I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Mulling over the long weekend

Coffee art
One of the baristas at the coffee shop made this lovely design in my coffee the other day, and I had to memorialize it before taking a sip. Tomorrow is Labor Day, the first day of September and the last day of the unofficial summer season. Although we have a few more weeks before we reach the equinox (September 22, to be exact), at this latitude we are losing almost three and a half minutes of daylight every single day. It doesn't take long for that to begin to be noticeable. The trees are turning color and leaves are beginning to fall.

I'm very sad about my downstairs neighbor having to move out, with her cat that has become my friend. She is being evicted because of lying about having a pet, and she must be out today. And she still doesn't have a place to move, so I am anxious for her, as well as for the cat. Although he's going to be okay, since he has me and another neighbor who will care for him, she won't be coming to get him and take him to his new home until she has one herself.

She had found a place that she thought would work for them, but yesterday she took me over to see it, and it's really awful: a room in an unfinished basement (there is a small room that is finished) with only a tiny little window. She wanted to know what I thought about the place, and I told her it's really not suitable, and she was relieved that I thought so too. There is another place that might be available in a week or so, and she's hoping that she will be able to move there, taking over a lease. But nothing is for sure right now, and all her stuff has to be put somewhere by the end of the day.

I know it will work out somehow, but I couldn't help but be upset for her and spent much of last night worrying. I know that doesn't help anybody, least of all me, but I really don't know how to stop. And who knows who our next downstairs apartment dwellers will be? We have lived in this apartment for two years and whoever they are, they will be the fourth tenants in the apartment during that short period of time. It's going to work out, and I of course will make sure that the cat is fed until he has a new home with Gretchen, but still I feel helpless.

Moving on to other matters that occupy my thoughts these days. When I think of the sheer numbers of displaced people everywhere on the planet these days, there are times when I simply cannot cope, turn off the news and try to bury myself in books or other escapist entertainment. Today I'm going to the movies with Judy to see a movie I didn't think I would ever consider: Guardians of the Galaxy, billed as Marvel's "action-packed epic space adventure." I doubt that I will be thinking of anything very weighty as I watch it; my sister saw it and enjoyed it very much, so I suspect I will, too.

And tomorrow? Well, my entire routine is disrupted by the holiday. The gym will be closed, there are no buses running, and I am not sure what I will do for exercise. The weather is supposed to be iffy, with a chance of rain. You know I don't allow weather to get in the way of going outside, but I am a social exerciser, and I don't usually just head off on my own. I might be forced to do that tomorrow, however. Fortunately by Tuesday my routine will be back to normal. I've got a pile of books to peruse, but nothing that entices me all that much. I finished a good book yesterday, and now I wish I had made it last a little longer. Do you ever re-read books? I've got a couple that I might do that with, since I know they are good and there they are, right on my bookshelf gathering dust.

My left eyelid problem is not solved, by any means, but it's much better than it was. If you don't remember what it was, about a month ago I began to notice that when I wake in the morning, that eyelid doesn't want to open. I went to the doctor and had a CT scan, and everything is "normal for my age," so I started using artificial tears before I go to bed, and then again in the middle of the night if there's a problem. Last night I woke to find it was sticking closed, but a dose of tears helped. There is no "gunk" in the eye that is causing it to stay closed, so the cause is a mystery to me. I was encouraged to find that several of my commenters have experienced something similar. I had never heard of it and now I put it down to another of those things that happen to us as we age. It was terrifying to read up about it on the internet; I read about people who have to pry open both eyes with their fingers before they can see! Being internet-savvy has its downsides.

That reminds me, a friend of Gene's has started coming to the coffee shop. John is a big old farmer who wears Bibb overalls every day and looks to be around our age, a little on the rough side. At first I had a hard time talking with him, but he bought himself a Samsung tablet and brought it into the shop. He asked me if I would be willing to help him learn how to use it. I helped him get connected to the wifi in the shop and how to check his email, which he already had but didn't have any way to read it. (Mail from his relatives and a few spam emails were the only things in there.) But he was very pleased to get that far. I thought I might enjoy teaching someone how to get connected, but actually it was hard to maintain my equanimity. After several tries, I was tempted to do it myself, but that wouldn't do. It would be easier if he knew how to type, or if he weren't so hard of hearing.

