Peggy has been away for a week and, my pain level having dropped precipitously over the past several months, I’ve been working almost every waking hour at jobs that I couldn’t have imagined doing six months ago. Replacing soffits for example. Try that with bad shoulders. Unfortunately, I still have bad shoulders, and the pain still wakes me during the night, but it’s not so severe that I can’t work. Here are some of the items I’ve checked off my list so far this summer.
Install sidelight by front door.

Install security lights at front and back corners of house.

Replace drain from kitchen and laundry room to where it enters the house drain.

Replace drain from bathtub to house drain.

Replace drain from lavatory to house drain.

Cut old galvanized pipes into lengths suitable for use as levers and rollers.

Disassemble garden box and put the dirt in compost bins.

Cut Ponderosa stump to grade.

Power-wash house, front fence, and patio.

Paint front fence.

Replace soffit on west side of house.

Plant shrubbery in back yard (My “shrubbery” includes five giant grasses, two clumps of bamboo, a Gulf Stream Nandina, a Japanese Fatsia, and the Silver Queen Euonymous in the photo).

It’s been years since I could really work, and I can’t get it out of my head that I need to catch up with everything today because I sure the hell don’t know what kind of shape I’ll be in tomorrow. None of us do, but it’s easy to get into the habit of imagining that we’ll wake up to the same world we went to bed in. When you’re forced to face your vulnerability, it tends to make you sadder and more fearful. At least, it did me, and living with these feelings has been the hardest adjustment I’ve ever had to make. For one thing, it has turned me into a loner. Pain has put such a gulf between me and everyone else that I see them all as inhabiting their own little planets, and I have no idea how to reach them. I think they imagine that they can reach one another, but I picture them as already being in their graves without even knowing it. All the years of our species is but the impossibly short flicker of a meaningless dream. It is only the possibility of kindness that makes life worthwhile, yet I must confess that the more I recede into myself, the less even that seems to matter, although I still practice it.

About halfway through the week, I realized that I was working too hard, and this made me feel old, hopeless, and thoroughly depressed, although not enough to slow down. I decided to get wasted. "I deserve this," I told myself. "I'm in pain and I've been working really hard, and I have earned the right to chill out." I took 40 mgs of oxycodone (4-8 regular doses), a big chunk of a marijuana cookie, and a slug of 190 proof. Even then, I couldn’t stop working, although I was rather proud of the fact that I even could work. If it hadn’t been nearly midnight, I would have been outside running power saws, but as it was, I went to bed at 1:00 and slept ten hours.

Now, Peggy is home, and I will allow myself to rest. This is resting.