One of the dreams that’s kept me going is the Eleuthera, Bahamas house that my friend Lynn Larson and I are building as our winter retreat. We began the project a year and a half ago when we vacationed in the Bahamas and played a little game of “What if?” which turned into a game of “Why can’t we?”, and which soon became “Let’s!”.

While this was going to be a joint venture, my joint refused to cooperate, and so Lynn has spent the better part of the time since doing this alone–general contracting, designing, clearing brush, and painting. The latest photos show a pretty advanced stage of completion–at last! And I (at last) am in the final stages of getting down there to visit the project.

There have been earlier photos on this blog, but here are some from Lynn’s most recent trip–and a little more of the story.

The first photo is of the original house, in the little town of Tarpum Bay. Mr. Culmer was a fisherman, and his home was among the first in the town. The property was purchased by an artist/educator who lived in Tarpum Bay and whose descendants still own property there–MacMillan Hughes. He was a bit of an eccentric, and left his mark on the town–not only did he have a family compound on the beach, but he also built a castle for his mistress:

The ruins of the castle are still in the town, and the property is owned by the son. MacMillan Hughes next turned his attention to acquiring and renovating the Culmer House as an artist’s studio, and began the project by filling in the basement with cement and rocks, and beginning construction of the house and walled property.

This is what Lynn and I bought–the ultimate fixer-upper. But remember, this is the Bahamas,  and the walls are a foot thick, and we are in town, so there’s water and electricity. Plus, the view of the Caribbean is spectacular!

After a false start when our first choice contractor got distracted by his son’s arrest for murder, we found a wonderful builder who’s last name is–Culmer! and who is delighted to be working close to home and on his great grandfather’s cottage. Kervin has done wonderful work, and completed the cottage in record time. These are some of the latest photos and you can see how far he’s come.

This photo is taken from behind the house, looking out toward the ocean. You can imagine what the view is like from the second story….

This is the view from the inside of Lynn’s bedroom–my room is on the left and that’s my storm shutter you see through the window. You can see the church on the main street (Queen’s Highway) and the ocean just beyond. There’s a door from each bedroom out onto a second story deck, just for watching sunsets!

And here’s Lynn, after a hard day’s work paining the interior.

Now here’s the trick: this is a dream come true for both of us. It’s the result of a lot of hard work over our lifetimes, and a commitment to making a reality of a dream. For me it’s also a result of lot of support from my friends–the OC folks who decorated my room and kept my spirits up, my friends from the real estate world who gave me a rocking chair for my deck and a huge supply of love and encouragement, my former staff members (still my friends), and my coach Debby.

The only hurdle that remains for me is getting there, and every day brings me a little closer!


Last Night’s Fun

Last night felt like full circle..I went to my first Irish music session in nine months! Before the surgery, I was in such pain I couldn’t walk and sit very well….and then there was my ordeal for months and months It felt good to tuck my whistle in my pocketbook and head for the Loading Dock!

And the friendship and the music was wonderful. Lots of hugs and warm welcomes—including my buddy David the Bug Doctor (who also plays whistle)–he said he was glad to see me, and I said I was very glad for his success in making sure I was able to be there!

Of course, I am still a little gimpy, and climbing up on a stage isn’t my idea of fun. But it’s pub-dark in there and nobody could really see Gracie the Gimp climb up that big step….

So I have my music back. Life is very good.

Being Not So Green

Well, I couldn’t resist it.  As I am thinking about being green, I had to go out there and paint myself.  As you can see, I’m not too green–I’ve always got a paint brush and a hurdy gurdy.

My Pal Kal, the Progressive Torturist, has discoverend that I have a knotted-up muscle in my bad operated leg, just above the knee.  Kal brought a couple of ‘remedial’ (read ‘painful’) new exercises with him today and I will spend some time “working through the pain”, as I believe the masochists say.


Being Green

I had a friend, a good one, who became very, very ill. She was one of the first people I knew well who had cancer, and her battle was long and hard—and scary for those of us who loved her. And many of us DID love her—she was kind,and gentle,and good.

