now time   18 comments

Stink bug nymph

These past few days, it feels like summer is racing past and will soon be gone. Seems like it wasn’t all that long ago that I arrived and spent the next two or three weeks tripping around buying ladders, a bar fridge, and a few other things to make it possible to live and work here at the old house. Now, I’m thinking in reverse. What needs to be done in order to close up the place and get back on the road for the autumn and winter?

Last week, I began working on what I regard as communication issues. The past couple of years, I’ve used a blackberry for email, and then relied mainly on wifi hotspots for using the laptop. I used modem sticks a little last year too – and have continued to use one here at the house this summer. However, my laptop suffered some damage last winter and only works when it is plugged in – it can’t run off battery power anymore. I was looking to replace it and decided to buy one of the new 3G + wifi enabled iPads, thinking that might work out to be a good solution and perhaps even replace the blackberry in time. I bought the iPad but have had quite a time trying to get the 3G enabled. Fortunately, I’m fairly patient or I would have thrown in the towel on the weekend. Anyhow, it’s still not set up, but I’ll just keep working away at that over the next few days during those times when I feel like I can handle a little frustration. However, today doesn’t happen to be one of those days.

I’m not much for keeping track of dates or even the time of day anymore. In most of my past lives, the time, dates, and deadlines were a big part of my world. Not now. With just the dogs and myself, structured time is almost meaningless. Instead, time has become an abstract thing considered only in terms of the weather and what can be done that day — morning walk, make breakfast, wash and hang up laundry on clothesline, repair and paint siding, afternoon walk, work on a trail in the woods, bring in dry laundry, make evening dinner, talk to my mom on the phone, answer email, do some mothing, and so on. All days are both the same but different. However, regardless of the sameness, I am very aware of the passage of time. I don’t need to look at the calendar buried under a stack of books in order to know that the angle of sunlight is changing, or that goldenrod and asters have replaced daisies and fireweed in the garden. Gone are the warblers, to be replaced by the coarse shrieks and screams of several families of Blue Jays and Crows hatched in the springtime in the woods surrounding my house.

Front and east side of house with final coat of paint applied – more work yet to be done above.

I may not know the date, but am acutely aware of where I was two years ago, and then last year, at this point in the summer. For the rest of you, early September may hold some significance as the time of year when your children return to school, or you to your teaching job, or when you begin to think about closing up the cottage, or freezing the last of the green beans in the garden. For me, this is the time of year when my thoughts turn to my last days caring for Don and saying goodbye as he departed from what had become, for both of us, a world of pain. It’s the time of year when I sold our farm and gave away or put our belongings into storage, then packed up the van and traveled north, then west, then south. To many of you, two years may seem like a long time. To me, it seems more like a long day, or perhaps a fleeting week, since I held Don in my arms as he departed on his own journey. The clock has ticked onwards, but my thoughts are frozen in a place that exists outside of any clock or calendar. For me, there is only before time, and after time, and now time. It is now time where you might find me on most days, standing upon a ladder as I re-nail and paint siding, or plaster walls here at the old house. And now time is that place where I stop the van by a lake, set up the camp stove to make our dinner and rest for a day or two. Although I may seem to be here with you now, I am in another place that you cannot see or know.

In any case, I continue to work away here at the house. Progress has been made over the summer. Below is a paired photo of the house as it looked on April 23rd, and another as it looked in mid-August (click on all images for larger views). Since the latest photos, most of the exterior has been given its final coat of white paint — yes, I decided to go with white after all! Being a modified Greek Revival, it is in the style that was usually painted white to give it the feel of a Greek temple. After working on the place for awhile – well, it seemed to be asking to be painted white. Over the next week or two, I’ll be shifting from finishing up the summer work, to closing up the house for winter. Already, I have begun to pack the gear and belongings that will be needed for many weeks of camping and travel, and for a winter spent in the south. For me, this is an odd time, filled with memories of past years – some good, some extremely sad – as before time and after time converge with now time — as we make ready to depart this place and travel wherever our road may lead.

Written by bev on August 26th, 2010

18 Responses to 'now time'

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  1. We’re delaying our arrival by reading your blog – but acutely feeling the importance of gettting everything carefully packed before setting off on an expedition, since our departure from home was so rushed.

