You asked me for a blog, since I haven’t written one in a long time. The truth is, I haven’t found a suitable subject. I wanted to write about the things I’ve been doing this year in the pandemic, how I’m grateful to be working, grateful to have my husband working from home, grateful for a mild winter, and happy to have Grendel in my life.
But 2020 has been a shitty year for so many worldwide, I don’t want to sound glib or insensitive, especially since death has touched everyone, including me. I thought maybe, if I write it as a letter to a good friend, it won’t sound that way, and you are often a favorite muse for ‘Earth to Thoeba.’
Being isolated didn’t affect our lives as badly. Dan adjusted to working at home, and I’m sure he prefers it. He makes jokes about ‘the commute’, which means shutting his computer off, walking across the living room, and pouring himself another coffee. For him, this is a kind of relief. He prefers not to leave the house if he doesn't have to.
I continued to work, but the hours weren’t crazy. I looked forward to more writing time. That didn’t happen as well as I hoped. I found myself engaging in non-writing projects. I did my usual spring cleaning, yard work and gardening, and later fall-cleaning. In between, I painted a few kitchen areas in a beautiful color named ‘Enchanted Flute.’ It’s a muted blue-grey that magically works with everything around it. It took longer than anticipated. First I had to remove the wallpaper. (You were right. Fabric softener helped) That is when I learned that the previous owners of this house used wallpaper to cover about a thousand holes and badly placed nails and screws. We decided that they did what they could—Google wasn’t around back then to look up How-To home repairs. That’s how I learned how to re-caulk the tub this year too, as well as patching way too many holes.
Oh! And I made both Dandelion and Pear Wine from scratch. Can’t taste any of it until March.
Grendel was an unexpected and delightful bonus, especially after losing Spartacus Jones. (After ten months, I still ache for him, and I’m crying as I write. I loved that boy more than anyone or anything.) It began with Dan leaving wet cat food leftovers outside for birds, stray cats...anything that needed the food. If Freya wouldn’t eat it, why waste it? (By the way, Freya is as perfect as ever. Even my Mom adores her. She’s ten years old now, and still a sweetie.) We noticed it was always a black cat that came after dusk for it. He began to come earlier and earlier until one day he showed up at the door to ask for it. We let him inside, and he’s been coming in ever since.
He hasn’t chosen us—not really. As I type this, he’s been sleeping in the basement for six hours. Sooner or later, he’ll come upstairs and howl to be let out. Dan reminds me that he’s feral and he’s not our prisoner, so we let him out. We want to get him fixed, but he stresses out when we try to keep him in, and he’s always so hungry, we don’t dare starve him for 12 hours to get it done, not right now. We’ve brought him to the vet. Vet says he’s ‘fighting fit’., and she’s right. He’s a muscular, scabby little guy, and he’s finally gaining some weight on his skinny butt. He’s about two years old, and I want to get his hearing checked. Maybe he’s just fearless, and doesn’t respond to loud sounds. Hmm.
This is another reason why I’m grateful for such a mild winter. Not just because I hate being cold. I can’t bear the thought of him being out there and not being able to find shelter. I find it funny how I can sleep like the dead, but still hear him meow at the door and wake to let him in. But what if he comes when I’m at work on graveyards? Dan doesn’t hear him as well as I do. We’ve been so lucky this winter. The temperature hasn’t gone below -10 Celsius. (14 Fahrenheit)
In October we lost my
friend T, who is our friend A’s mother, to a heart attack. I was sitting
here at my desk when 911 came. She lived across the street from me, and I
stared out the window and counted family members, sent A a text...You know
it’s bad when the ambulance arrives and the paramedics aren’t in any hurry.
I miss her voice and her boisterous cackle. I miss the way she called me ‘Doh-nah’. I’m really going to miss her rice pudding and her curried chicken livers that she made just for me because those were the bomb! I never did get the recipe, and mine just aren’t as good. T was a social animal and a giver. I made more friends through her.
On the day of T’s funeral—Halloween-- an ambulance arrived next door. Everyone watched as they took J away, and days later, we learned that she’d lost her long battle with cancer. J was just such a lovely person, and she fought hard against cancer, for over a decade. The last time I spoke to her and her husband it was in March, and we raised our voices from way across the sidewalk as to not get too close. She had given up on chemo, didn’t have the strength for it anymore, and was trying something else I can’t remember now. I can’t pretend that I knew her well, but I genuinely liked her. Such a good person with such strength and character, and I’d been hoping to see her more often after the pandemic was over.
Days ago, we lost TC. I
met him through friends and he was awesome. He was a member of Mensa Canada,
but so down to earth. He had a horrific car accident eight years ago that left
him with a brain injury that confined him to hospital. I should have visited
more, but I was afraid he wouldn’t remember me. He did, but I still didn’t
visit more. No time, no energy, excuses. I should have, but I didn’t expect him
to leave. His system gave out, and I should have expected that would happen
eventually. That feels pretty shitty. Everyone feels that death. I wish I had better words.
I’m still writing and editing. ‘Elaina’s Fate’ is actually in the second edit, but it requires so much work. There were so many missing details and wonky ones. I had to re-write several passages and erase and re-vamp entire pages. It’s okay. It’s going to be a much better book. I’m still writing ‘Her True Name: Volume Three', but I need to do a bit more research. T was going to help with that, but she’s gone. I will research the Hindi gods I need on my own. I’m going to dedicate it to her when I’m finished. I just wish she’d be here to read it.
It’s been a strange year. I wasn’t sure what to write, what to blog. I'm crying for all the loss. Sometimes I can't keep track of all the battles. There's no many reasons to be angry and so many causes to fight for. I'm hoping that when Trump is FINALLY out of office, things will work better. It was never just feminism, I know, I've always known--but I've had to check my privilege. It was hard, and it has to continue being hard. Otherwise, how else am I going to learn? This year has been so enlightening in scary ways.
I think of you too, more than you know. We may have met on Farmville, but I consider you a close friend. Haven’t we shared so much? And not just recipes for Beef Stroganoff.
I may have had a better 2020 than most, but it doesn’t mean I don’t think of you, and of the people I lost. I know so many people out there are having the worst year of their lives, and I feel somewhat guilty for my good fortune. So this is my new blog post, written for you my cherished friend. Drop me a note soon, and let me know how you’re doing <3. I love you. Please take care of yourself.