However, John has been grateful for my help and sent his daughter an email telling her he has a coach to help him through the rough spots. And he took a picture with his tablet and sent it to her. It worked, and you would have thought that he'd just written a successful novel, he was so pleased.

Gosh, where has the time gone? When I began this post, with no idea where it would go, it was dark outside, and the sun came up while I was composing. I knew I would be writing about my neighbor, but everything else was tenuous. I sometimes find this activity to be easy, and other times it's a chore. But when I'm done, I always feel better, more centered, with a clearer idea of the state of my internal life. I always hope that not only am I chronicling my week, but that I am reaching out to you, my reader, with hopes that we can connect. I look forward so much to the comments, as they help me to gain perspective.

With that final thought, I wish you a good holiday weekend, and a satisfying week ahead.


Teresa Evangeline said...

I love how you share your life with us in a very conversational tone. We are friends visiting across this country beginning our day ... it feels good. I'm glad you're here. :)

Marty Damon said...

I enjoyed reading your musings.
It won't help, except maybe in some sort of cosmic way, but I imagine there are many people across the country who will also be worrying a bit about your neighbor Gretchen. I don't understand landlord's objections to cats. There's no noise, often they're never outside to bother anyone else, and a tenant with a cat is often someone more settled.
Thanks for the chat!

Anonymous said...

I feel so sorry for your neighbor. Please keep us apprised if you can.
Glad you were able to help your new friend at the coffee shop.

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, This morning, before clicking on the link to open up Eye on the Edge, I thought to myself … I’ll bet DJan will talk about the change of seasons what with this Labor Day holiday weekend and all. I look forward to your weekly reflections and I’m happy to see I was right about this one. You are right on the money, of course, with the big change in weather to cooler, more typically mild, and with the showers freshening things up, well … it just about forces us to look to the fall. I am sad to hear about your neighbor but found it interesting all the same since I am in a building that does not allow pets. At least that is the official story. We do have a few apartments here that are occupied by folks with pets … usually they claim them as “service animals” which gets them around all the rules. I think we’ve talked about this before … being able to see both sides of the story … but, at this point, if I do move again, I will not go for a “no pets policy.” The more I read about pets and folks getting older … it seems that pets can be a real positive influence. It’s just a shame when they run into problems like your neighbor. Now, I sure enjoyed your comments about John, the farmer. As I read your comments I was thinking about a similar thing that happened to me during the last week. One of my close neighbors here is a retired gentleman in his 80s. He has been using an iMac computer that is now 8 years old. He likes to keep track of his investments on the web and his online service has told him that his computer is no longer up to security specs. So, I took him over to the Apple Store in University Village. You will laugh … A youngster greeted us at the door but sent over a much older sales person to answer our questions. From my perspective, it was interesting to watch the give and take on all the questions, answers, and explanations. It surely wasn’t like starting off with a complete newbie, like the farmer, but, on the other hand, so much has changed about computers in 8 years that it is quite challenging. These days, to me, it seems like technology changes so fast that the new device you purchase today is almost out-of-date as soon as you leave the store (or, more likely, receive it from your online purchase!) Sorry to go on here so long. Well, thanks again, as always, for your kind comments on John’s Island. Wishing you and yours a happy Labor Day and week ahead. John

Elephant's Child said...

I love reading any and all of your posts.
Snapshots into a life which is so different to mine, in a location and climate which is also so different.
And so many similarities mixed in with the differences. I do feel a connection, a strong connection.
I hope everything settles for your neighbour - and the cat.
And yes, I reread books. Some of them often.

Arkansas Patti said...

I understand your concern for your neighbor and her cat. I too tend to take on the world's problems and want solutions. That makes watching the news these days brutal doesn't it?
Hope she can find a decent place that will accept pets.
Cool that you have added another person to the WWW. His world just got broader.

Friko said...

