It wasn’t a deluge. I didn’t try to catch it in a paper cup. It was necessary.
I keep a huge Kohl’s plastic bag in my work tote for occasions like this. When the weatherman gets it wrong. I carry a ball cap, too, even with the lack of thick hair to keep it on when the wind picks up. I really don’t care if my head gets wet, but I’ve noticed that hair actually does a pretty good job of keeping the water from running down your face. So, capping it is.
I’m sure I look a looney in my get up. I wear my go-to bonnet underneath my raincoat hood. My pea-head doesn’t hold up to the assumption that if you wear a larger size, your head must be larger-than-normal, too. Here’s the descript: Without the head help, looking straight ahead, I can only see from my nose down.
The sleeves are also about 2 inches too long. Helpfully, they keep at least one hand from cold-water pruning. The other one hoists my baggage. I likely drag along too much stuff for my two-days-per-week journey.
In my defense, I might want or need: phone charger, ear phones, sanitizer, chap stick, face powder that I could probably leave home since I have not used it in over a year. Also, coupons, reference paperwork, tissues, plastic bags, ball cap and a handkerchief. Paperclips, two pens, in case one does not work. Plus, the regular house keys, office keys, lunch box, water bottle, phone and masks. Yes, plural.
Anyway, yesterday. On my way out of my windowless work space, I hadn’t assessed the situation. Which led to having to assemble myself in the see-through vestibule. Bright pink, nylon-raincoat flap engaged, faded bluish bill sticking out, primed me for the silly-looking 5-minute trek home began.
That’s when I started thinking.
When was the last time I walked in the rain on-purpose? I knew it might rain today. Walking was a risk; a logic-balanced choice, though. Michigan Construction Season is in full-swing. It would take me 15-20 minutes to drive the alternate ‘detour’ route.
Two years ago, I regularly walked in the evening and on weekends. Walked the long way to work, 4-5 times a week. Checking my photos, it looks like my last deliberate rain-tread was a weekend morning. May 2019. Based on my shots, I’m sure it wasn’t a hard rain. Not likely was a drizzle, either. I remember making the choice to go.
I took a lot of rain-brightened pictures of flowers and leaves. Overcast skies and water make nature’s colors pop. I enjoyed the way the misty air kissed my skin.
Maybe it’s time to stop the basement cycle. I don’t take any photos down there on my perpetually-circular treadmill trips.
I’m kinda wishing for a wet morning this weekend. Just so I can conquer the walk, for the first time this year.
And ramble some. And take some cheery rain-soaked photos.
I guess because it’s kind of self-discouraging to talk yourself down from being excited about getting “up to 20 minutes,” 10 years after you were a 50-minute regular.
Upside – I’ve got a new 2020 playlist going, though. (a few links below.)
January 24, 2017: Another 30 seconds
The treadmill followed us to Adrian, where it sat in the den gathering dust.
Until late 2005, when it became clear Jeff would never be able to return to work. I think up until this time, he thought he’d be able to beat it.
Despite medications and injections, his blood sugar averaged 350. What we hoped was temporary neuropathy, turned into a permanent nightmare. Unhealable ulcers covered his legs, which were in danger. Poor circulation and deep wounds prompted one doctor to speculate on the future, citing potential, eventual amputation.
Jeff wasn’t depressed. I was terrified. Carrying 298.7 pounds on a 5’3” frame, I realized I was in no shape to help if it came to that. I wasn’t concentrating on taking baby steps. I didn’t have to. My body determined my pace.
It seems incredible to me now that one full minute was as far as I got the first day. Within two weeks though, I had achieved a regular, comfortable 3-minutes. I mean comfortable as in not gasping for breath, seeing little black spots or needing to chug a glass of orange juice to counteract my blood sugar drops from the exertion.
I’d been to my yearly physical, which I tried to avoid by only going every two or three years. I was declared obese, of course, and pre-diabetic which believe it or not was a shock to me. Wearing a size 28 should have been a clue, but that’s not how I saw myself, mostly because that’s not how Jeff saw me, either.
We developed an evening routine. I would come home from work, change my clothes and treadmill for 3 minutes, sweating horrifically. By the time I’d finished my shower, picked out my work clothes for the next day, Jeff would have dinner ready.
One evening, Jeff stuck his head through the kitchen pass-through. “How many minutes do you have left?” he asked.
“I only have 30 seconds,” I answered.
“Well,” Jeff said, “dinner’s not ready, yet. You can do an extra 30 seconds.”
I might have still had my crabby pants on from work, but I took umbrage. There I was sweating my brains out, seeing the light at the end of the torturous treadmill tunnel and he thinks I’ve got it in me to go another 30 seconds?
But, what I said, was, “Oh, really? Another 30 seconds? You get over here and do 30 seconds if you think it’s so easy!”
