Impatiently in limbo, so many things, so much time—and the ballad of Mr. Mittens

Beech Hill Pond, Otis, Maine, one week since my hospital stay. The bruises from blood draws and IV lines are still there to remind me of how sick I was, and still am. I spent some down time at Mr. Mitten’s in Winterport, Maine. Our boat is under contract, and a investment house I got strangely attached to fizzled out.

I have to warn you, this is a meandering post that’s all over the place. It makes sense given the way I feel, both physically and mentally. I started to organize it, to make sense of it. After going over it a few times, I think it’s better this way. My thoughts are open and raw, and rambling. There’s a little bitching too. A lot of times when I edit, I end up erasing half of it, and rewriting it. Not today.

Recovery from double lobed pneumonia has been slow. The constant fatigue, coughing, bellyaches, and the need to sleep as much as a cat lead me at my parents’ very quiet vacant house in Winterport—well, Mr. Mittens lives there.

I’m doing my best not to be ungrateful or come of as rude. I am homeless after all. And the lake is a beautiful place to spend winter on the surface—but now that we are here I find it chaotic, and struggling with so much that is out of my control.

The lake is a buzz with low-flying float planes, jet-skis, loud conversations on the tightly packed camp lots, company popping in, land-line phone calls, and endless traffic on the gravel road. And what gets me most of all are the dogs barking at everything all day. There is no napping. I don’t bother trying anymore. Today there is loud machinery on the lot next door, on a Saturday morning.

A family of three was also staying here at the time of my release from the hospital. I had to abruptly kick them out of the bathroom on my first morning back—the three antibiotics I’m on aren’t agreeing with me. They stood just outside the door while I died in there. How awkward. I was embarrassed and angry.

Anyhow, all bitching aside, that was my breaking point. I texted my mom to come get me. I stayed there three nights and two days and took my cues from the cat in the naps department. My parents bought me food to fatten me up and waited for me to check in about morning coffee before picking me up to bring me the short distance to their new home up the road. I hadn’t spent much time with them before or since the crazy turn of events this summer. It had been a couple months since I’d seen them.

My mother, who is somehow alive after losing a chunk of her brain in a terrible accident, was happy to spoil me—like when I was an only child when they first married. I’d become close with my younger sister Courtney during their initial recovery, when we weren’t sure mom would make it. I’m looking forward to their next visit so I can play with my nephew. He is the cutest little blue-eyed-blonde and is so full of it.

My parents went shopping and brought me food to bring my weight back up, picked up a mushroom book at the library for me, and a little journal to write in. My mom has had a personality change since the accident, she is upbeat, outgoing, loud, and funny. She laughs and smiles more than ever. We still share our taste in music and nature.

When my mom first came home from the hospital she swore like a sailor—now she uses seasonally-themed swears, the current cuss is foliage. My dad, who was also in the accident, lost half a foot but doesn’t let it slow him down much. He can walk longer distances all the time. He mowed an acre of overgrown field a few days ago on a muggy, hot summer day.

Mr. Mittens had lived with us on the farm until this boat fiasco—and hell, all over the state in the past 13-years. I wandered into a cornfield during a field trip at a dairy farm back in college. A teeny kitten followed me out. It meowed so loud for it’s tiny size it was hard to ignore. I picked him up, and finished the tour. Little did I know I’d have a vet telling me he was a seven on the 1-10 cat chonk scale over a decade later, and to put him on a diet.

When we got ready to board the bus, I handed the kitten to the farmer, who said the pitiful thing wouldn’t made it long. It’s mother had been dragged off by a coyote. He said all the kitten was good for was coyote bait. He went on to explain they picked off coyote because of concerns over spring calfs.

I jammed the tiny kitten into my shirt and took him back to our apartment—that I rented from my future-husband. There was a no cats policy, but he looked past it as we slipped into infatuation. That had been my third year in college. The kids and I enjoyed kitty antics in the apartment, just us having fun.

It’s hard to believe that was so long ago. Kevin and I have had our ups and downs, breakups and makeups, and years apart in the middle—but here we are, doing absurd things. There’s no one else I’d rather be unordinary with. I mean, who else would let me cut their hair while bobbing out on the open ocean and dress up as a pirate in public? He even takes Mandy-behaving-badly photos, wears Pokemon party hats into gas stations, and snowshoes miles on frozen lakes with me to relax. He’s a brave man.

There’s been some serious ups and downs in the home department. We sold our farm, bought a catamaran to live on, and now it’s under contract down at a marina in Charleston. We have plans to build a home that are on hold for months. I’m currently too sick to live anywhere off-grid and dusty, and would sorely miss the indoor plumbing.

I have been looking at Zillow for investment opportunities we could live in, fix up, then build in Bradford as planned when spring comes. I found a foreclosed house that was in need of love—plumbing, cosmetics, cleaning, and two new decks—relatively close to Bradford for easy commuting to build our house, and to Bangor making it a good future rental property.

It was a good sized single-level house with an in-law suite, a spacious three-car garage, with a lot just under 30-acres. It checked off all the boxes. We might even decide to stay in it as our forever home. Who knows? We left messages, with no reply for a couple days—then when we finally got through, the broker said the house was already under contract.

I had spent just enough time romanticizing over it that the news crushed me. I spent that day, and much of the next day in bed, crying over everything and nothing—well, more like forcing myself not to. The veil of depression, impatience of everything seeming so far away, and the off-the-rails uncertainty has a tight hold on me. I’m good at scheming, and bad at waiting. Big unknowns looming over me don’t help the matter.

It seems like the last several months have been a hurry-up-and-wait whirlwind ending up in a strange in-limbo waiting game. Like our rush to close on the boat, followed by an excruciatingly long wait in a hotel with a duck. Then the weeks-long wait to have the boat picked up by a crew to sail it back to Charleston, NC to be put up for sale.

We have no idea what the Bradford camp will evaluate for. Will the two swampy areas be taken into consideration? Will it be based on the town’s tax assessment? Will the lack of a road be figured in? Will they simply draw up a flat per-acreage number? Will the little off-grid hunting camp be treated like a house? Not having a number for months to come as the property clears probate court is anxiety provoking. It’s an excruciatingly slowly ticking clock to a great unknown, that has a firm clutch on our plans.

When we are ready to build come spring, we will have all the lumber we need from my grandfather in Winterport, who lives across from Mr. Mitten’s house, and up the road from my parent’s new house. The old man is in his 90’s and obsessively practical, making a lot of things he does hard to understand. He drinks the water he uses to boil his vegetables in after lunch. He uses sawdust from the sawmill in the cookstove. And those are only a few of his quirks.

I think he has a classic case of undiagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome. That would explain his difficult time relating to others, extreme social awkwardness, and odd rigid and repetitive behavior. He will undoubtedly give us a hard time about selling the farm to pursue our wild expedition, then wanting to build a house. At least he’s been to Bradford a few years back when we’d made plans to purchase it, just before Covid hit and we suddenly had a rental unit full of squatters for months.

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4 Comments on “Impatiently in limbo, so many things, so much time—and the ballad of Mr. Mittens

  1. Wow you sure have been through a lot I am glad for this post it gave me a summary of what you have been up to. Thanks for this and sending my love and prayers your way for what ever you end up doing You definitely are a survivor 🙃🙃

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