Sometimes you just have to say 50 Hail Marys

Sometimes, you just have to say your 50 Hail Mary’s.

On the previous Friday afternoon I received a text message from my neighbor, remember, in the middle of the Oroville dam spilling, and closer to home, half the roads on Skyline falling down the hill in mudslides. He said, my dock had come lose, that it was blowing 35 mph, and he was worried it would come undone and crash into his boat and dock, which would have been neither good for the neighborly relationships, nor the wallet. There really wasn’t anything to do than to go up and try and fix it. And I had to go along to help, nevermind my back, besides, without the use of carpool lanes, we’d never get there. So I crawled into the car, and with multiple stops to relieve pain and panic attacks, we, that being John and me, made our way up to Bethel Island in roughly three-and-a-half hours Friday rush hour traffic. There are people who make a trip like this every day, twice; I have no idea how they keep even a shred of sanity and bodily health.

When we got there, it was dark, very cold, blowing like crazy, and the dock was precariously lose, indeed, with the tide up, the water was less than two feet below the crest of the levee, and there was some current. We had brought a rope and tools. John climbed across the rickety, rotting gangway over to the rotting decrepit dock, carrying a floodlight and a rope. I couldn’t carry anything heavier than a pound and made it halfway across, then my brain collapsed in fear of falling. Only one plank broke as John stood in the storm, trying to lasso the dock to the piling. He had not luck. We decided we needed a boat, and the only boat available in this weather was the kayak that we’d gotten for Christmas, and that I had brought up the week before. I had to help get the kayak in the water, my back was screaming, my brain was screaming louder, but mostly, I was so worried about John falling in, I was shaking. He handed me the end of the rope and said, “Pull me out if I fall in.” And I thought, you are going to sink like a rock, and I can’t even carry a carton of milk.

He got on the kayak, mind you, with a left-handed paddle (because that’s what I use), in all his clothes, and the other end of the rope. The wind was fighting him, he fought back, and fortunately this boat is very stable. I knew I could do nothing except be terrified. I must have said fifty Hail Mary’s and then it was done and John the Hero tied up the dock and we had cup of noodles and I got to crawl into bed and cry.

—— Epilogue

The next day, my back was very, very sore, but no noticeable swelling and no terrible nerve pain. I made the much faster trip back OK. The ropes held, and so did the Oroville dam; but a colleague had all the roads from her house blocked or gone, and they were running out of gas for the generator.

A couple of days ago, Richard went out with a few people and patched the dock together more solidly. I wanted him to just take it down, but for permitting for the new dock, that’s a bad idea since we want to permit a repair.

My back is doing OK. It’s been getting a little better in some way every day, even with setbacks. Most discomfort is muscle soreness up and down my spine. I spend 2-3 hours a day doing rehab-related physical things. I am getting stronger, and that builds resilience. Six week until I leave for Austin, Texas.