    As you’ll have seen on facebook, Our plans for our visit to NS are constrained but unformed: we’ve planned to visit with you, and Daniel Pouliot wants us to come to Kedge, and there are the big black slugs seen in “a cellar in Wolfville” by Wayne Grimm in 1970 to look for, and we’ve got tentative dates for 11 September with the NSMNH, and Adam is to fly back to Ontario from Halifax on 3 September, and we want to map the distribution of native and invasive Phragmites in NS. Other than that, we’re free and unencumbered until the CARCNET meetings on 17 September – which we haven’t yet registered for, in case you might be thinking you were the only one we’ve been neglecting to tell of our plans.

    But as soon as I can geet the others unglued from their computers, we’ll be on our way.


    26 Aug 10 at 10:00 am

  2. fred – Remind me about the phragmites when you’re here. There’s a rather huge stand within the village of Annapolis Royal, behind a building across the the Saveway and EMR buildings. I haven’t looked at it closely, but it’s quite an imposing stand that has obviously been there for awhile. Given the location, I would not be at all surprised if there are other similar stands up along the trails in the Annapolis River marsh across the road. Also, no rush about visiting here. I am preoccupied with my own rushing around trying to finish things that I don’t mind if you just fly through on your way on up to Kedge. I fear I may not be the best host at this time.


    26 Aug 10 at 10:09 am

  3. The light is changing, and though the temperatures here are hotter than they’ve been all summer, that light declares that fall is on the way. I once wrote a poem about calendars, not the one hidden under piles of paper (here too!), but the one our hearts keep.

    I hope you figure out your new iPad. I know nothing about 3G and those kinds of networks and connections. Wish I could offer some advice, but I have none. My laptop has had power and battery issues too. I have to fiddle around with the little magnetic end on the power cord to make it actually supply power to the battery. Often it is plugged in, but is not lit because it hasn’t made the connection. This is the second power cord for this laptop because the first one did the same thing. It must have something to do with the battery, but I’m just not interested enough in the problem to actually try to solve it.

    robin andrea

    26 Aug 10 at 10:42 am

  4. Good luck with getting your internet connection working for your trip. I know how much I miss that when I go without it for long. It sounds great to be traveling as you do with total freedom to go where you want. I look forward to hearing of your adventures– assuming you do get that internet 😉


    26 Aug 10 at 11:02 am

  5. You write beautifully and achingly. Hope your sense of loss gets easier to bear with each passing year.


    26 Aug 10 at 11:40 am

  6. Bev, I wish I could come help with your house and assist in preparing for your travels. On one hand, I think you could use a hand so as not to wear yourself out. On the other, I think a respite away from the anchor of a desk and telephone and demanding clients could perhaps save me from madness! I love reading what you write. Though I don’t have your experiences, I feel very much like I relate to them as if they were my own. Good luck on your next journey…and I do hope your iPad cooperates.


    26 Aug 10 at 2:51 pm

  7. “it seems like a long day.” Exact-o. A really, really long day.


    26 Aug 10 at 3:03 pm

  8. robin – Have you posted that poem? I’d like to read it sometime. Interesting about your Mac laptop. I don’t think this one is due to the cord, but seems to be an “after effect” of the glass of water that fell into the keyboard last winter when I was sick. Oh well! I think the iPad will eventually get set up, but I’m leaving it for awhile. I can only withstand so much brain damage each week. (-:

    Rain – Having email and occasionally an actual net connection help me to remain sort of grounded when I’m traveling. I’ve done a lot of wandering alone over the past decade and, if I have the ability to send and receive email, I never truly feel alone, even if I’m far from the nearest person. I know it’s kind of an artificial thing, but it seems to be one luxury that helps me through the day.

    arvind – Thank you. It’s said that we do gradually learn to live with loss over time. I realize that these feelings will always exist, but they will change over time as I learn how to let them exist while I carry on.