Oh dear, DJan, you don’t sound like your usual cheerful self at all. A bit scatty. a bit distracted. I only know you fully focused and ready to go roaring down (or up) that mountain.

Your sad neighbour and her cat, your eye trouble, the lack of regulation exercise all seem to have thrown you a bit off kilter.

Here’s hoping that you are back on track, fully organised and in control.

Best wishes to your neighbour and her cat. What a miserable lot your landlords are; if the neighbours don’t complain about a pet, why should they?

Have a good and active week.

Rian said...

Love the beautiful design in your coffee! And envying your coffee so-oo much now that my doctor has told me to stop coffee as well as tea and chocolate! Can you imagine? But it's been 2 weeks since I've had any of the above.

Sorry to hear about your neighbor's eviction because of the cat. I think it's sad because as people age, pets can play an important part in keeping loneliness away.

As for depression caused by watching the world news, etc. I read this quote recently and it made a lot of sense to me, "Focus your attention within reach of your influence". Or another way of saying... no use worrying about it if there's nothing you can do.

And as for re-reading books, Yes! A good book is worth re-reading (at least IMO).

DDD said...

I look forward so much to your posts, as they help me to gain perspective of my own life. Thanks for the updating of your eye problem....glad you are better.

Gigi said...

My heart breaks for your neighbor. The least they could do is let her stay until she found a place.

Other than skimming my paper and a few websites, I stay away from the news - much to my husband's chagrin. He feels that I am ignorant of world events and politics; and I am. And I like it that way; otherwise I would be sad, depressed and angry. I try to only deal with the things that I can help change. Most of what is going on in the world is too big for me.

Yay for John! It's wonderful that he is willing to try (both my dad and my mother-in-law refuse). I know it can be frustrating trying to teach someone the basics, but kudos to you for doing so!

Have a wonderful week, my friend.

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

I feel bad for your neighbor and her cat! I hope she finds a place to live. It's too bad someone would evict her over a cat.

Red said...

A friend in need? Some people have a difficult time helping themselves.
A good book or two.
An eye problem.
Helping a neat old guy with his computer.
I'd say you're a busy girl. Busy is the only way to be.

Retired English Teacher said...

You did have a lot of topics here: Your neighbor. I hope she finds something soon. I'm so sorry for her. I hate that people have to go through such rough spots.

I'm glad your eye is better with the drops. My eyes respond well to the drops also. I've also been bothered by the same phenomenon.

Summer is ending way too fast this year for me. I hope your Monday is a good one even if you can't do your usual things.

Rita said...

I've never actually had artistic coffee. Looks delicious but too pretty to drink--LOL!

I feel badly for Gretchen, too. I'm glad you are watching out for her cat and making sure he gets food and water while she waits to find a home for them. I was almost homeless before I moved here to Fargo. It's horrible and stressful. I was homeless and lived on the streets for a summer when I was a teenager--but I was young and healthy. It's an entirely different story when you are older.

I rarely ever watch the news. Avoid it, actually. Too depressing. If anything big happens I hear about it eventually.

Let us know how the movie was. Glad the eye thing is something other people have had. I had never heard about it and was worried for you--whew! Your weekly schedule will be back on track by Tuesday. I get thrown off, too, by holidays. We'll have a good week, regardless--LOL! ;)

Linda Myers said...

The weather has changed, and the shadows, and our summer is ending. I love the colors but not the encroaching darkness.

Our pets are so much a part of our lives. When we got to Tucson this winter we are taking our cat. My husband will drive the four-day journey and I will fly with the cat. Just the thought of finding pet-friendly lodging tires me out. I hope your friend finds another place that will welcome her and her cat.

BLissed-Out Grandma said...

DJan, since nothing else has helped, I have a suggestion or two for your eye. For nighttime try Systane Gel. Takes a while to learn to apply, but it keeps things lubricated while you sleep. Also, morning and evening, hold a clean hot washcloth over your eyes for about 30 seconds, then gently wipe each eyelid above the lashes several times, and then wipe below the lower lashes a few times. After a few days you'll know whether this helps at all. I found it's much better than sticking my fingers into my eye!