One of the people who loved her most was, of course, her husband. Throughout those long, gray months he was with her always—supporting her in every way possible. He cut back on his work hours so he could be there for her when she had to go to the treatment center for chemotherapy. He ran interference with well-meaning friends and relatives. He ran the household and cared for their two almost-adult children.

Gradually, she regained strength and became well again. We were pleased to see her smile and hear her welcoming voice and listen to her music. She went back to work, and visited with friends, and organized a wedding for her son—things were back to ‘normal’, the danger was passed.

Well, sort of. Remember the wonderful husband? It was he who became listless and lethargic, depressed and sad. He seemed unable to get back in the groove, to organize his days into productivity, to enjoy some of the pleasures he had once loved, like bass fishing and good cigars and puttering around the house. As his wife grew stronger, he seemed to diminish, to feel un-needed perhaps and without meaning.

He came out of it after a while, and again became the warm and loving person we all had known. But I’ve been thinking of those days a lot recently, because I think I know how he felt back then. An illness gives meaning to one’s life, it is the battle to be fought and the priority that claims focus and energy. Once the healing begins and the threat recedes, so too does the fight and the sense of purpose that characterized our waking hours.

It’s the same phenomena I have often watched in AA over the years. As the alcoholic begins her recovery, and becomes stronger and more at peace with herself, she finds those around her begin to disappear. They have defined their relationship with the alcoholic by the disease and once progress has been made toward health, friends and loved ones must redefine their roles.

I think that’s not far from what I am feeling right now: all these months I centered much of my energy on my health issues—on fighting pain, getting medical treatment, paying bills, trying to maintain a quality of life despite the onslaught of some frightening moments. And now, at last, I am on the downhill side of the mountain and the path is easier. But now, I am in charge. Every day I find the challenge comes in proactive living, not reactive living. And it’s not easy.

And so I make lists of what I want to do each day. And I construct some visions of myself as a well person, walking the beach in Tarpum Bay and easily climbing the stairs to my bedroom overlooking the sea. I realize that for the first time in many, many years I don’t have a job which carves out my time, and I don’t have medicines, doctors, aches, and wounds. I am regaining my health, my energy, and my time. It’s a new feeling, but—as Kermit would say—“it isn’t easy being green.”

Not the Same

“I dunno, it’s just not the same,” I said to Roseann on my most recent visit to Orchard Creek.

“There’s no sense of community, living at home by oneself.”

She nodded. “Well, we miss you here,” she said. “Nobody else puts art all over the walls in the hallway.”

Now calling my coloring attempts and my beginning water colors “art” is a kindness that endears Roseann to me, and I count her as my new BFF. She’s always optimistic and supportive, gracious and kind. And she’s a good teacher, too!

But yes, I am home—just me and Twister, my Portuguese Water Dog, and Punkin, my aggressively loving cat. We are visited three times a week by My Pal Kal, the TortureMeister, who is helping me strengthen my legs and learn more about mobility. Kal brings rubber balls, therabands and five and ten pound ankle weights and counts leg raises while rubbing Punkin’s belly, which she has shamelessly exposed as she lies beside him on the couch.

I keep trying to convince Kal to take a quick pass around my yard on my riding mower, but he says that there’s no such thing as a ‘quick pass’ around my yard, and he’s right. Dandelion stems wave idly in the breeze, and the fluff floats lazily by the front deck, which is about as far as I can go with my cane or walker. I feel good, which is probably why I am so impatient with the @#$%^& dandelion farm surrounding my house—but thanks to Craig’s List, I think I’ve found a young man with a car and riding mower experience.

I’ve been painting—just working on technique: there’s a blue elephant, a very fat nuthatch, and a purple and red rooster on my fridge, along with a still intimidating list of medications. As far as the latter, though, the content has changed from antibiotics and pain killers to iron and calcium supplements, vitamins, and maintenance medications. QD has cleared me for driving, which I do a little of: I have found that the issue is not with the driving but with what to do when I get to where I am going. Grocery stores are a hassle (boy, are they big!), and farmers’ markets are not wheelchair friendly, for sure. Each day is a challenge…

The biggest issue, though, is the one I voiced to Roseann—I knew I would miss the laughter and friendship of OC. My dining companion is a book, and the midnight sounds are the soft snore of the dog by my bed. It’s good being here at home, but it’s just not the same.