when circumstances slow you down, stop and observe important stuff

Nothing like being forced into passivity by illness (or treating it) to make us sit still and notice the world around us. Most of the time, we’re just too busy to notice the little things that make life worth living in spite of how the world seems to be screwing up daily. And, being forced to lie on your keister for days at a time feeling lousy lets you see things that need to be done around the house, like “damn, that window needs to be washed,” and “when I feel better I’m going to straighten and dust all those crooked books on the cookbook shelf!” Why do things bug me the most when I’m unable to do them?

Thanks to Hubby’s new blog writing fever I’ve been able to devote much of my “feeling good” time to doing some of those things. Among my accomplishments are the most organized closets I’ve ever had. And I have a new color regimen planned for the guest bedroom which I can hardly wait to accomplish, I am redesigning the guest bathroom to transform it from a kid size bath (where even I, at 5’4″ have to bend over to wash my hands) of a ’50s style turquoise, to a more contemporary adult-sized fixtures and upgraded bathtub that will be fabulous–someday! All this while a contractor is preparing to knock down the wall of the master bedroom and enlarge it to Hubby’s specifications. Anything to keep me from worrying about which percent I’ll fit into when my chemo and radiation and the other stuff is done. I guess what is at issue here is that I have only today and tomorrow before I have to face another round of rotten stuff. I’m trying really hard to convince myself that this third round will be better!

It’s interesting how fast you can forget (almost) the pain and discomfort when you start feeling more normal, then as treatment day gets closer, the memories start to return. Needless to say I’m dreading things already, yet it’s hard to think about other things.During my not so good days, and after two full treatment rounds I’m seeing a pattern: a day or two feeling “semi normal”, then a week or so feeling lousy. During those times, I have two choice spots to vegetate from. My favorite, if I feel like sitting up, is the family room where the French doors and long side windows not only let me watch (but not hear) I-15 traffic, but the Great Salt Lake as well. What I really like is the narrow porch outside that let me hear and watch the walkers in the neighborhood pass by when the weather is fit. I can also watch little sparrows flit about looking for nesting materials and nesting sites. Like people, it seems those sweet little birds get all in a twit when too many of them come around at the same time. Like gangs defending their turf, they fight. They’ll spar mid-air and eventually chase the weaker ones off. So  like people they are. (I forgot to mention I’ve been reading a lot of history, too, “Hail to the Chief,” (the real story of 40 of our presidents), and “Lies My Teacher Told Me,” (a more complete history than that taught to most of us in public schools. to say more, I would digress, but I’ll have a lot more to say on this one of these days.)

One day, after I figured out that the birds were actually looking for more nesting materials than sites, I decided the might like some of the hair Hubby had clipped from my head that I’d saved (for what reason, I cannot tell you) in a plastic bag. When I felt like it, I went out and tucked some here and there in nooks and crannies I thought might attract their attention. For good measure I went down to my sewing room and salvaged those clipped threads I collect in a trashcan and tucked them in also. Last week I went out to see if I’d had any takers, imagining my soft blond hair and threads of various colors interwoven and keeping baby Sparrows all warm and happy while their parent were off gathering food for them. Disappointment is a weak word for what I felt when just about everything I’d tucked so carefully here and there seemed to be mostly intact. The word is rejected!

I looked about trying to see what it was that would attract so many sparrows to our porch since they obviously didn’t care for my suggestions of thread and hair. What did they find so attractive that they’d fight and chase each other and act like little sh*t a**es over? I found it hard to believe when I figured it out. It was the fake bamboo roll-up shades Hubby installed (on the porch) so we could block the sun from the family room during the spring and summer. They were shredding the edges, presumably stealing it for some nest function or other. So now instead of seeing tiny baby birds all snug and warm in hair interwoven with colorful threads, I instead imagine tiny shards of sharp plastic along with sticks  and whatever else Sparrows use to build nests poking their babies little bellies.

I see my time for semi-normal activity has dwindled down now to little more than a day and a half. As Snuffy (Smith from the old-time funnies) used to say: “time’s a wasting.” I hope to be back sooner than later. In the meantime, I’ll keep coaxing Hubby to remind you all that I’m still hanging in there.

7 thoughts on “when circumstances slow you down, stop and observe important stuff

  1. The birds are a metaphor for just about everything you can imagine Alice. Like why does Tin want to rub his finger in guano rather than smell a delicious mock orange blossom? Or why is it that youth is wasted on the young? Or that in order to become independent the first person you kick is the one who got you there (read: mother)? Or why blood doesn’t necessarily signify good when it comes to relations? In the words of the birds, when life gives you beautiful hair and thread, go for the blinds, they’re more difficult to get at, they’ll not provide you any comfort, they’re not as attractive, so certainly they are reminders of the pricks you have to deal with in this good ole life.

    I’m hoping your round three is smoother, not that I want you to get used to chemo or get better at it, I’m just wanting you to quit being undone by it.

  2. Well, don’t they know that fine hair and pretty threads are far far better things? Yes, we here are to the picking colors stage with the downstairs bath.

    Even when you are feeling awful, we are right there with you. 🙂

  3. Wait, what? You aren’t really spending “feeling good time” on dusting bookshelves, are you? I hope now!

    We have lots of sparrows in our garden and at the moment they are making quite a racket! Because we finally had a sunny day, I sat out by the barbecue to write and enjoy the sun a bit … I ended up coming inside because they were chattering so loudly, I couldn’t hear myself think!

  4. It was good to hear from you, Alice. You have a way of writing that brings a good picture to my mind. Your nice chair on the porch sounds inviting and I never tire of watching the birds in our back yard so I can easily imagine yours. Some morning doves have taken up residency in the tree just outside our bedroom window and although I like to hear them calling (yes I say calling because they certainly don’t “tweet”) in their loud voices they sometimes do it at inconvenient times of the day and they like to shout it over and over. I still enjoy having them there, though. They are good neighbors.

    I wish I could wiggle my nose and make your next round of chemo more pleasant … but if I could do that I would wiggle my nose and make the whole thing go away. I was thinking of you this this morning and how quickly things change in our lives and we have to adapt and change course fast. A friend of ours has a neighbor whose little girl was attacked by a pitt bull yesterday and it is absolutely horrific. She is four years old and was in surgery on her face for 6 hours. The picture of her face is like a road map of stitches. She will take lots of plastic surgeries and I can’t even begin to guess the emotional turmoil in her little mind or that of her mother who was trying to fight the dog off. When these things happen we just go on living and and learn to cope, don’t we? There is no choice but to gird up and face it. I know you will find the strength to get through yours and my thoughts and prayers are with you. I love you my cyber friend!

  5. I noticed – many, many years ago – that when I couldn’t do something, I really, really wanted to do it. Those times when I knew I could accomplish an unwanted task, I’d do everything in my power to ignore that task. (Dust balls floating under the bed, dried up toothpaste in the sink…)
    Oh well, such is life and aren’t we lucky to be living it, even with the medical treatments!
    Know that you’re both in our thoughts and our prayers.

  6. I’m so happy to read your post. I’m glad to know you have enough energy to do all those organizing things. It must feel good to have control over something.

    The birds in my yard include one or more pairs of cardinals. They have a very different call than the sparrows. I love watching them, particularly the females, beautifully, subtly colored. I’ll try to take a picture to send you.


  7. It’s been so long since we’ve corresponded. Had no idea that you are in the midst of cancer treatments. Sounds as if you’ll be well, but chemo is awful. My very best to you and to your family. It’s been lovely to read half a dozen posts and hear from your husband as well.

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