Archives for category: Roses

This particular blog post is about several things that are more than a little interconnected, but probably also entirely coincidental, and more likely still? I may not actually ever get around to mentioning any of those details in any specific way, because I’ve got this headache “peering over my shoulder” and distracting me. I sip ginger ale in a dark room. My tinnitus is louder than my computer, and I double-check to “see that it’s on” and laugh, immediately realizing how fucking dumb that actually is; I’m at the keyboard, writing. God damn this headache makes me fucking stupid. 0_o How annoying.

I’ve been very introspective these past few days. June 25th has some gravitas these days – the anniversary of my Mother’s death. It’s also got some serious joy – the anniversary of buying our home (we did not select the date). “Mixed emotions” doesn’t even come close to explaining where this put my head these last few days, as we approach the 1st anniversary of the date we actually moved into our home. So many boxes! Last year, all of the days between those dates were midst the COVID-19 pandemic, in the early months of “the lockdown”… strange to discuss it in months, but here we all are. I write a few more grim sentences, then remember I honestly don’t know enough to legitimately have an opinion of some of these things. I delete them, and let my mind wander.

It was hot this week. Like…intensely bold-red-text-heat-warning hot. No kidding. It was… Phoenix hot. Fresno hot. Death Valley hot.

I’m not even exaggerating.

Fortunately, it cooled off quite a bit day by day. It was so hot I couldn’t think. Writing would have put more heat into my studio, so I kept it to the minimum needed to work, and then shut everything down. My Traveling Partner and I mostly sat around bitching about the heat, keeping the things as cool as we could, in darkened rooms, drinking water. Is it weird that my recollection of those hot days is pretty pleasant? I enjoyed my partner’s company when I wasn’t working, and I’ve no memory of discord or fussing at each other. We were a team fighting a common “enemy” – the heat. We were armed with ice cream and humor. LOL Much fun was had by all. I mean… that’s how I remember it.

Memory is weird. I’d link a particular song that comes to mind…but I can’t remember the title… and then, when I do, I can’t find a link to it… I’m no longer sure I’m remembering it correctly, at all.

…On the other hand…I clearly remember exactly what a summer night in Maryland smells like, how it sounds, how the humid air clings relentlessly to sweat…

Memory is weird.

…I had forgotten how much I like ginger ale…

I sit quietly awhile, just listening to my tinnitus and sipping ginger ale. I could do without the headache that persists in hanging out with me. I rub my neck and remind myself it won’t last indefinitely – what ever does?

…Wow. That went downhill fast. LOL

Roses in my garden

It’s summer, I guess, for real. Hotter summers now, that seems clear. The summers definitely were not this hot 10 years ago (and more recently than that, Portlanders could be heard making jokes about “June-uary”, because summer didn’t really arrive until July). My garden didn’t die this year, when the heat came; my Traveling Partner set up a simple drip irrigation system for me. My tomatoes did not seem to suffer with the heat at all, quite the contrary; I think we’re going to have “too many tomatoes”. LOL Win. 🙂

This headache, though…

Time to begin again.

Heat wave. Already hot this morning. Slept well, woke refreshed. Felt… content. Balanced. Merry…

…Whole.

Off to a good start on a hot day. Things slide sideways, slipping gently, somehow inevitably tilting toward irritation in spite of a great starting point. Best efforts. Humans being human.

I put aside my coffee and go for a walk before the heat of the day might stop me, or just make the experience miserable.

A favorite park has finally re-opened after all the damage during that last winter storm.

Muggy warm air filled with the sound of mowers, small aircraft taking off from the nearby municipal airport, and swarming insects seemed to cling to me as I walked across the parking lot to the start of the one open trail. It doesn’t really go far enough to satisfy the need, but it has been a long while and I have missed this place. I walk the trail twice. I take note of the wild roses in bloom – there look to be three distinct species growing in this wooded area. I spot ripe thimbleberries, but none within reach – too fragile for commercial agriculture, they are a rare special treat, tiny, soft, and mild. The birds will get most of them. Piles of cut up trees give some insight into how much damage the storm caused. Every few feet, there’s a pile of logs and branches on either side of the trail. The forest is full of huckleberry bushes, but I don’t see flowers or berries, yet. On my way back down, before my second walk of the trail, I realize I haven’t stopped at a favorite bench… I never saw it! Weird… I begin to really look for that thing, that expected thing, as I head back up the trail. My focus results in missing other details. Something more to think about.