Hope you have a great September!

Glenda C. Beall said...

Your posts relate so much to my life today. I have been helping a family find a home they can afford and it is almost impossible. They have been threatened with eviction because they are behind in the rent and can't find a place that will let them take the two de-clawed cats. This is a family with four children and a grandmother, 60 years old. Only the mother of the boys is able to work and it takes three weeks of her salary to pay the rent where they live now. The grandmother is ill with a heart problem but not old enough for S.S. so she has no income. It hurts to see people like this in a country where some people are so wealthy, but the most wealthy often are the least compassionate about our own people in need.
I hope your friend finds a place to live, and I hope the family I am helping will find something this weekend. They have to be out of their house now or face eviction, I'm afraid.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, this posting so reminded me of the thoughts that came to me as I read Louise Penny's latest novel in her series that features Chief Inspector Gamache of Quebec.

The series has won every prize there is to win for mysteries and many more than once. The writing is exceptional and always leaves me thinking for days about the characters and the plot and the questions that I'm left with about life and love and meaning.

Your posting so resonates with her latest book "A Long Way Home." I'm not even sure if you read novels, but if you do, you truly might feel the pull of Penny's fictitious world of Three Pines, Quebec. But if you do decide to read, you'll want to start with the first book for they build and build and you enter the lives of the characters and learn more about them in each book. They become friends, just as you have become friends with your followers. Peace.

Keicha Christiansen said...

I have weeks of blog posts to catch up on, but read yours first anxious to know what you found out about your eye. I'm glad to hear it isn't anything serious.

The situation with your neighbor is distressing, and as you said, happens far too often these days. The world is full of displaced people. I just read about a family living in Salt Lake in their car after recently being evicted from their apartment. My sister also recently had to find a new place to rent, which was an upsetting and unexpected move for her.

I hope you found ways to occupy yourself today with the holiday disruption to your routines.

It's always nice to connect with you, even if it is only virtually. Have a great week!

June said...

I am so sorry for anybody who needs to go looking for a home on short notice! And to have to find a place that will take her cat. Thank goodness she isn't just abandoning the poor thing . . . many people do.

Your EYE! Oh Lord, is that another treat in store . . . eye hinges that don't work? Great. Just one happy adventure after another, ain't it?

Far Side of Fifty said...

I hope your neighbor finds someplace to live soon....I would be worried about her also. Good thing you will help care for the kitty and I am certain you will miss him. It is a bummer that they have to move.
I knew you would be disrupted by the holiday...I thought about you this morning! I will be off all week..by one day and it will take me all week to get back on the right day again.
3 1/2 minutes...yes I am noticing it. I hate this downhill slide to darkness:(

Far Side of Fifty said...

I forgot the lecture part. Call your Eye Doctor and he will give you some better drops to use. I have some called Systane Gel Drops that my Eye Doctor gave me as a sample...it is a lubricant eye gel and will last longer hopefully all night long.
Many people sleep with one eye partially open and the eye dries out.
Some nights I am bothered and some nights I am not..it might be a dehydration thing too...so drink more water!
So call your eye doctor or drop off a note at his office requesting a scrip for dry eyes:)
I am done now:)

amanda | wildly simple said...

My thoughts are with your neighbor, DJan. You're right that worrying doesn't help anything, but it's human nature to care (good human nature, I believe.) I hope things work out for her.
I have re-read books a few times. Particularly books I read long ago that I remember liking, and I've felt I've gotten so much more out of them the 2nd time around.
I had some heavy, stressful things to think about over the long weekend, too, and I also escaped to reading to try to give my mind rest. I read The Night Circus, it was much different from books I normally read. I could not put it down.
I've been very tied up throughout the month of August, and I've thought of you often. I'm glad to catch up and learn that your CTscan showed nothing of major concern. With fall here, I look forward to more structure to our days and having time to keep up with a few of my own things again, keeping up with you here, and writing my own thoughts, too. It always leaves me feeling more centered as well, as to what's going on around me and how I really feel about it. As I've quoted before, "I write to discover what I know."
Always a pleasure connecting with you!