Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Giving Thanks for Burnt Toast

(reprinted from my blog: Slices of My Life, located at

Most of the time my life is really good and fairly peaceful. During the years I spent living on the Kitsap Peninsula in Western Washington, I'd described it as "idyllic" for at least three quarters of the time. I lived for about five years either on the banks of Hood Canal or Puget Sound. The cabin where I lived overlooking Hood Canal accorded me jaw-dropping sunsets, while the house on Puget Sound yielded stunning sunrises, both of which I spent countless hours admiring, photographing, and capturing in prose and poetic writings. While I haven't been living at that level of serenity a lot of the time since I relocated to Florida, I still have a fairly peaceful and pleasant life, that is, until recently. Some time in the fall, the wheel of fortune began slowly turning me upside down. It finally ended in a dramatic turn that landed me suspended in air hanging from my toes. I'm glad to say that is starting to change. Things have shifted enough that I know that the wheel of fortune is moving up and about to smile on me again.

Since this blog is called, Slices of My Life, I'm entitling this entry, "Giving Thanks for Burnt Toast," because it is about finding the silver lining in one of the worst slices of this life oft examined. Seldom is my life aptly described such, but recent days and weeks it has made me wish I could chuck it in the trash, since no amount of scraping with a butter knife seemed to do anything towards making this slice any more palatable. While it hasn't been terrifying it has been, in so many ways, quite odious. I'm way past ready to cut my losses and move on now. While nothing that has occurred has been horrific by itself, it has been the combination of so many little things, with a few big things added to the mix, that has made life barely tolerable.

I'm disinclined to list all the things that have gone wrong in the past few months, because I prefer to focus on the positive aspects of my life. Bearing in mind the adage: "What you focus on expands," I am finished dwelling on all the stuff that went awry and looking instead at those things that remained steadfast. First of all, while I have been working to help all of my cats and my housemate's cats recover from a recent fungal infection that impacted each of them to a varying degree, I am grateful that they are all young enough to weather this and arrive on the other side in tact. I wondered for a while about one of them in particular, but he is now doing so much better that I know that he is very close to being back to his perky and lovable self. Despite it all, I am happy that they are alive and that our love for one another remains. They'll forget (eventually) all the times I had to capture and corner them for the application of medicine. They'll remember the love that drove me to do it (hopefully). Even though they have eluded me dozens of times during these medicinal moments, I will remember the times they allowed me to catch them so they could be treated. I know they allowed me because I know firsthand what Houdini cats they can be.  Bear in mind that these four cats and I drove from Orlando to Seattle, from Seattle to Minneapolis and back, and finally from Seattle to Cape Cod, and then back down to Orlando again. We have been through a lot together and know each other well. There is a lot of love and trust amongst us. For that I am very grateful. I am also grateful for the help my sister and her nephew gave me in getting the house sanitized to help with the recovery process. Sanitizing our living space was important to keep them well once we got them there.

Another thing I'm thankful for is having a roof over my head and a place to live where I can stay mostly warm and dry. One room in the house has sprung a leak recently, and getting someone out here to fix it has been not only a challenge but an act of futility. Technically we started calling roofers to repair it back in the summer, but no one ever came out. During the rainy season, this is not too surprising, but in the fall and winter, there's no reason not to be able to find someone to do the job. This should be their slow season. However instead of dwelling on the one room in the house that needs repair, I celebrate the other 90% of the house that is dry and cozy. Someone will show up eventually, and in the meantime, I'm grateful that this is the dry season. I also feel that we are fortunate for discovering the leak during the dry season so we could have it repaired. We had been warned that it was likely to leak, given the way the original job had been botched, but we didn't actually spring a leak until a couple weeks ago. So I'm thankful for the timing of the discovery of the leak so we can get it taken care of long before the next rainy season returns again.

I'm also grateful for the progress I have been making towards better health and mobility. I have made great strides towards reclaiming my strength and health. While I've had to start using a walker to get around, I've graduated to one with four wheels and a seat, so I can do more. Not only can I stack things I need to move from one part of the house to the other on that seat, but I can also start a task and know that if I get tired, I can always sit and rest before finishing it. That empowers me to attempt to do more, which keeps me active. That is really good for keeping up my strength and muscle tone, but it also encourages me by making me feel that I can still contribute to the upkeep of the household. The kitten and kitty rides have been worth the price of the chariot alone. Six of the nine cats in this combined household have allowed me to give them a ride at one time or another. So I'm thankful that I'm getting stronger and that I'm able to use this helpful aid to get things done and entertain kitties all at once.

While there have been lots and lots of small and large annoyances of late, I know that "this too shall pass." I have finally been able to stop struggling against the current and instead go with the flow, knowing that there may be moments when I need to be mindful of the rapids and hold my breath when I feel myself going under. During less stressful moments, I've been able to lift my head and look around, momentarily enjoying the scenery as it passes by rapidly. There have been a few moments of grace and laughter, as well as an awareness that this kind of testing is rare and that some good will come from the difficulties themselves. Even in the case of burnt toast, the charcoal from the burnt bits is purifying to the system. Why do you think they use charcoal in water filtration systems? It captures and draws out the impurities, so even the trials themselves work towards our growth and benefit. I may not be able to discern those benefits right now, but in time I will. I usually do, although sometimes it requires a lot of time. While I'm waiting for those revelations, I will give thanks in faith that somewhere some time, I'll understand the whys for the circumstances. I'm already figuring some of them out now. While I'm not likely to say, "Pass me some more burnt toast," I have at least swallowed the serving I already had and have lived to talk and even smile about it.