}

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Restorative work

The first screen shot I shared.
Not everything related to my journey is specifically about emotions, though everything is connected in some way or other. Obviously time doesn’t “care” about my feelings: It marches on regardless, and I need to adapt. Over the past 37 weeks, adaptation has been a major part of what I’ve been doing; that’s actually obvious, but also an important part of that is restoring what I can of the life I used to have. That’s been surprisingly easy.

Awhile back, I decided to work on restoring the technological stuff that Nigel set-up for us, and I’ve succeeded with a lot of that. For example, I got our VoIP phone system running, I got our robot vacuum running again, and this week I got our weather station running again. All of that is stuff that Nigel found and maintained for us, and I had little to do with it, apart from using it. That’s all changed now.

A month ago, I said:
Among other interests, Nigel loved technology and was always coming up with new ways to use technology to make our lives better (like the solar powered gate I talked about back in October). He was often changing things so they’d be “better, faster, stronger”, as I sometimes put it to him. He smiled when I said that, with his little cheeky grin that showed me he was in on the joke.
…I was happy to let Nigel tinker away with stuff as much as he wanted to because it made him happy. He enjoyed it so much, and if I’m honest, I felt it was kind of cute how passionate he got about things that many of us would’ve thought of as boring (like a phone system).
All of which means that I didn’t need to know about all the technology stuff I used because Nigel took care of it all. I relied on him because I could rely on him. Now I’m learning to rely on myself.

It still surprises me sometimes that I can figure this stuff out on my own, thanks to finding stuff out through the miracle of the Internet, not for the first time (whenever Nigel would wonder aloud about something, I’d say, “If only we had a global network of interconnected computers!” In fact, I still say that).

Along the way, I’ve found out stuff that he either didn’t know or didn’t mention. That weather station is a good example. It has an outdoor module that records temperature, humidity, etc., and the initial batteries would last a couple years (according to the product literature). They eventually failed, and when we replaced them they’d last a few days, a week at most, before going flat. Nigel thought it was because the unit had been in water at one point, but I found out that it’s a known and often complained about thing. Nigel probably did know that, but never said anything, which led me to think he just never got around to fixing the problem.

Nigel bought the system’s rain gauge and wind gauge, but never hooked them up. He 3D-printed some brackets to attach them to posts, but never did. Part of that was because he wanted to fix the problem with the outdoor module, but it was mainly because he’d moved on to two new interests, a video surveillance security system first, then wind turbines to generate power (he wanted to be able to run our computer servers from wind power so our electricity use would be no more than any other household—less, ideally. Before he died, Nigel gave the wind stuff to our brother-in-law because, living on a more rural property than we did, he could use it; Nigel also knew I never would.

So, I set up the weather system’s base unit, and got it working with the App on my phone. Next, I put batteries in the outdoor unit to get it set-up, too, and I later got rechargeable batteries to use in it when the current ones fail. If I was clever at electronics, I bet I could set up a solar system to power it in the day and charge the batteries for the night, but I’m not that clever. Yet.

I also looked at how to get the wind and rain gauges set-up, and I’ll soon get them running, too. It’ll be one of the first technological things where I’ve gone beyond—improved, even—what Nigel left behind.

The security system is a similar thing. Nigel got a system with three wireless cameras, and was so proud of himself because he got it for at most 20% of what NZ retailers charged for the same thing. He always found great deals like that. We only used one camera, pointed toward the front gate, but he had plans for the other two—him having plans to do something is a theme running through all this.

When I was packing up the house I removed the camera and shut off the base unit. The camera batteries had gone flat some time before that—in fact, probably before Nigel died, or shortly afterward. Whatever video that had been recorded was automatically deleted after a few days (as it always is). This was a good thing: Because the camera was off, it didn’t record the ambulance that took him away for the last time, nor the hearse bringing him back or taking him to his funeral. If I’d had those videos, I know I wouldn’t have been able to avoid watching them, and that probably wouldn’t have been helpful.

What all of this has in common is that I was faced with technological challenges because Nigel always maintained the bits and pieces, and I just used them. I got used to using those things, but the bigger issue is that I wanted to restore some of the comfortable aspects of the life I had with Nigel, and the technological stuff we used to have would help do that for me.

What I’ve learned through this is that I can figure stuff out (eventually…) for myself, that I can rely on myself in at least some of the ways I used to rely on Nigel. This was a huge surprise to me, and a really good thing to find out.

I still can’t even imagine what life without Nigel could be, but at least I now know that, as he hoped for a lot in his last couple weeks, I’ll be okay. Regaining some of the technological things we had together will definitely help with that.

It turns out that such restorative work pays bigger dividends than merely getting stuff working again. It gets me working again, too. Win/win.

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