    John – Well, maybe next summer you can arrange to sneak away to the north during the hottest part of your season. You’d probably find it quite comfortable here. By next summer, I hope to have things a little nicer around the place. Not quite so spartan! Then I’ll be ready for visitors, especially the kind that are willing to pitch in and give me a hand for a few days!

    megan – Yes, a really, really long day.


    26 Aug 10 at 6:06 pm

  9. I rather miss those days when time didn’t matter at all – even though those were the days when the pain was most acute. I miss being able to give myself up totally to that exquisite rawness of the feeling. Now that life has settled into some semblance of normality and I need to know what day it is again, I sometimes wish that I could return to that timeless state. It was all so much less complicated.
    PS The house is looking great. Will you get to the top with your painting before you leave?


    26 Aug 10 at 6:19 pm

  10. J – I know what you mean about the timeless state being “less complicated”. That’s how it feels when I’m traveling. We rise with the sun and, most nights, go to bed just after sunset. I try not to give my thought to what is happening outside the circle of our lives as I don’t have much control over anything anyhow.
    Thanks about the house. I am definitely aiming to be to the top by the end of the season, but it’s going to depend a bit on the weather. I’m crossing my fingers that this next week will give me the time I need to get finished. I’ll be adding the extension to the tall ladder tomorrow! (-:


    26 Aug 10 at 6:47 pm

  11. Hi bev.

    The house looks great. Such a beautiful change from one picture to the next. You really brought it back to life. The whole surrounding area look alive, and lived in. It’s another sign that even though you may feel like time doesn’t move, it certainly does. I think it is also good to reflect on those things that are life giving, when we spent so much time with a life being taken.

    I’m coming up on 12 months, yet it doesn’t seem like it has been that long. I look around me, and also see how much thing have changed in my environment, but when I look within, I don’t always see a lot of change. I like how your life moves with the seasons. It’s like a reminder to shift, grow, and shift again. Even if we don’t feel much like growing, life’s forces move us along anyway.

    Glad to see you post again, and will send cosmic energy your way to get that damned iPad working.


    27 Aug 10 at 1:32 am

  12. Hi Dan – Thanks! It’s been quite fascinating to see the house transformed. The “feel” of being in the garden is quite different now. Before, there was a sadness, and now it is becoming almost cheerful. You’re right – it seems to have been good for me work on a project that has brought something back to life after dealing with so much of the reverse. I found that the first winter I was in Arizona too – working in the garden there, surrounded by birds and butterflies. It was so needed during that time.

    Looking back on the past two years, 12 months definitely did not seem very long. But, much as you have described, it seemed like everything around me had changed — it felt to me as though life had marched on, leaving me struggling along somewhere behind. I must say that I still feel some of that, but it seems centered on this particular time of the year rather than throughout. Also, by making the changes that I have made in my life – selling the farm, buying this place, traveling, and so on, it has helped me to realize that I’m not frozen in time – in spite of how I may feel inside, I continue to live and grow.

    Thanks for any cosmic energy you can send this way to get the iPad working! When I finally do manage to get it working right on a 3G network, I intend to write a post about how that was finally accomplished! Also, I think that, once I’m on the road again this autumn, writing and posting photos should come more easily to me. This summer, the working on the house has consumed a huge amount of my energy, leaving little for anything else. I actually look forward to this season’s travels as a time to do a bit more thinking and perhaps drawing, painting and writing along the way. We’ll see!


    27 Aug 10 at 6:31 am

  13. I have been following your journey for some time now, and am filled with admiration for all you have achieved and are achieving.
    I am also working my way through the strange territory of widowhood.
    I wish you and The Girls a peaceful and happy journey through winter, and a safe return to your wonderful house when the time is right.

  14. I’ve not read the above comments because I know that anything I attempt to say here will pale in comparison to the responses your post had to elicit.

    You’r ability to express and define what becomes of the world after profound grief – takes me backward and reluctantly forward into that place that we all fear.

    My father died in September. When the asters bloom and brambles turn red – my heart breaks again – every year since 1991. Yes. It’s less acute. I don’t remain there as long, though a part of me wants to remain in order to be with Dad. But I move forward.

    After I post this comment I will call me mother as I do daily. She is 88 and failing and soon there will be another season, another slant of light that will evoke the painful memories like those that you wrestle with.

