Jilly D.

Archive for February, 2011|Monthly archive page

Linda please tell Sam how much I miss him

In Anniversary and memorials, Grief, Health, Signs from beyond, The Farm on February 19, 2011 at 12:32 am

Linda and Donny Gunning were sweethearts. And dairy farmers. And parents, and grandparents. Linda and Donny were good neighbors. Sweet memories the scent of newly mown hay linger in my mind. I tasted fresh raw milk. Sunset coming on and Donny still plowing up ground. Linda laughing while we went swimming.

Donny Gunning died 9 years ago on Valetine’s Day. Broke Linda’s heart. Sam lost a friend. He was 57 years old; so was Sam when he died.

Linda got pneumonia earlier this month. On the 12th she went to the hospital and on the 14th she was put in the same ICU room where Donny died 9 years earlier.

Funeral Services will be Sunday at 3 pm in Enfield.


Essential Rumi

In Mourning, Signs from beyond on February 15, 2011 at 1:41 pm

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness

some momentary awareness comes

as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture,

still, treat each guest honorably.

he may be clearing you out

for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

meet them at the door laughing,

and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.

Rumi (translation by Coleman Barks)

Princess of Pain

In Mourning on February 13, 2011 at 1:26 am

Okay the daily chronicle of my grunts and groans grows old. I get that. What surprises me is how I take a step back and hear my voice as Sam’s.

Cousin Tommy used to make fun of Sam for acting old well before his years. An old soul in a young man’s body, Sam was. Thomas heard more of his complaints than any other living being. And what an earful that must have been.

I heard my share of Sam’s personal woes. The weather sucks. Not a damn thing you can do about it. His ex-wife wants more support money; she won’t get any more. So-and-so owes me money but seems to have forgotten.

He told me things about people who had treated him badly; betrayal, violence, thievery. A lifetime of heartbreak. I’d already fallen in love. It made me mad. I won’t ever be able to forgive some of his “friends” for their slights. I don’t need to forgive them. That’s not my job. I do need to let go of that anguish he suffered because the world was so cruel to him.

He was the Prince of Bummers. And I was his frog. He kissed me.

Stumbling and Snowbanks

In Health, Mourning, Time and seasons on February 10, 2011 at 2:32 am

To walk gently on the snow

Stumbling. Falling down. Unable to stand comfortably. The fear of tumbling to the ground and not being able to get up is a real one for me outside. I wear sturdy shoes and boots; even have Yak Trax attached to grip the ice and snow. Simply put: I am not steady.

Suddenly I’m an old lady. I catch a glimpse of my reflection dragging my feet in half-steps; tentative, moaning in pain and stressed from an anticipatory slip. Will winter never end?

My physical challenges are somatic metaphors for my personal life. There’s no firm ground to stand upon. Almost 17 months later and I still feel as though the rug got pulled out from under my feet. Fibromyalgia symptoms this bitter winter are expressions of the pain I still suffer from Sam’s death. Some days I feel crippled by this second winter without him.

Hard for me to differentiate the aches from angst, the pains from the pangs, the injuries from the illness. It all feels bad. And it makes me feel old.

I drop a pen on the floor and I tell myself I can pick it up later. When I do bend down, I look around to make sure I do everything I need to down there before I try to get up.

Tai Chi. Island Health & Fitness. Cranio-Sacral Massage Therapy. Aromatherapy. Hydrotherapy.

None of above can cure me of being a klutz; only treat the symptoms resulting from my clownish accidents. And the best treatment now while I work is putting extra pillows under my tusch. Taking a spill last Sunday night on the ice and landing on my tailbone would have made a great America’s Funniest Home Video, but it was just me and Lucy on her leash in the dark while everyone else sat inside watching the Superbowl. Nobody saw or heard me.

Except Sam. I felt him. And he was laughing. And I was crying. And in that moment I just wanted him to take me in his arms and give me a big hug and tell me it would be okay and then get me to laugh.  

I laid there for several minutes on the road flat on my back. Nobody was going to rescue me. Ever. I had to get up.

And now I’m trying to stay up. On my own feet. Too easy to get plowed over.

It happened this week in Ithaca. A guy got plowed over. I heard this today at the hair salon. An older man was trying to get across the street in the big snow storm yesterday and he stumbled at the curb and fell into the deep snow backwards. Suddenly the plow came by and buried him with snow. He spent almost two hours under the snowbank calling for help, and digging his way out with his bare hands. A neighbor watched the moving snowbank and finally called the Fire Department. They arrived just as he broke free. The neighbor thought maybe it was a dog under there. It was a man.

That guy had a much worse day than I did. But I feel his terror.

Breaking Trail

In Grief, Mourning, Pictures and memories, Signs from beyond, The Farm, Time and seasons on February 6, 2011 at 12:37 am

The dismal view of winter on Warren Pond

Trying to be a better pack leader means giving the dogs more exercise. They haven’t been able to get a good field run in now for over a month. Too much snow.

