Monday, December 30, 2013

Great White North? Yeah, Right

We don't really get serious winter up here anymore. I forget that during the months between May and December. I always get my hopes up. I remember back when I first moved north back in 1989. That winter I saw multiple storms drop more than two feet of snow with each passing storm. Snow drifts over my head. In January we had a week where the daytime highs were never above zero. It was my first winter outside of Miami, FL. I was so excited.

Every winter in the Northeast has been less impressive than the one that preceded it since then. What I always overlook is that nasty grey/black dirtiness that accompanies the snow. When I lived in Utah, the snow was white and fluffy. VERY fluffy. The sun would come out after the storm abated. You could sweep the snow off your steps with a broom. Even when the snow was a foot deep, it was always fluffy. The roads would be free of snow usually within a day or so. The only downside was that at night, the preponderance of of black ice was insane. I swore off driving through the canyons at night after seeing accident after accident.

Aurora found this massive pile of "Christmas" snow piled up in the parking lot of our relatively local outlet mall. Grey day, grey snow. Yay, holiday spirit! Since then, it has rained almost daily. Rain... in December. Sheesh. Makes me excited to move to Seattle where the rain is rain and the green sticks around all year.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

You'd Think, After All This Time...

You would think, after all this time, that I would be done feeling and thinking about the coma experience. For the most part, those memories are safely boxed up and set on a shelf. Every now and then, something jogs my memory and that flood washes over me. Tonight I was listening to music as we put away the remains from our roasted turkey dinner. Lyle Lovett was singing "Church" and we were singing along... "it's time for dinner now let's go eat." It reminded me of the Thanksgiving we spent with some friends of ours four years ago.

I had been home from the hospital only a few weeks. My strength was almost non-existent. I was struggling with some of the logistical basics of driving and getting around town. We had to cancel our holiday dinner plans with my in-laws simply because I couldn't handle the drive to their home, an hour away. I simply lacked the stamina to make the journey.

A couple of our friends who we knew through the craft community (having done shows together for years) invited us to their home for the holiday dinner. I have never been one to dive headfirst into anyone's family traditions... I am just not a big "joiner". Holidays with family I can usually manage, but with relative strangers I was expecting a fair bit of anxiety. Lyle Lovett was playing through their sound system while we enjoyed our evening. The gathering was wonderful. The meal was splendid. The company was superb. At the end of the night, Nancy and I drove home feeling very cared for. All in all, it was a great Thanksgiving.

Less than a year later I was told by them that they couldn't be my friend anymore.

Lyle Lovett was playing "Church" when I read that email from them.

No explanation. Just: I can't be friends with you anymore. Click.

Four years on now, I still wrestle with my feelings around this. I have no resolution. There is no closure. They slammed the door shut and locked me out of the rest of the experience. Gives fear of conflict a whole new meaning.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Broad Side of a Barn

As I drove home in the gentle snowfall yesterday, I stopped beside this barn. I marveled at the white roof covered in snow, against the white sky, against the white field, with still more white snow falling. It gave the barn boards something to stand out against. Something about those openings between the boards... like missing teeth in an otherwise closed mouth... just spoke to me. The lightning rods on the peak of the roof, poking up into the white sky like porcupine quills embedded in cotton.... I guess this study in contrasts is giving me more ideas to play with.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

And To Think, This Will All Be Gone...

It is hard to imagine that in a few days, all of this snow will have melted. There is cause for concern over the potential for flooding in low lying areas and in creeks where ice dams may occur. A few days ago, we were living in the single digits. By this weekend, it will be above freezing even at night. I figured I should get outside and shoot today, while there was still white stuff all over the place. Naturally, the sky opened up and obliged me with lots of more flying white stuff. Yay.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


We all have different ways and reasons for celebrating. I took these images a little over four years ago, on the day before I left the hospital after the month-long coma and the month in rehab, relearning how to walk, eat, ect. It wasn't a celebratory time. And yet we celebrated. I was never more ready to get on with my life. These horrible, out of focus, low-res images give you a tiny taste of my world for over a month (once I was awake). Thankfully, Nancy didn't take any photographs of me during the coma. I don't think I could have handled that.

So what do we celebrate? We celebrate the fact that I didn't end up in this wheelchair for the rest of my life the way the doctors originally said I would. They were sure at the very least, I would need a walker for day to day use. I walked out of the hospital under my own power, with ski poles in each hand.

I am grateful not to have to have someone bring me ice water with a straw all the time. I'm thrilled to be able to celebrate not needing a cane to walk to the bathroom. Or having to call for a nurse so I can pee.

I celebrate being able to thermo-regulate on my own now. Not needing a huge fan in my room to cool me off is a big deal. Not needing ice water all the time is a relief. For the longest time, I was sure this would be a permanent fixture in my life.

So we celebrate different stuff this time of year. It isn't about the tree (which we don't have) or the ornaments or sparkly lights. It isn't about the presents we struggle to figure out how to pay for. Instead we revel in my recovery... in being alive and able to walk without fear of dropping dead. When I went out for a walk last night at 9pm, it was 4 degrees. Last year I would have been afraid of what that would do to my heart. Now, I figure it is time to push on. As the weather warms up this week and the snow melts I want to get out on my bike to ride some more. In December, in upstate NY... it sure seems like an odd way to celebrate the holidays, but there you have it.