    Bev, you are wonderful. The house is smiling on its hill, the dogs smile into the camera for you. Antoine – lucky fellow – smiles, too.

    I know that you carry Don’s smile with you everywhere. And always will.

    Be well.

    Cathy Wilson

    28 Aug 10 at 1:39 pm

  15. R.Retiring – Thank you for leaving a note. Yes, the way through the “strange territory of widowhood” is not easy, even at the best of times. Each person must find their own way. What works for one, does not work for another. However, I think we all find some inspiration in each others’ journeys.

    Cathy – Yes, those asters and brambles do take us to a place that breaks our hearts all over again – year after year. But you’re also right that we would not really want it any other way as I think we do have the need to revisit those times and remember for awhile. I also think you are so right about how, as the years pass, more seasons acquire more memories. That seems inevitable. I sometimes wonder what happens when the whole year is charged with such power and meaning? Take care.


    29 Aug 10 at 8:46 am

  16. I love that stinkbug. A *stinkbug* of all things, but aren’t they merry things?

    Bev with a blackberry – I have no idea how these things work. Internet connection problems are so local, and yet I always find myself fascinated by the problems people have with connections. I pay attention, for connection is a pretty major thing for me, and others’ problems are a learning experience. That isn’t sad at all. Otherwise I’d be confined to TV and newspaper and who wants to be limited to that? Neither of those things can let me talk to the people I enjoy hearing from.

    I love that house, and everytime you post a photo, Bev, and the paint and reparations keep climbing higher and higher it looks better and better. It’s an awesome piece of work, and I don’t just mean that like “awesome!” in the stupid sense. Your neighbors, I suspect, must regard you like a kind of a goddess.

    I see that Hurricane Earl is sweeping its way on a great curve in your direction. I even saw that Newfoundland and NOVA SCOTIA were possible targets!!! What do you think of that? You aren’t going to leave for Arizona before you enjoy this particular bit of meteorogical attention, are you? Gif, gif! Or jpg, jpg, whatever you want!

    Perceptions of time. Just by my age, I know a little bit of what you mean – time doesn’t just accelerate, although it does as you get older. It also ceases to become the all-consuming thing, or it does for me. I haven’t yet had someone dear ripped away from me, Bev, but it could happen – I think about that a lot.


    31 Aug 10 at 10:06 am

  17. Wayne – I love stinkbug younguns! I particularly like those strange “i Ching” type markings on their backs.

    Regarding the Blackberry, it’s been excellent as far as connectivity is concerned, but when I’m traveling in the U.S., it has been incredibly expensive. I’m just experimenting with a new data package that offers special “World Phone” rates. Maybe that will be the answer. However, I’m actually hoping that the iPad will be able to replace most, if not all, of the Blackberry’s most important functions (email, etc..). If so, I’ll probably just buy a cheap cell phone for the time when I’m in the U.S. You can read more about all of this stuff on my latest blog post if you’re interested.

    The house is definitely looking better as time goes on, and I have gotten a bit of feedback from a couple of my neighbours, so I know that they’re happy to see the changes.

    I’ve been watching the Hurricane Earl updates and am hoping that we don’t get too much of a piece of that as Hurricane Juan did quite a bit of damage up here a few years ago. I doubt it would have much of an impact on my place as I’m in a fairly sheltered area, but I’d definitely have some concerns if I had a house close to the ocean. I’ll definitely be around here for another week or two, so if anything comes ashore, I’ll be here!

    Yes, I know what you mean about time and how it feels as we get older. Many things change in importance, especially after the people in your life gradually depart. I’ve had a lot of losses, so my perspective probably differs greatly compared to most, especially for someone my age. I used to feel young for my years, but now it’s different – I wouldn’t exactly describe it as feeling “old” but more like “worn” like an old rock formation.


    1 Sep 10 at 12:39 pm

  18. I like the before-and-after views of your house, at the bottom of this post. The “before” shot looks a little anxious and lonely (especially since the trees are not yet in leaf) and the “after” house looks rather like it’s smiling.

    Aleta Karstad

    16 Sep 10 at 11:02 am

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