Tuesday, March 10, 2015

"What Can I Do to Help?"

Several people have told me recently, "I really love your blog."  While I deeply appreciate the sentiment, I am always a little startled by the word "your."  This blog was started as a way of sharing Peter's journey through chemo, radiation, surgery, and hopefully remission of esophageal cancer--though it didn't turn out that way. Though I did write the bulk of it, Peter was always a part of that process until he left us last December.  I write now about things that pertain to him, and about grief. Still, it doesn't feel like my blog.

Learning to say "my" instead of "our," and "I" instead of, "we" is challenging.  Putting the word "farm" after "my" is especially difficult, because it will forever and always be ours.  I am grateful that the Down Yonder Fund for the Arts (DYFA) really makes it so.

Already bands are practicing, and the first DYFA concert is scheduled for April 24th - a return of the band Darlingside on the heels of PeterFest (April 18).  Darlingside was here with Heather Maloney's first appearance in 2013.  Read and listen to them (with Heather) here:  NYT "Woodstock"

When Peter died in December everyone asked, "What can I do to help?"  Daughter Jessie put together a meal list that was so helpful, and I want to thank (and list) all the people who brought delicious food to sustain me:  Charlie Layman and Randy Varnadore (they made my sad birthday special), Gayle Dauverd, Lee Smith, Bob Nutter, Robin and Moss Cohen, Loftin Wilson, Jennifer Jackson, Kim Anderson, Susannah Smith, Liz Dowling-Sendor, Heather and Phil Cook, Toni and Billy Stevens, Erica Rappaport and Rob Gringle, Stacey Curelop, Nancy Spencer, Amy Gorely and John Bemis, Jasmine Irvin, Emily and Jim Douglas, Marie Kulchinski and Dick Wiersma, and the 13-14 Johnson Interns.  On top of all this, Lynden Harris and Mary Anne Handy coordinated all the food for the huge gathering that we held out here on December 13.  I know that many of you all contributed to that effort, so thank you, thank you.  And if I missed anyone (and I probably did), please forgive me.

At that time, in the blur of losing Peter, I didn't have a to-do list at hand.  People were offering help before Peter died, and he and I had started working on a list --but I can't find that now.

But help has materialized without a list.  On January 31 a crew assembled with chain saws and splitting mauls to replenish the wood I'd been burning this year.  I can't tell you the number of times I've thanked Peter for the wood he left me.
This is what is left as of March 9th, 2015
When Peter got home from his Philadelphia treatment last year about this time he went right out into the woods to cut and split.  This is one of my favorite pictures of him from that time.

The 01/31 team (Rick Lonan, Frank Ferrell, Joe Coates, Matt Gladdek, and me) worked like energizer bunnies and at the end of the long day our driveway was lined with stacks of wood, most of it split by Matt who managed to keep up with the chain saws.  My job was hauling the brush into the woods (and I couldn't keep up).

With the help of a new front-end loader, Heather Ferrell and I brought in most of the wood on Sunday, and today Geoff Hathaway showed up to split another big pile.

Sadly I didn't take pictures on the 31st or Sunday with Heather (working too hard!) but here is the pile we've amassed so far (and there is more out on the driveway):

This is bigger than my car!

Just a small part of what Geoff split and stacked today

Waiting to be split

Bright and shiny new loader

The reason that the wood is in that huge pile and not stacked neatly inside, as Peter would have had it, is that the old woodshed needs repair.  As you can see, it is leaning (the winter winds took a toll), and the little lean-too needs to be taken off and re-built once the log barn is stabilized.

Much of that is professional work (and I've contacted a few folks for estimates), but this brings me back to the list, and what some people can do to help as we prepare for PeterFest, which is the name friends have given to the 4/18 memorial service and musical celebration. Other items on the list are to maintain the farm for DYFA and for others who enjoy it.

Many thanks to Red's Rhythm Band, which Peter played with for years, for volunteering to clean and spruce up the music building and even make new curtains.  That will be a HUGE help.

I'll list a few other needs below.  I've tried to find a website along the lines of "takethemameal," but nothing has worked out quite right.  So see the list below and email sgladin@gmail.com if you want to jump in.

I do also have a list of needs for professionals, so if you are one of those and want to help that way, let me know your skill.

And, as always, thank you!  Jessie, Amanda, and I hope to see all of you on the 18th. --Susan

Rake sweetgum balls/leaves
Pick up branches, clear rest of yard
Bring firewood inSG/Heather Ferrell
Clean, update music building for PeterFestStacey and Red's Rhythm
Cut small trees around pond
pasture fence
Repair tin roofs all over
Replace fluorescent tubes in various buildings
Hang blindsB. Robertson/Susan
Clear brush/leaves off of driveway
Organize food for PeterFest
Organize parking for PeterFest