Oh. Reality is what it is. Expectations are shit we made up, and cling to.

It was a lovely morning for walking, in spite of the heat. In spite of the changes all around me. In spite of a less than picture-perfect lovely summer morning. Expectations and assumptions can so quickly undermine a potentially lovely experience. I mean… I even know that. It still trips me up more often than I care to count.

I put on some music. Sip my rather delicious iced coffee – I’ve been planning this iced coffee on a hot summer morning for days. Really looking forward to this moment. I made coffee ice cubes to go in it. I sip it thoughtfully, savoring the moment that is, instead of yearning for another. It may not be what I expected, but it’s quite pleasant, and that’s enough. Maybe I’ll finish it on the deck…

My Traveling Partner and I both hurt today. Pain sucks. Aging is a mixed bag of qualities, and pain is just one of many experiences… We both try to avoid taking it personally, or lashing out at each other in a short-tempered moment of our frustration with the limitations of these very human forms. He says “maybe you should just avoid me today” – right about when I was thinking of saying gently that I’d give him some space because I’m hurting that much today. lol It’s generally an exceptional partnership, even when one or both of us is in pain, or just generally not being our best selves, together.

I sip my coffee and reflect. I think about the walk, the summer morning, recalling the sights and scents, and the feel of the air around me.

Just because there’s sunshine where I’m sitting doesn’t mean I’ll find illumination.

I walked, reflected, observed, and gave myself that time I need to spend with the woman in the mirror. It’s good to get perspective. I mean… I find it so, myself. 🙂 I don’t always do a good job of making time for me, and for what I need from and for myself. I could do better there. More practice? Obviously. I know where I’ll start, too; a familiar place.

I am rereading the Four Agreements; a worthy starting point on any journey of self.

Funny thing about The Four Agreements? It was my Traveling Partner who first recommended it to me. Good basic practices to practice that tend to heal a lot of hurts and limit a lot of negative self-talk. That seems so long ago now.

Treating each other well has reliably tended to start with treating myself well, and as it turns out that has nothing whatsoever to do with buying things, and everything to do with reflection, perspective, and practices that build resilience and emotional wellness. Boundary-setting. Testing assumptions. Confirming expectations. Being flexible and adaptable in the face of change. Being there for myself. Being kind, and treating the world as gently as I am able to. Good self-care. Getting enough rest. It’s a lot to juggle, and I suspect that I half-ass a lot of it, just trying to do all of it… but…getting things ‘half right’ or ‘half finished’ is still a more useful result than never making an attempt to be my best self at all. Incremental change over time. I get better at something each time I attempt it… eventually. Learning is a process. Change is often a verb. I keep at it. Incremental change over time requires both time, and increments.

Feeling frustrated and challenged can sometimes mislead me into thinking I haven’t improved – a lot – on a lot of little things that had been far more problematic before this journey began. That’s a shame; it robs me of my chance to celebrate small wins. I think on that while I sip my coffee, gazing into the sunshine beyond the window.

I hear the A/C come on. Then I feel it. I recall the heat of the morning as I walked the wooded trail, and think about the apartment in which my partner and I first began sharing our lives… and that roasting, horribly hot all-drama-all-the-time summer some 11 years ago; no A/C. I feel grateful for the A/C, definitely… but the love matters most. We brought that with us, to this place, across years of shared challenges, growth, change, loving moments, and petty arguments – it’s a very human experience, and it’s hard to imagine spending life differently and still enjoying it as much. I sip my coffee thinking about my partner (my lover, my best friend), and the pain he’s in today. Maybe I’ll bake oatmeal cookies? Would that help? (I don’t know why it would, it just occurred to me to wonder – sometimes I have a mind like a child. LOL)

There’s enough of this coffee left to enjoy a few moments of summer morning on the deck before it gets to hot to enjoy… seems like a good time to begin again. 🙂

I can’t even string together enough swear words to adequately describe the pain I am in this morning. It’s just physical pain. It’s even mostly the “healthy pain” of spending a day working in the garden, stooping, bending, lifting, digging, kneeling, standing, reaching… all good stuff. Fuck I hurt though. That pain on top of my arthritis, on top of my [whatever the fuck is wrong with this bullshit] neck/headache pain – it’s a lot. I’m sipping a very good cup of coffee this morning, working on shrugging off the pain, to get started on the Sunday routine – housekeeping, chores, upkeep. The details of having good quality of life do not take care of themselves. (Note: if you think that the details of having good quality of life “just sort of happen”, then I suggest you look around for that person who is clearly caring for your clueless ass and say “thank you” once in a fucking while, and oh yeah – how about helping out?)

