Monday, September 19, 2011

Sept 19/11

 For the first time since I bought the property, I have managed to get out to my country property to actually see most of the apples on the trees. I even managed to pick a small bagful of them to bring home with the intention of making an apple crisp. The trees have not been tended to for many (30? 40?) years so most of the apples are up too high for me to safely pick and many apples are scabby and/or wormy. The deer do not seem as fussy as this human because there is much evidence on the ground of their gnawing at the apples.

So, this colander of apples has been partially turned into
 this apple crisp whose recipe can be found here at Betty Crocker.
I took this pan to my mom's house for Sunday Dinner and it was pretty much licked clean when I left. I was a little worried about how the apples would turn out because I have never eaten or cooked with them before, but my family assured me as they wolfed down their share that it was delicious.

My stitching has been slowed a bit because I have strained part of my hand at the base of my middle finger on my right hand. To help with the discomfort, I tape my two middle fingers together if I am going to stitch for a few hours or if I have been at work for a few days (opening vials aggravates the hand as well).

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

The 10th anniversary of Sept 11

With the upcoming tenth anniversary of the Sept 11 attacks, I find myself thinking back to that time. I was in Sweden visiting with friends while on a 2 week vacation. I had arrived on Sept 7th, a Friday, and was a little jetlagged as well as having some side effects from a recent yellow fever vaccine. Nevertheless, I set out for the pub with my friend Therese's cousin (I was staying with T. but she had a work function so poor Hakan was asked to take me out) and got a little drunk. Well, alot maybe because I forgot how to speak English, but that is not the point of this little story.

During the course of the evening, I was introduced to several of Hakan's friends at the pub. He is in the Swedish navy so I met several guys from both the military navy and the merchant navy who were based in Karlskrona. One guy in particular was not so intimidated by having to speak English with me so we ended up hanging out together. At one point, Jana looked at me and said, "You are so beautiful". That brought me up short. I did not know how to respond beyond a stunned, "Um, thank you?".

At that time in my life, I was in the grips of a depressive episode that had been finally recognized and diagnosed five years before but had been going on for years before that. Looking back now, there is no doubt in my mind that it had been going on for at least 15 years at that point. I spent many years just taking one day at a time because there were so many things going on around me that I had no control over and I was so overwhelmed that it was all I could do to see life through to the next midterm, the next class, the next court date of my parents' divorce. To compensate, I wore a brave face and carried an armour of bravado that hid (or at least I thought it did) alot of stuff. My cousin once told me that she was amazed at my ability to just ignore an issue if there was nothing I could do about it. In university, I was one of those girls who could walk through a bar and take it for granted that several heads would turn, that drinks would be bought for me and that I was not sitting to one side hoping that a guy would ask me to dance.

After university, I dove into my career as a pharmacist and volunteer activities. I was busy, busy, busy. What people did not know was that if I was not at work or wherever, I was curled up in bed with the blankets over my head. It was not until I happened to be reading a professional development article on depression and I checked "yes" on every line of a screening tool that I realized something was REALLY wrong. I was numb to feeling, I was numb to life and everything was grey to me.

So, there I was in Sweden, unsure how to react when a guy said to me that I was beautiful. I was sad that I was so numb and sad that I had lost my joie de vivre/bravado. A few days later, I sat in stunned silence like the rest of the world as the images of planes crashing into the World Trade Centre looped constantly on CNN. I participated in moments of silence in Sweden in between spending hours watching the coverage while Therese was at work. Flights to North America were not flying so my return home on Sept 21th was up in the air. Therese's family made it clear that I was welcome to stay with them as long as necessary. I loved them for their generousity but I really wanted to get home as soon as possible. Yes, I am sure that I could have found work there as a pharmacist, learned the language and settled in quite nicely as I love Sweden, but I wanted to be home with my family.

In the meantime, Jana and I hung out a few more times, including my last night in Sweden. He asked me to stay and/or return to Sweden because he had never met another woman like me and wanted to marry me. By then I had realized that I still had a lot of healing to do and told him that he needed to forget about me because I was so miserable with myself that I would make him miserable. In retrospect, I still believe that, but I am thankful to him for that emotional kick in the pants. It still took several years to fully free myself from that depressive cycle, but he made me see how numb I had become.

Sept 11 was a wake up call that no country is immune to terrorism and violence and is the "Where were you when?" of this era as well as my own personal wake up call. There have been a couple of other depressive episodes in between and I am just coming out of another one now. So many of you have very kindly complimented me on my new thumbnail. That photo is a true reflection of how I feel these days. I am standing strong, face to the sun, hopeful and full of life. The loss and violence of the events that day are not far from my mind as we near that anniversary and so are the thoughts of a Swedish man who unknowingly changed my life in a moment.

This entry was originally posted in a social networking blog that I also belong to. Here is the photo I am referring to as my thumbnail: