This week, Charley was all about the woodstove. When she first arrived at the house last year, she loved the warmth of the stove, especially after surviving outside near the Lighthouse for the first nine months of her life during a cold winter. That stove must have been like a warm blanket of love for her.
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So at the time, I put a little cat bed in front of the stove, but she never really glommed onto it, for some reason. I think it’s because when that tile around the stove heats up, it creates the best heated floor ever.
She’s spent much of this week collapsed in a furry puddle on that tile, and why she doesn’t self-combust when the fire gets hot is beyond me.
But she gets very irritated when I put things in “her” spot. For instance, when the indoor woodpile gets low, I’ll stack the remaining indoor wood in front of the stove and burn that first. Then I’ll burn the new wood I’ve just brought into the house. Sometimes there’s snow on it, and it needs a little time to dry out.
But boy, does she give me dirty looks when there’s wood in her spot. Keep in mind there’s usually plenty of room for both her AND the wood, but she’s very territorial about her space there.
Sometimes I’ll stash my wet boots there to dry off after being outside. She doesn’t like that either. Not one bit.
But she makes peace with it. Sort of.
We really got in trouble when Will brought in the cushions he’d made for Les Jamieson’s fishing boat to dry off. He acquired the boat from Martha a few years back and is restoring it. Charley is not the least bit impressed.
One thing that did pry her away from the stove was when Mike Wells plowed the driveway. You might remember I was trying to decide whether to hire a professional or plow it myself with Tim’s old plow truck he got from Nick Kroupa. I hired a professional, which was a good decision. Plus, Charley finds it very entertaining, if not a bit disconcerting.
As for me, all of my widow friends (there’s a lot of us on the OMP) say the second year can be just as challenging (if not moreso) as the first year. I’m certainly finding that to be true. I think the first year, you’re just trying to survive and find a way forward without your soulmate, all of which gives you something to focus on. Also, during that first year, you’re probably more apt to give yourself time and space to grieve amidst being shell-shocked about the whole situation.
Then the second year comes along and reality sets in. I’m a firm believer in the thin veil between Heaven and Earth, so Tim is never that far away, in my view (and I’ve had plenty of things happen to support that theory). But you also realize that, yeah, this is the new normal, and you’re going to have to figure it out.
Also, when the second year comes along, you feel like you should be making more progress at getting your life together, but some days that’s just not possible. Then you’re sad, ticked off, and anxious/depressed that you’re not doing better.
So I try to get up every day and assess my emotions, then make a plan from there. I’ve found that it’s good to have a plan of action, lest I sit and stare at the fire all day. My morning routine is always the same: get up, throw some laundry in, make coffee, load or unload the dishwasher, clean the ashes out of the woodstove (I do this every day or two), bring wood in if necessary, get the fire going, and clean around the woodstove.
From there, I figure out if I have stuff to do in town or any meetings/events to go to (Township meetings, Old Mission Women’s Club, OMP Historical Society, yoga, church, etc.). I also figure out what I’m posting to the Gazette that day. As always, I have a list of one million stories, but if I can get three or four posted each week, that’s a win.
Grief has a way of dousing the flames of creativity, or even the ability to piece together a sentence. Especially when the person you’ve shared an office/life with for 42 years is no longer there. But I think I’m getting better on that score. Plus, when you’re self-employed, your brain is always working on things, even if you’re not sitting at your computer. Some of my best ideas emerge while I’m hiking the trails on the north end.
Talking to friends, however, I realize it’s not just me who’s having difficulties getting things done. I don’t know if this winter has been grayer than most winters, but it certainly seems that way, and people are feeling it. I’ve heard the words “wintering,” “hibernating” and “depressed” from a lot of people this winter. And honestly, a lot of us ARE grieving for lost loved ones or facing challenging life situations. Or we’re just anxious about the world in general.
So here’s my little motivational speech to all of us: Find or create a reason to get up every day. Set a goal or two each day. Even tiny goals are good. Give ourselves grace to get through whatever we’re going through. And know that whatever we’re feeling on any given day, it’s ok.
And just like my mom always said, I’ve also found that just getting outside and around other people is always a good thing. We really are all in this together.
Here’s a little video I took the other day during that snowstorm.
A NOTE FROM JANE: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers like the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, and magazines like Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So of course, I started my own newspaper. Because the Gazette is mainly reader-supported, I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks my way if I mention your event, your business, your organization or your news item, or if you simply love reading about what's happening on the Old Mission Peninsula. Check out the donation page here. Thank you so much for your support. -jb