It was a lovely day in the garden, yesterday. There’s more to get done (I didn’t quite finish, even with my Traveling Partner’s help): there are yet a handful of dahlia tubers to plant, some final tidying up of beds (for this go ’round), and tools to put away. I enjoyed the work, and the effort. I am pleased with the results. I focus on those things, and turn my attention away from the pain I am in. That, and good self-care now, are the best I can do. Some yoga and pain management first thing when I woke, and hopefully once this coffee is done, I’ll be in fair shape for the chores ahead.

If you’re reading this as a healthy fit twenty-something, feeling immune to the aches and pains, and possibly just the tiniest bit dismissive or smug about your fitness, I have only this to say; your turn will come. 🙂 I don’t mean in a harsh way, I’m just saying that I understand that you “don’t get it” – we don’t know what we don’t know. I didn’t get it in my twenties, either. I couldn’t. It was outside my ability to truly understand. Enjoy ease and comfort and freedom of movement while they last you, my healthy fit friends of all ages. We’re all at risk of losing that fitness – whether through age or adversity – and once it is gone, it can be damnably difficult to get it back. (I keep working at that. Slow progress is still progress.)

Be kind to people. It’s unlikely that we know what someone else is really going through – even if they do try to tell us. Our own pain is typically the worst pain we know – and if it “isn’t that bad” we may not have a real reference with which to understand what someone else is going through. That’s as true for me as for anyone else. My partner tells me when he is in pain. I tell him. We hear each other. We earnestly seek to support each other with real care and consideration. We still can’t really know the pain the other one is experiencing. How bad is it, really? Well… I suspect it is always 100% “bad enough” that we do well to be kind to each other. I mean… that’s a small thing, isn’t it? So huge for the person we are being kind to, though. Oh, and when we’re in pain? When we’re suffering with it? Still, be kind. Sure, it’s an excuse one can offer for being a jerk to someone to say we are in pain. It’s even pretty real, right? Be kind, anyway. Pain hurts, for sure, and it can be a huge fucking challenge to muster one last shred of resilience to make that effort… but when we treat people poorly because we hurt, that person doesn’t feel our pain – only their own. From being hurt by being treated poorly. By us. Are you seeing how cyclical that can be? I’m just saying… it may be worth the effort all around, for all of us, every day, to be kind.

“I’m just being real.” I’m suggesting be kind instead. (Or, you know, in addition to being “real”… how about that?)

“I’m just giving helpful feedback.” I’m suggesting that if you must, that you do it in a kind way. Legitimately kind. If you can’t? Maybe don’t bother – especially if you weren’t asked for feedback.

“I’ve got my own shit to deal with.” Don’t we all? I’m just suggesting it may be less of a burden if you are also being kind to people you interact with.

“I’m all about ‘tough love’ and I’m only kind to people who deserve it.” It’s possible you’re missing the point of both “tough love” and kindness and I’m not sure what to say about that, at all. “Tough love” is about love. (It’s also about setting reasonable boundaries to avoid letting someone abuse your affection… seems like it would be possible to do so with kindness, too. I don’t know. I’m not walking your mile.)

Kindness may not save the world, but have you seen what the lack of it does to the world? It’s in the news a lot. Hate crimes. Road rage killings. Family violence. Kindness is a lot less news-worthy, generally… but the outcomes are far better.

I feel like I’m on a bit of a rant. 🙂 It’s just the pain I am in coloring my experience. That’s why I’m on about it; I expect to needs these words, myself, as soon as I interact with my partner, neighbors, or the community beyond. This is a blog post I’ll re-read a number of times, today, as pain wears me down and I fight back for one more shred of resolve to get one more task completed. 🙂

Take care of yourself today. Take care of those dear to you. Be kind. We all need more kindness, day-to-day. If we’re not willing to provide it, how will those around us understand to proceed, themselves? “Please be kind to me, I’m having a tough time today” are not easy words to say… maybe we would do well to practice, that, too? Anyway… practices need fewer words, and more practicing, and here it is, already time to begin again. 😉

Raindrops on a rose bud.

