Life as a Picnic

Imagine your life spread upon a picnic blanket. You have the picnic of tasty foods (or bucket of chicken). There is a small cooler of chilled drinks (be they alcoholic or non-alcoholic). There are serving pieces and napkins. Perhaps in one corner some bug repellant if you picnic in that sort of terrain. Everything is laid out for a lovely time of retirement.

Or in their case, just peanut butter sandwiches. He does not look impressed!

And then storm clouds roll in (call them Covid-19 and aging). For the picnic scenario, everything is hastily packed, albeit not as neatly as when you left home, the blanket is taken up and shaken to remove cut blades of grass and any critters and you run off to your vehicle.

2020- 2021 was similar for my husband and me. We were holding our own against Covid-19 entering our household. We wore masks, washed our hands, kept our distance from others and prayed for no infection.  There was less success with the aging challenge.  We were comfy in our ranch on the edge of the woods; however, the steps to the basement proved an increasing challenge for reaching the laundry, sewing room, storage and work bench area.

Those factors worked together to motivate us to shake off our inertia. (inertia: Resistance or disinclination to motion, action, or change OR tendency of a body at rest to remain at rest unless acted upon by an outside force.) I had been putting forth the idea since 2019 that we need to downsize before we get any older!

The search began for a newer ranch house with a laundry room located on the ground floor. There just was no available real estate fitting that description!  So, we were led to build a new house with those requirements. We did not pack up hastily as with the thunderstorm image, but we did pack up, give away, throw away, donate, store a little bit and basically pare down all our belongings!

We found a small new subdivision, with mostly retired but not totally older folks. Sidewalks and the ability to walk to the post office. If we change banks we can walk to the bank, too. Best of all an award-winning donut shop is within walking distance, too!

Update continues tomorrow!

So far

We were grieving having to leave our woods on the back hill. In this, too, the Lord took care of us! The neighbor (Angela) has a lovely yard. Turns out she was in grief when they built our subdivision and removed the trees that used to stand on the edge of her property before the farmland began. Told me she came home from work one day and was in shock that the woods were just gone. I shared with her that we are grateful for her large trees and the wildlife that likes her yard.

Now I am rejoicing in her giant maple trees. There is marshy ground that runs between our property lines. She said it got much worse when they took all the trees down. Have no idea how we can garden there? Maybe a weeping willow and some pussy willow shrubs? I think day lilies like wet ground, too. Time will tell.

View from our dining room table.

I know that is not a good photo because of the screen, but we were delighted to see a Doe and Fawn in Angela’s yard one day. The rabbits abound out there. I now understand better the saying about breeding like bunnies!

We have seen rabbits, several hawks, song birds, squirrels, four spot pennant dragonfly and many damselflies.

Cautious Doe watching out for her Fawn. The stake is the corner of our lot.

We already had gutter guards put on due to the abundance of maple seeds clogging the gutters. In southwest Ohio when you do not have a yard yet and it rains really hard, this is what you get!

The landscape company came today, but they had the wrong plants for us. Shucks!! We are hoping to get plants and sod soon.

Lord of rain and sky and Ohio clay, we thank You for this home and the challenges of moving and meeting new neighbors.

Moving In

Here are a few photos from our moving in experience. The piggy my mother used as a cookie jar made it in tact. Ellie and I had packed it and hoped it would be fine.

Thank goodness for bubble wrap and tape! Lizzie helped unpack and Lucky loved that!

Jeff had uprooted plants for us and planted them in buckets that he drilled holes in. I was uncertain if my 20+ year old rose would transplant again?

She made it!
This is where walkway meets the driveway. Lucky thinks this water tastes best!

So yes, there is more photo material to share with you. I usually have a start and stop reentry. Hope to be more consistent soon! We are so grateful for our new home!

Chronic Pain Coping

Around 2013 I copied this from a library book. I have tried to find the title and author online and cannot, thus I have no author to credit.

These are not based on 12 Steps, but steps for coping.

