Monthly Archives: November 2019

I will always love you… or possibly until trash day

In October I found wood shelves tossed out on the curb. I wasn’t sure what I’d do with them but finding real wood furniture always makes me happy (pressboard or particle board crap just isn’t the same). About 29″ tall and  33″ wide, they weren’t too heavy so I carried them home; I knew I could pass them on to someone else if I couldn’t find a use for them. Otherwise they were almost certainly going to the dump – trash day for that area was the next day – and any other passerby wouldn’t likely see their potential since they didn’t look like much at first glance.

The paint job, likely a stain, was uninspired.

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Before I even brought the shelves home, the words on the back caught my attention and sealed the deal.

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Now that was curious!  Who are Louisa and Joe and why were their – or his – shelves chucked out for trash? Does she no longer love him? For whatever reason, were they no longer together (if they once were)?

It happens that I know someone by the feminine name but she spells it differently and moreover the woman on the shelves wrote her last name too, which I’ve edited out of the photo for privacy. It was an unusual name and googling it got no hits, further compounding the puzzle. I wonder if it wasn’t either of these two people who threw the shelves out but someone else. Maybe Joe nor Louisa was still the owner? Those words are an unusual thing to write on nondescript shelves anyway. Shelves aren’t all that romantic.😕 Maybe she painted them for him? Or secretly wrote the words on the back for him to find? And when was this written anyway? It just raises a lot of questions, the sort that intrigue me.

Now that the shelves were mine, the first order of business was fresh paint. I decided I could use the shelves in my room, if only temporarily, so I used this green that’s close to a shade I have on half the walls. The shelves aren’t ideal here because they extend past the window but I found myself in need of a little extra clothes storage, at least between seasons, so these will do. Painted, they look like a completely different piece.

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After I fixed up the shelves I found these interesting fabric bins at Dollar Tree. This setup may be temporary but for now it’s fine. And I will never paint over or otherwise change the words written on the back. In the end, I find the “secret” declaration of love, whether it lasted or not, kind of touching.

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Inherited grief

I grew up in a big family. A big family that cast a long shadow. Years ago extended family or family friends would sometimes say my parents had “two families.” This phrase didn’t mean what it does now, referring to when a man dumps/leaves his first wife & kids and goes on to have a second batch, usually with a younger woman. In the old days it meant when there was a noticeable gap in the offspring, a span of years when no child was born, as if the parents took a little break from procreating and then started up again.

What people had either forgotten or never knew was that there was a child inbetween the “two families”, a baby that before age one got sick and died. A baby that had a name, several older siblings, a funeral, and a grave. I didn’t know the baby. I came later. The child, who would have been my sibling, just like my many others, was vague and fuzzy. I was told the skimpiest of information. It was a closed subject and I didn’t understand it. I’d be an adult before I could shake a bit of real information out of anyone in the family.

Death and grief were handled weirdly in my family. I’m certain we don’t own the market on that. Things were not discussed. Grief was not expressed. Drama, rage, anger, theatrics – these were all okay. But grief? Sadness? No.

See, what I have pieced together goes beyond this lost child. In the year prior to the baby’s death, a first cousin, the same age as one of my siblings, and a beloved young uncle died, as well as a grandfather. I knew something about these people but even more vaguely than our baby. As a child and even later I wasn’t even clear on who they were or that they – just names – were related to me. Now I can appreciate that they were all people my older siblings knew and loved. Within a year my older siblings, all under twelve years old, lost a first cousin, an uncle, a grandfather, and a younger sibling.

Instead of dealing with any of this or helping the children, it was business as usual in the household. I wasn’t there but I feel certain of it. I’ve gleaned enough information and have simply experienced enough of my family’s ways firsthand to know. Yes, sure, my parents no doubt had their own pain and were almost likely “handling” death as they had been taught long before, but I still fault them. They could have – should have – done better. I think they were too caught up in themselves to offer their children what was needed. My parents were grown; they had resources if they wanted them. What resources did little kids have? Only each other I expect. To whatever degree.