My Traveling Partner is quite human, but he’s also right about a great many things. 🙂 I definitely needed this break! He was right about that. My boss must have agreed, because he encouraged me to head out even a bit earlier than I’d planned to do, on Friday. It was a lovely extra, too; I spent the morning with my Traveling Partner, instead of working, before I headed for the coast for the weekend. We enjoyed our morning coffee together. Talked about garden plans, home improvement plans, and how much we would miss each other. 🙂

…I have greatly enjoyed missing my partner for a couple days. I do miss him, though, with my whole heart – he’s rarely more than a heartbeat from my thoughts – and I am ready to return home, to his welcoming embrace… to my own bed… my own shower… our pleasantly comfortable little home… the merry wave of a neighbor… and, omg, the mild lovely Spring weather. LOL (It’s been rather uniformly gray at the beach, this weekend, amusingly enough.)

The Alchymist finally in the ground (it’s been almost 10 years in a container).

…I wonder if The Alchymist finished opening up the blooms on the long graceful bud covered cane I’ve been watching with such delight? I wonder how my tomatoes (planted just last week) are doing? I sip my coffee and think about love… and lunch. For all the ordinary things I miss, right now, there’s also this awareness that I was missing out on a lot of the joy in them, because my brain was just so fucking fatigued, and my “buffers” so overloaded I could not process new information easily, or even just “find my joy” in simple pleasures. Too tired. It wasn’t a physical thing at all. My partner’s well-wishes as I prepared for the weekend away had included something very telling – he said “have fun being bored!” He gets it; I just needed to put shit on pause. Like, for real, just “stop everything” and chill. Walk. Nap. Write – maybe. Paint? Maybe. I came prepared with watercolor gear and sketchbooks… I never touched any of it, nor opened my Kindle to read. LOL

…As it turned out, I mostly just walked, and napped. LOL I meditated, sitting on the shore, listening to the waves approach and recede. Listening to the wind in my ears. I sat on the balcony of my hotel room, watching the ocean be an ocean, and listening to the passing seagulls ask about my day. I gazed into the milky gray cloudy sky for hours. Now and then I ventured out to walk along the beach again. Mostly, I spent time with my own thoughts, my own feelings, my own experience, without judgement or attachment or assumptions or expectations or inflicting any sort of demands upon myself. It was time I needed.

Chilly, windy, and gray

You know what I didn’t do? I didn’t write. I didn’t read. I didn’t paint. I didn’t sketch. I didn’t go out for fancy meals or explorations of the retail scene. I didn’t interact with many people. I didn’t have much cause to use words aloud or hear the sound of my own voice, aside from a couple welcome phone calls with my partner. I simply did the thing I needed most; I embraced the solitude and quiet, and let myself “catch up” mentally, and get some cognitive rest. Funny thing, although I was initially a bit disappointed about the gray coastal weather, I realize looking at it now that it was quite perfect for the need; almost featureless unexciting skies, and the ceaseless somewhat uniform sound of wind and waves didn’t add any “excitement” or eye-catching wonder to the vista beyond the balcony. 🙂 It was as a neutral canvas, blank, and ready to be painted upon with my choices.

…I say that, though, about the skies and the weather, as if it is “true”, solidly real, and “final”. It isn’t a complete picture at all; it’s subjective, and quite selective, as far as recollections go. It’s equally true that yesterday the afternoon was quite sunny (although the massive cloud bank that had wrapped the shoreline Friday – and again this morning – appeared only to “pull back a bit”, and never wholly dissipated). 🙂 Funny how that works. I am reminded how much of my individual experience is created within my own head – and how real that still feels. It’s worth being aware of that; it gives me so much power to change my experience of my life. That’s a lot of power.

What is also true.