Of course, there were a few things wrong with my response. Jeff hadn’t actually implied I was slacking. He hadn’t said he thought it’d be easy. And it was a ridiculously inappropriate suggestion since his feet were continuously painful and he had a great deal of trouble walking.
But, Jeff just laughed. He found it endlessly amusing when I became flustered or got feisty. He wasn’t at all offended . And because that distinctive laugh was unavoidably contagious, I ended up laughing, too.
As Jeff wiped the doubled-over, guffawing tears from his eyes, I glanced down at LED readout.
“4 minutes!” I shouted in astonishment. “See?” Jeff said. “I knew you could do it.”
Enjoy this Week’s Songs for Soul Survivors: (aka playlisting, treadmill time.) @ Knabble-Podcast: Knabble-Pod
Certain times a year, the regrets really pile up. Lately, I’m practically buried.
So many things went wrong. Small things became disproportionate disasters. Mostly, due to my stubbornness, but always with help from Jeff.
I’m being stubborn again, all by myself. Memories are flying in from all directions and I want to accurately order them. Actually, I feel I have to accurately order them. I so want to skip over the regrets. I do want to include them, too. Our story’s weave will be weak without them.
Apologizing to people who may not have known they were slighted won’t make me feel better. Probably won’t make them feel any better, either.
I’m also a bit uninspired from having to sort through some rather uninspiring parts of my recent life. It would be nice to be self-inspired, but that’s not working so well.
Pushing a stalled car may get you somewhere, but it’s still going to be stalled when you get there. I’m trying but I could use a little outside inspiration… and a magic wand.
In the meantime, while I’m unrealistically waiting for my thoughts to spring from my being onto paper or into my computer, I’ll tell you about the start of something. But first, let me tell you about the start of the start of our most important journey.
About Nannee, Mary Vincze was a strong woman with a strong faith. She buried her husband young and lost her only child, her daughter Sally. They were close and I do believe that she struggled, although she would never admit it. Nannee was a smart woman, worldly wise, I’d say. She’d seen much in her lifetime; poverty and boons, war and peace, births and deaths.
She never hesitated to put a positive spin on any situation, often quoting condensed bible verses. When Jeff and I would take her to church, she’d always advise me that I could indeed take communion because it was “open to anyone.” I’d just smile politely and shake my head, “No.”
I’m obsessed with green. Every shade, every texture is mesmerizing. Pines on Esch and Eisenhower; Oaks and Maples and Birch on Hayes and King George. Shimmering in the morning or in swaying at sunset, they never stand still. Perhaps, it’s the movement that makes them fascinating; creating moments that just aren’t capture-able, at least not on my camera.
Due to a dinged and perpetually smudged screen, it’s not easy to pause the mapping app, but logic loses to chance creativity. I keep stopping short; sometimes fighting a little longer and then sheepishly circling back. Frequently unable to employ an appropriate amount stealth, I am at times, forced to speed-walk on by fear of an audience, and my own nervousness regarding the previously mentioned questionable practice of photographing other people’s property.
It only matters because I want to share them. If I were content keeping them to myself, I probably wouldn’t try so hard. But now that I’ve noticed them, they need to be preserved.
A few weeks ago, luck of timing landed me rounding the bend and encountering the gardener tending on the same morning. I really do try not to impose, but allow myself permission when it may mean something. So, I compliment the impact and offer thanks for the effort. I can’t really tell if the lack of much of a response is from being startled, suspicious or hunched over pulling weeds in a way that might not allow enough air for conversation. No matter. I hope she enjoys the memory later, as much as I enjoyed that moment in the present.
On another day, somewhere between late afternoon and early evening, I stop at the corner again, and hatch a plan I didn’t know was even incubating. Close-up photographing to the best of my phone camera’s ability, a little green light dings in my head. Go, go, go! I do. In cartoon mode, suddenly the greens are popping. The purples and the pinks, the yellows, whites and red appear in abstract over definitive shades of green. My disappointment in trees and leaves and needles is borne from that lack of clear contrast. There’s no way to convey the shades of green that either only I can see, or actually require in-person observance.
Cartooning creates interesting abstracts that still don’t capture the subtle shades. It does, however, result in inspiring impressions of a well-planned corner garden ready to greet neighbors and travelers. I’m pleased with the color-clumps, vague shapes, and impressions, because that is what it all boils down to anyway – personal perspective.
It’s like those impressive vacation photos that seem magnificent, but often are belittled by the phrase, “The pictures don’t do it justice.” There’s no way to convey a million colors through one electronic eye. You had to be there, which leads me to this. I guessing I’m being there more often; regularly. I still want to take it with me; just in case I never see so many green leave rivers again.
The hard part is being content with memories. The responsibility part is encouraging others to do the same. There will always be more richness in person, so walk with purpose. The memory of the experience, enamorable and elegant, undoubtedly makes the journey more colorful.