After plodding through the field and wood trails first thing his morning, I loaded the dogs up into the car and headed west toward Mecklenburg. The dogs now associate riding in the car with field trips.

Scooby still gets a little anxious when he sees people walking on the street or we pass a bicyclist in the city of Ithaca. They both relax as we head across the canal and up and out State Route 79 west.

It’s been hard on me and hard on the dogs not being able to get back down to the pond, and to Sam. It’s where my feet feel most planted on this earth. I know its secret. I belong to the pond and the farm. It never belonged to me really.

As I turn south on Buck Hill Road I see Scooby in the rear view mirror grinning ear to ear. His tail is quivering in anticipation of a run.

As I near the driveway, it’s clear the plow has built up quite a barrier to driving down into the lane. So I simply pull over to the side of the road and park.

The dogs jump over the snowbank but it’s just as deep all the way down the lane. We’re breaking trail. Lucy is ahead leaping. Her front feet break the crust and her back legs jump into those new holes. I follow and my feet are larger. Scooby daintily tries to step into only our prints behind me. Lucy struggles and grunts and pushes to make a trail for us. She stops and turns back. We are not far behind and it’s not much easier to follow than it is to lead when breaking trail.

Five hundred feet down the lane just as the field begins to open up, we stop and enjoy the view. I watch Lucy scan the fields and pond and Scooby’s nose is dancing on the breeze of scents.

So pristine. You can see for miles. Behind the cabin the hills roll up into the morning sunlight; a dark green grey. Snow everywhere. Silence of a deep sleep.

The dogs do their job, sniffing out where the deer have urinated and leaving their mark. They tentatively follow old deer prints off the side of the lane, but double back when the snow gets too deep.

I head down the lane toward the cabin. The snow gets deeper.

Lucy then is on top of the snow crust and it holds her weight. Then Scooby. He stands as though it’s sheer ice and all four legs will swoop out from under him at any time. I can tell he’s not real sure about walking on top of snow.

Just then his back leg pops through the crust and he’s got one leg in the snow up to his groin. Then both. Then all four. He’s not having as much fun as Lucy. Lucy is trying to punch through the crust of ice that covers the snow with both front feet. She’s jumping up and down trying to break through and when she does she takes a mouth full of snow and bites it.

We are not even half way down to the cabin and I realize we can’t get down there today. This is too hard. It’s more than aerobic! I’m exhausted and so are the dogs. And we still have to walk back up to the road.

Both dogs are incredibly obedient and stay close to my side as we trek back up the hill and back out following our first pass on breaking new trail.

It is not defeat. We all wanted to touch this place and we did; we just didn’t get all the way down to the pond. They’ve had an exhausting workout and it’s a reward for their improved behavior.

As we pull away, I can’t help feeling defeated. I wanted so much to be with Sam — at least his spirit — this morning. I tried. As I hit that zone of crying while driving on the highway, across my window flew a beautiful white snowy owl. I’ve known that owl for years.

He’s watching over me. He flew by. He knows how much I love him. He knows how hard I tried today to be there on the pond and remember all the good times.

Best times of my life. Cabin on the pond. And the “vacations” we took in cottage #1 at the other end of our pond! He put the f in fun.

Sweet Cottage #1 On Warren Pond Farm

Quality matters

In Mourning, Pictures and memories on February 1, 2011 at 11:46 pm

Quality is like fresh oats

Crispell Automotive, east of Ithaca, NY, on State Route 79 is closed and the real estate is for sale. The business is gone.

Dick Crispell ran this garage for many many years. Buses, trucks, heavy equipment, tractors and cars could find service like nowhere else in the Finger Lakes.

Sam worked for Dick Crispell when he was much younger; when Dick’s sons were boys. Sam liked to tell the story of how Dick Crispell extended him credit and garage space to rebuild his 18-wheeler after he had quit to be an independent truck driver. While his truck was out of commission Sam worked for Crispell Automotive as a top flight mechanic to repay Dick.

Sam always got his automotive parts there. During the past decade I had more than one occasion to visit Crispells. By then Dick Crispell had retired and one or the other of his sons ran the business.

On the wall hung an old handwritten saying in a frame that I took a picture of one day. It captured so much wisdom so simply.

“Quality…is like buying Oats. If you want nice clean fresh oats you must pay a fair price. However, if you can be satisfied with oats that have already been through the horse….that comes a little cheaper.”

Quality of life matters. There are lots of people who are not satisfied with the manure. The Tunisian revolution started when a young university educated man peddling fruits and vegetables lit himself on fire when the government confiscated his wares. No matter what he did his government would not permit him to have a quality of life that made his life worth living. The political is personal. And global.

If you want fresh clean oats you must pay a fair price. Fair.

So simple. So hard.

Near the light switch at Crispell’s hung another sign.

“Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is.”

Out on a llimb

I feel the need for a simple winter breakfast of fresh oatmeal fruit compote. Won’t come cheaply.