I’ve finished my coffee. It’s still quite early. There is ample time for another walk along the beach before I return home. Time, even for another coffee. 🙂 There is, too, time to begin again. 🙂 I feel much more ready for that than I have in awhile. 🙂

It’s a mild Saturday morning. Not yet sunny. Also not raining. Just a morning. My coffee is hot, sitting mostly untouched in front of me. My Traveling Partner and I are “enjoying” our individual, somewhat overlapping, personal experiences of seasonal allergies. His, a lifetime struggle. Mine? Returning with a vengeance here in this new place, after decades mostly without allergies at all. I’ve minimized my allergies for years; they simply aren’t “anything” in comparison to what my Mom endured, or what my Traveling Partner goes through for so much of the calendar year that even suggesting those are “seasonal” could seem like a mockery. “I don’t have allergies” still seems mostly true for me… but this morning, my stuffy head and sneezes tell a story of Spring, and pollen (it’s the tree pollen that seems to be the issue; I can smell flowers all damned day without concern).

…And of course, my preferred walks each day? Forests. Trees. Shaded paths. Hilarious. 0_o (That’s a rare use of sarcasm; I’m not finding it all amusing really.)

It is a mild Saturday morning, suitable for gardening (I have a list of things to do), and relaxing. I’m eager to do a bit of gardening in this new place – gardening that won’t suddenly face the upheaval of moving away, gardening that can be planned for a future that exists. Maybe. I mean… the future is an uncertain thing, but at least here I can plan for some sort of permanence, as much as one ever can. No, I’m not feeling down or fatalistic, just disinclined to deceive myself with fanciful tales of “happily ever after” or “always”. Those are not helpful concepts, generally speaking. 🙂

“Baby Love”, an early bloomer, will go into the ground this weekend. 🙂

This cup of coffee is good. Not good enough to ease me past the morning frustration of dealing with allergies, perhaps, or to fix any of society’s ills, but it’s a nice moment on a pleasant morning, and that’s enough right now. I think of far away friends I’d like to take time to connect with, emails I’d like to write. Maybe pick up the damned phone now and then? (Does anyone actually answer the phone when it rings, any more? I rarely do… is that a “me thing”, or an “everyone thing”? Has the etiquette of a phone call changed since… before?)

At some point, after our anniversary was past, my Traveling Partner ever-so-gently brought up how much benefit I seem to get out of a weekend away, solo, and wondered aloud if I were, perhaps, due for one…? He admitted to having the thought on our anniversary, and shared that it seemed less than ideal to bring it up on that occasion. I appreciate his consideration… I’d had that thought, too, and felt like a complete jerk for it, considering the occasion. LOL He’s quite right, though; I’m definitely “feeling it”.

…And he definitely feels me feeling it…

I’m not sure why I’m feeling it so hard right now… the new job is intense (in good ways) and quite busy. I do spend nearly 100% of my waking time in the presence of at least one other human being, or on a call, or in a meeting (and yes, Zoom meetings are still every bit as “people-y” as in person, for me)… it gets fatiguing after a while. I enjoy solitude. I want to simply exist, free of social constraints or pressures to perform, conform, achieve, or relieve. I want to breathe my own breath. Think my own thoughts. Exist entirely in the context of my own experience. Make choices with little regard for other tastes, other needs, other timing. It’s complicated when people partner up who have very different needs in this area. I’m fairly certain that while I feel like I “never have a minute for my own thoughts”, my partner may feel that we “never get to spend any time together” – and both those experiences are legitimate perspectives on our individual experience as human primates. I’m fortunate to be in a partnership in which we recognize our differences and value them – and help each other find our best path forward.

Anyway. I’ve been vaccinated. I feel relatively comfortable making the short journey to the coast and taking a day for myself. Masked & distancing, yeah, that’s still a thing for sure. I’m okay with that, too. I got lucky on getting a pleasant ocean view room a few steps from the beach (131 actual stair steps, if reviews are to be believed) – next weekend. The weather is nice for painting. I’ll take my water colors and my camera along with me. My laptop. I’ll walk miles along the beach. Take some pictures. Meditate. Think. Write. Paint.

…I will miss my Traveling Partner so so much…

We benefit from a bit of time to miss each other. I sip my coffee and wonder what he’ll get up to while I’m away… besides missing me, I mean. 🙂 I already look forward to sharing pictures and conversing about time we did not spend together.

…I’m already looking forward to beginning again. 🙂