Yes. I know. I’ve not been diligent in keeping up the blog. It’s been a rough two months. And it started out so innocuously. But once it began, it started building up steam the same way a little snowball turns into an avalanche.
In my last post at the end of September. I mentioned how much I was looking forward to the lunar eclipse. That I was going to try to get some photographs. I tried. I failed miserably. I didn’t properly prepare for the event … couldn’t remember how to set the camera (or even what the proper settings were) … and then wound up missing most of a beautiful celestial event.
About the same time, an old client emailed me. I had done a one-off project for her at the end of last summer. I created an intricate budget spreadsheet with some complicated macros that enabled someone to enter a bunch of data in one central location that would then propagate through multiple tabs in the spreadsheet. She said she needed a simple update, but after receiving her information, it was obvious that the requirement was well beyond “simple”. To make a long story short, we agreed to a smaller scope of work after I explained the issues to her. I then proceeded to turn about 2 days of work into over a week of fretting, delay, working myself up enough to do it in small chunks … and getting angrier and angrier at her and myself. I was angry at myself for having anticipated this possibility when designing the first program and recommending an approach that would address something like this happening. And I was angry at her because she wasn’t willing to approve the additional hours it would have taken to do it right the first time! And then angry at myself again for not knowing how to get her to see the short-sightedness of her decision.
So I delivered the project at a reduced scope. The little bit of money that came in paled in comparison to the mental and physical toll it took on me. I think most other people would probably have been able to let it go. If there was any “fault” in the project needing a major redesign, it was hers for not saying “do it” when I made the original recommendation. Instead, I felt totally responsible.
Multiple other things happened after that:
1) The issue I was having with my leg continued to get worse. I thought the pain I was experiencinb in Pagosa Springs was due to lying on a cold air mattress. It got worse, then moved from my hip to my knee. While the pain has subsided to a degree, it’s still there. I’ve been walking with a very noticeable limp and my knee keeps buckling on me. I’m going to sign up for health insurance under the ACA that will go into effect come the new year. In the meanwhile, I’m grimacing and bearing it.
2) Frank came up lame, too. On the trip from Colorado to Texas, we stopped to visit Palo Duro Canyon outside Amarillo and Frank took a bad fall as he was trying to beat me out of the car. HIS leg buckled underneath him and he limped badly for a few days. He seems to be over that, except that he’s developed a trick knee. Every now and then he’ll come up lame as he’s running around. I brought him into the vet to have it looked at, but they couldn’t find anything wrong with him … and HIS health plan won’t allow another xray until January. It doesn’t seem to stress him out too much though. The brisk, morning temperatures have him galivanting around like he’s Fran Tarkenton in his early days!
3) My tent door failed. The zipper stopped meshing the teeth, leaving an open swath behind it instead of closing them together. Coleman agreed to replace the tent, but they were out of stock until late spring. I won’t go into everything about that experience right now. It’s too convoluted. In short, they agreed to refund my money, were very deceitful in our dealings, and caused a great deal of anxiety and upset. The tent door failed one month ago today. I only received my refund yesterday after weeks of intransigence and delay.
4) Four days after the tent door failed, we found ourselves right in the middle of all the storms that hit southern Texas. By this time, we were at Lake Corpus Christi State Park. The police told me I should leave the area because of flooding risk. I cleared out the tent, packed Frank and myself into the car and headed to a motel about 20 miles away. Before leaving, I duct taped the entire door to keep water from coming in … to no avail. When we returned a couple days later, the duct tape hadn’t held and there was about 5-6 inches of water inside the tent, which had collapsed in the storm and was rendered unusable. I decided to leave early for our next stop – the Motel 6 in South Padre Island, which meant 3 additional unbudgeted nights of motels. The unanticipated motel costs, combined with having to replace the tent on my own dime (since Coleman wasn’t responding on a timely basis) meant I had to reach into my 401(k), which is skinny enough as it is.
5) Our next stop after the motel was an RV park and campground in Mission, TX. It had received an “8 out of 10” rating on the review site I used to do my research back in January. I think they dropped a zero on the second number … 8 out of 100 would have been more appropriate in my book. The camp was fairly run down and greatly in need of maintenance. There was another problem, too – when I stood there surveying my individual campsite, I felt something on my legs. Looking down, I discovered that mosquitos had begun feeding on all but about 4 square inches of my legs! That was enough for me! I went back to the office, told them I couldn’t stay, and negotiated a refund of all but $35 of what I had paid for our stay. Of course, that left us having to scramble again. We found another park, which has worked out quite well so far. The park is very clean, few people are here and the host couple are really good people!
6) I’m enterng a time of year that has historically presented challenges for me. The holidays have never been a particularly happy time. Quite the opposite. Holidays meant family get togethers, more alcohol, more beatings, more guilt at not being able to be festive when all those around me were having so much fun. I’ve had a lot of problems getting past that as an adult. To add to it, I came up on the one year anniversary of when I decided in Charleston to end my life. I’ve tried to turn that into a positive. It’s been tough.
So there you have it – a brief synopsis of what’s gone on during my absence from the blog.
For the last two weeks, I’ve been sitting in my camp chair under a banyan tree, trying to recapture the “renewal” that was going on during the first part of my Colorado stay. I HAVE been working to look at things differently, with the help of many dear friends, both online and off. Friends that have offered encouragegment throughout all this crap. Larry in particular. He pointed out that this was the third time in six months that my campsite plans took a turn … and each time, it worked out for the better. The other night, he said, “if only you could reprogram your gut so that insted of feeling anxiety, anger and fear, you could rely on it all having worked out before.” Yep. If only. But he’s right. I wrote that down on a piece of paper and taped it to my dashboard – “It’s all worked out before. Trust that it will work out again!” We’ll see if that helps.
I tell myself that the tent door failing was really a blessing in disguise. If it hadn’t failed when it did … BEFORE the storms hit at Lake Corpus Christi … Coleman would not have refunded my purchase price. A tent door failing on its own was under warranty. A tent collapsing from a storm wasn’t. Yep. “It’s all worked out before. Trust that it will work out again!”
So that’s where I am. I’ll have more positive stuff on my next post.
One last thing. I don’t know where I’d be if it weren’t for Frank. He’s kept me afloat with his innate joy and unconditioinal love. Here’s a link to a little video I took a couple of days ago. Te weather changed … it cooled off quite a bit and we had really strong winds come through the area. It brought out “Frisky Frank”. He started running around the campsite in wild abandon, which in turn brought huge guffaws out of me – the first time in quite a while I laughed that hard. He’s an amazing companion!