I am convinced my older brothers and sisters were permanently marked by these deaths, made worse by how they were handled. I think they, with no proper guidance or sufficient comfort from our parents, “stuffed” and repressed their grief and pain and consequently paid for it throughout their lives. I’ll grant you, it’s said not everybody deals with death & grief the same, there’s no “right” way, etcetera – I’ve heard all that – BUT if you either don’t deal with it or do unhealthy things as a result, well that ain’t handling it, Sally.

Figuring this mess out has helped me. These are insights I wouldn’t expect other family members to enjoy, appreciate, or welcome.😕 As a rule my insights or attempts to make sense of my family of origin are best kept to myself or occasionally shared with one other member. It helps me though, to understand. If I understand what went down in my family in the many years before I was born I can understand my own life better.

The “second” family – the kids born after the baby died, including me – didn’t have a grief stew in their early lives. The deaths that we experienced were not like the ones our older brothers & sisters knew. Oh, death was still handled weirdly, but there weren’t so many, so close to home. I think I can say, despite whatever else we had to deal with by being members of this particular family, repressed grief wasn’t among them. By the time a very significant death came again to our family, I was old enough to handle it as I saw fit, to actually deal with it, and to try to learn something. The family, on whole, tried to stick with the old, traditional methods of NOT dealing with it, but as soon as that was dead clear to me so to speak, I was having none of it. Grief needed to be handled and experienced, I knew this intuitively and actively sought out ways of doing so.

I think my older siblings were saddled very young with scary things beyond their control, and what is scarier or more beyond control than death? They adopted my parents’ methods of stuffing away grief. But grief never stays put; it finds its way out – for better and not better at all – and can haunt people for a lifetime.

Short Thought 246 (nonsensical)

Recently the local Dollar Tree hasn’t been giving receipts unless the customer presses a button on the screen saying “yes” they want a receipt. When I first encountered this new format, the cashier explained that they were saving paper. I asked her to put all my purchases in one bag. She said she couldn’t fit them and proceeded to load my purchases into two double-bagged plastic bags. I then discreetly put all the items into one bag and left three behind with other bags at another register. I (often) don’t have the energy to argue with people. At least not on something like this. Where the hell to even begin??

So what’s going on with Colette?

I feel like this post is overdue, if only that a longer post of some kind has been brewing in my semi-subconscious for awhile now. There’s a lot of different things I’d like to write about but rather than overwhelm myself (a tendency of mine), I think I will just write and see what happens.

Two or three years ago – I could figure out which if I really  had to – I went into winter feeling a sense of dread.  Although I am well-versed in the symptoms of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), I had no recollection of ever having felt that specific emotion in regard to the season before that year. I think it was because I have this unresolved problem in my life that has greatly impacted me, particularly quality of life. I have never named the problem in the blog and I don’t want or need to. (No one is dead, dying, or anything like that.) Two years ago I made real strides toward my attitude about the problem; if I couldn’t make it GO AWAY (it’s not under my control to do so), what could I do? I found better ways of coping and my attitude – while not delightful on this issue – has improved. That dread I felt two or three years ago, specifically as winter came on, has not returned.

I am a great believer in controlling what you can control in any given situation. (Yeah, yeah, I know people say you can always choose your attitude, but that’s a lot easier said than done, grumble, grumble.) In 2018 and again in 2019, I set “kinda sorta New Year’s resolutions” for myself, all things well within my control, and I have decidedly benefited from them. (I haven’t said much about the progress of my 2019 goals but while I haven’t nailed all of them down, I have done a lot, and maybe I’ll get to that in another post.) There’s things I’m doing all the time – eating well, staying in shape, maintaining an orderly life/home for a few – but the resolutions were/are about doing very specific things in addition to the “regular stuff.”  They force me to focus. To not drift. To challenge myself a bit.

