realized that I wasn't going to be able to get back to sleep, I hauled myself up out of bed, brushed my teeth, emptied two litter boxes, took the hummingbird nectar out of the refrigerator to warm it up, and did a full forty minutes on my trusty Theracycle (a truly remarkable exercycle, made especially for disabled folks). I brought the little glass feeder bottled into the house so I could wash them and refill them, and went out to hang them on the feeder.

(I bet you're wondering where the hell the magic is, right?)

As I was struggling to hang the second glass globe, I realized that a hummingbird had flown over and was drinking out of the one globe I'd managed to hang on the feeder - not more than a foot away from me! It was an Anna's hummingbird, a male, with a gorgeous, iridescent, ruby-colored head, and it hovered there, right next to me, sipping away for about 45 seconds. It stopped drinking, hovered for a moment or two just looking at me, and then darted away into the huge bush in the next yard. I stood there for a couple of minutes, not quite believing what had happened, and then I decided that one of my 'gentle goals' for 2007 simply had to have something to do with seeking out the magic in my life everywhere I can find it.

So here are my Gentle Goals (I hate the whole idea of 'resolutions') for 2007:

  • Be mindful of what I eat
  • Exercise every day
  • Be compassionate - towards myself and everyone else
  • Seek out and notice the magic around me
(fwiw, none of these are particularly easy, but they seem gentle to me)