The Survivors

This blog has been all about the human side of daily life, the inner thoughts and emotions that bat us about from time to time. One person’s opinion and perception, nothing much challenging or deep… mostly some ramblings from a musician who lives out here “on the edge of the country” and his feelings about it, about growing old, and about sharing memories of a life (hopefully) well-lived.


It’s been a rough year and a half for all of us, in one way or another, sometimes in many ways. We’ve all been tested to some degree, and those of us who are still here, especially those of us over 70, should be thankful that we’re survivors, regardless of how we pulled it off.

Betty and I are grateful to be among the survivors… for many reasons. We love our life together, we’ve never been happier, and we continue to be amazed at the incredible chaos that goes on daily outside our little town. I have imagined, from time to time, that a few of you would love to be living out here in the great Northwest, but circumstances of one sort or another have made it impractical or simply too difficult. Perhaps you know, or have a sense of, how very sweet life is out here… especially given the state of much of the rest of the planet. Betty and I thank our lucky stars, and each other, every day for the good fortune that has brought us together and deposited us here, on this beautiful island.

Since the pandemic, there haven’t been so many roses, but there also have been very few thorns. We’re both old now, so we’ve been careful. We’ve semi-quarantined since March 2020, and have given ourselves every chance to get totally sick of each other. That hasn’t happened. There’s no better way to get to know a person, to really know them, than to spend time with them under pressure, or to see them operate in an emergency or tragic situation. Those shared experiences will reveal the real and true fibre of the other person, as well as your own.

Yes, we’ve lost loved ones during the pandemic. Yes, we’ve lost a few friends along the way, and yes, we now see the very fabric of this country much clearer than we did before.

Like many of you, we got good and bored, and frustrated, with the continued quarantining, and with the incredible stupidity of those whose warped sense of personal freedom outweighed their sense of care and consideration for their fellow man. Within that continued frustration with that element of mankind that cannot see beyond their own momentary selfish needs and beliefs, we decided to join them… kind of accidentally. Oh, we always wore our masks, and painfully social-distanced, and chased the vaccine for two months before we finally got our shots. No, we joined them from the perspective of thinking about what WE wanted to make our lives better. Not that our lives haven’t been terrific all along, but rather, out of the continued quarantine, we began thinking about how to improve our daily lives… how to enhance our already beatific existence with another challenge of some sort. We couldn’t (wouldn’t) travel. Hell, we couldn’t even go up to Canada or over to Hawaii… no one wanted us stupid, diseased Americans, and I don’t blame them. So here we were… what to do? Why, decide to add a new room to our living room, of course!

Well, it was a great idea, and it actually worked, though it took an interesting toll on each of us. We, like most Americans, thought that Covid was about to be under control and that life, this past summer was in the process of returning to normal. Ha. Haha! I should have known that the new variants, coupled with the sad amount of us still unvaccinated, would signal the return of the restrictions we were all hoping to get out from under, finally. Well, we got the addition to our living room built after 5 months. We regret the process on many levels, but we love the result! We have a new appreciation for our daily privacy, our noise (and dust) – free environment, We’re no longer wondering if the electrician or gas guy or property inspector is going to show up or not. We no longer eat our lunch to the relaxing sound of a sawzall cutting a huge hole in our outer wall. No, we now have a renewed appreciation for the quiet and peace that once again has settled in our cottage, and our new room.

There was a time back in August where I was sure I would hate the new room for at least several months… resenting it for the noisy, disruptive (and dusty) way it permeated our summer and turned it into something we had to endure, rather than simply enjoy. Now, in a rare and surprising moment of brutal honesty, I must admit I was wrong! The last worker finished Wednesday, Sept. 8. The last payment on the contract was made, peace and quiet rolled into our cottage like a Tsunami, and the promised three-month inconvenience that turned into a five-month nightmare was finally ended!

You might be thinking, “Well, they’re old… they don’t have any patience for noise or changes in plans. And you might be right, of course… except that I’m not going to bore you with the ugly details of what we had to deal with on a daily basis. Nope, not even an example. Trust us on this, it got ridiculous at times, and we had to stay on top of it, every day! No, wait… I’ll give you a short one. One morning Betty got hit on the head by a falling ladder as the contractor was trying to show her a problem with the foundation.

It’s been elucidating, to say the least. In all, we were aware that our daily difficulties, frustrating as they were, were a joke, compared to all the folks in this country who lost their homes to fire and hurricanes this summer. Not even mentioning all the folks who lost their loved ones to Covid. Most evenings we would talk through our frustrations, how we handled them, and reminded each other how lucky we were by comparison. Betty is especially good at this, keeping it all in perspective and seeing the bigger picture. And man, did it serve us well!

Instead of resenting the new room for the problems and angst it caused us, we sat down in it last month, turned on the TV and just grinned at each other. The new room felt absolutely fantastic, even Hemingway was running and wagging around the new room. We turned on the new fireplace and shared plans for how to furnish and decorate it.

At one point this summer, I was sitting out on the deck in the morning sun, sipping my coffee and trying to take stock of it all. I was thinking that we might have lost a summer, but we gained a new room that we’ll enjoy for years to come. Once again we are survivors of a difficult time, and damned proud of it! And since you’re reading this, you’re a survivor as well. Feels pretty good, doesn’t it?

Steve Hulse


2 Replies to “The Survivors”

  1. Another good read – thank you. Here’s to being old, being together, and to 5 months of construction hell turning into a fantastic space that you’ll truly enjoy. (You should have gotten a bigger TV…)

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