I daresay I have a little kick in my step recently and almost feel if not excited, then almost welcoming, toward winter. I live where there are seasons, and while I adore summer above all, there are things to enjoy in each season, or to try to find to enjoy. A fault of mine is a tendency to believe winter comes immediately on the heels of summer. Namely, if summer is over, everything is about to go to hell in a hand basket. Not so! I paid attention to fall this year. I even liked it. (You can keep your sun-dropping-out-of-the-sky-at-4:30pm however. And I despise being cold, like Jan-Feb cold.)

A lot of things in my life are going right or at least are not going badly. There’s much to say for that, even though I, like many people, are quick to see what is wrong and perhaps to give it too much weight. The perfect life is not coming for me. I’m not waiting any more for it or any other pie-in-the-sky reality. This is my life. Please know these thoughts aren’t related to anybody else or social media (nowadays any malaise and dissatisfaction people feel is often attributed to comparing oneself to other people, especially those viewed on social media). I guess what I’m saying is that in younger years I was guilty, as are many, of waiting for things to happen in my life that would provide satisfaction or happiness or something along those lines. And this: if you live enough decades your life is bound to meander all around, metaphorically if not literally. You never reach a point and coast. I understand that now and more or less accept it.

When your energy is getting sucked up by bad stuff or nonsense, you don’t have enough leftover to better yourself or your life.  At least I don’t. Maybe that’s obvious but I don’t think I always understood that. I have more energy and initiative lately. For years, I think I’ve actively been clearing the nonsense from my life anywhere I can. I was always a straight-shooter but I have less and less tolerance for bullsh*t. I used to more or less jump when anybody wanted my attention or time. Over the years I trained myself to respond differently.  I freely give lots of my time and attention when I think it’s deserved. Or appreciated. Or worthwhile. I’m not too busy. I’ve never been “too busy.” Never wanna be either. That said, I have bumped myself to the top of my list. I pay attention to my needs first. Some of us don’t come by that naturally. It’s taken awhile.

 

 

On meeting a fox

Earlier today I approached the edge of a wooded area on foot and saw a fox, who was clearly surprised to see me. It turned tail and headed back into the woods a bit, then stopped, stood still, and looked at me. I just looked back, happy to see it, and trying to send “I come in peace” vibes. In this suburban area, foxes are not a wildly uncommon sight, but infrequent enough that I consider a sighting special. Plus, um, they don’t bother me or other people so far as I know – nobody is raising chickens or other livestock around here for them to attack and so forth – so I don’t have any reason to take issue with them.

The fox appeared to be an adult, in good health, not limping, bleeding, or frothing at the mouth. I mention all that because what the fox did next was very unusual in my estimation. It looked away from me, initially, nosing some low-lying vegetation and then trotted a bit further into the woods and lay down. I mean it curled up they way they do on TV! (TV is my reference point for fox and most wildlife behavior. I’ve only ever seen real-life foxes running away; that’s what they typically do when they see me or other humans to the best of my knowledge.) I couldn’t help it; although I’d been silent till that point, when the fox curled up on the ground, I automatically said, “Awww.” Mind you, it was still maintaining eye contact, but that comfort level it had, both surprised and pleased me.

In time I went on about my business nearby and when I looked again for it, the fox was trotting to a little hill where it looked back at me.  We made eye contact again for a moment and then went our separate ways.

 

Short Thought #245 (“Top Fan”)

On Facebook I follow a few famous people, not because I think we’re going to be friends but because I appreciate their comments or photos.  I am very liberal with my “likes” on posts (this requires merely pushing a button which essentially is saying “thumbs up”) and as a result Facebook has offered me a couple top fan badges as in “You’ve been recognized as one of [Famous Person’s] Top fans. Get your badge now.” This, from what I’ve seen, would make a small icon with the words top fan appear next to my name. I have not taken Facebook up on this dubious achievement.  All I really think it likely suggests to the celebrities is “top stalkers.”

IMG_20191109_104823_kindlephoto-597881I think I know how this tree feels.😐