  1. Accept the fact of having chronic pain. (That is enough to make one gag.)
  2. Set specific goals for work, hobbies and social activities toward which you will work.
  3. Let yourself get angry at your pain if it seems to be getting the best of you.
  4. Take your analgesics on a strict time schedule, and then taper off as directed until you are no longer taking any.
  5. Get in the best physical shape possible, and keep fit.
  6. Learn how to relax, and practice relaxation techniques regularly.
  7. Keep yourself busy.
  8. Pace your activities.
  9. Have your family and friends support only your healthy behavior, not your invalidism.
  10. Be open and reasonable with your doctor.
  11. Practice effective empathy with others having pain problems.
  12. Remain hopeful.

My first response after typing these steps is “I will with God’s help.” Over the years (since diagnosis in 1990s) I have tried to learn and practice these things. Would love to brag I have mastered them all. I have NOT!

Yep, something like this during a fibrmyalgia flare!

Like Paul I continue to try to learn to yield myself to God and stay responsible to bring my flesh under control. God will not magically take care of this for me. He requires my cooperation.

But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

1 Corinthians 9:27 NKJV

Along with my body, I must discipline my mind, my will and my emotions to bring honor to God as long as I live!

In the Episcopalian Book of Common Prayers you can find the Baptismal Covenant. After each declaration the congregation says, “I will with God’s help.” I believe that coping with chronic pain requires my focus upon the goals of this covenant too if I am to be truly successful.

Celebrant	Will you continue in the apostles' teaching and
fellowship, in the breaking of the bread, and in the
People	I will, with God's help.
Celebrant	Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever
you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?
People	I will, with God's help.

Celebrant	Will you proclaim by word and example the Good
News of God in Christ?
People	I will, with God's help.
Celebrant	Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving
your neighbor as yourself?
People	I will, with God's help.
Celebrant	Will you strive for justice and peace among all
people, and respect the dignity of every human
People	I will, with God's help.

May the Lord bless you as you face your own struggles. We are all broken and need His help!

Consistent self-care is not selfish. Consistent self-care for me is a holy obligation. "These skills protect us by building inner resilience that shields us from most problems and enables us to bounce back from the rest."  Just do your best and lean hard upon the Lord.

So we moved and by the second day, May 13, I had trashed my back. Really did it the worse than ever before.  That slowed down unpacking for certain! I had lots and lots of help, but I did not pace myself well, I did not remember not to bend over. I did lots of things wrong. Degenerative disc disease is one of the reasons we moved. On June 15 I had another epidural. Trying to behave now. Time will tell if that is all the treatment I need. Please pray for me!

Hope those coping steps help any of you who also suffer from chronic pain. Twelve step programs often repeat, "It works if you work it!"

“Honey, We’re Home!!”

Hello my family, friends and followers! Yep, we signed the contract November 18. The moving truck delivered our household belongings on May 12. We went into a whirlwind like the Tansmanian Devil chasing after disorder and chaos, if they were in the persons of Daffy and Bugs! First ten seconds is my image of us. Then when Bugs calls the Taz Baggy eyes is when we crashed and burned from trying to get too much done!

So now we are unpacked about 85%. Bob is working in the garage today in anticipation of Harbor Freight delivering his new workbench. Wish it had been here the last couple weeks for him!

We have filled cabinets and then gone back and rearranged them as we have lived here. The first few times trying to cook I felt like Dora the Explorer! Neither of us allowed the other to ask “Where is …” the first 2 weeks here.

We have meet many, many neighbors, especially out walking on cooler days. None of us have lived here for more than 18 months. We began collecting names and house numbers to try to keep people straight in our brains.

The house is wonderful. We are finding as Bob puts up a few extra wire shelves in the closets that we might have more space than we imagined! Once his workbench arrives and rakes and mops get put up on the garage walls we will know more about that. Do not have both cars in garage yet.

Our yard is dirt. Evidently, some time, the landscape company will bring plants and follow that in a few days with sod. We will then be responsible to keep that sod moist so it can get established. The streets are packed with dirt from construction trucks. So on dry days there are dust storms and on wet days there are mud rivers. The 2-1/2+ inches of rain over the weekend really helped clean the streets! Our driveway is partially filled with picnic table, garbage and recycling cans, plants waiting to go in the ground and one of the cars.

We are home. We are grateful and joyous. We are amazed. No rain during the move. No cicadas during the move (or even in this neighborhood). No injuries during the move.

We give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His love endures forever.