Wednesday’s Words/ Nonfiction: Learning to Relent

I had a whole other topic developing in my mind the last couple of days for this post, but I am a bit waylaid. Literally. I can’t sit at my computer desk that long today, certainly not without getting up and moving about some. The other, more involving topic will have to wait. I considered not writing, at all, but it’s a habit I love so I will give a whirl.

I live with chronic pain and have ever since my teens. Most people can’t or won’t see it, not even my husband or other family members. There are days it yanks me off a more livable plateau and won’t release its strangling grip. I know large numbers of people have this problem. Pain relieving prescriptions are a gigantic business, as are other interventions/treatment systems. And if a person suffers the complex ramifications of a severe injury or lifelong debilitating disease–well, all the bearing up, the seeking solutions, the gritting of teeth, the prayers for aid…it goes on and on. I’ve known some of those people and don’t know how they get on with life. Everyone is unique in their tolerance and self-care plan. Many finally do not get on much, at all, and become addicted to pain pills or end up couch-bound. Or worse.

I have for decades pushed against or sought detours around the most negative outcomes and still do. I mean, to live a decent life, one must often push forward, right? I tend to view my health challenges as that picture of the tunnel above: it gets so dark but I can still see the light out there–there is always some way through the strictures of suffering. You come to it, it is gotten through, perhaps even alleviated as well as it can be. Then, fresh air and sunlight are hailed once more. Until the next time. If there are no long term solutions, there are temporary stays from the worst–usually. I need to get creative, at times.

One thing I shy away from is pain medication. If deemed medically critical, the lightest type of prescription pain reliever is used at lowest milligram, in smallest doses and for a day or a night. I am in recovery from alcohol and drug dependence that began as a young woman (partly due to serious digestion issues that remain) so I am not about to go back down a more miserable path. I feel so strongly about this that when in the hospital for chest pain and my cardiologist insisted I take the IV Demerol I was adamant I would not. In frustration, he gave me something else, he didn’t explain his choice. But it was just enough until the tests were completed. On the other hand, as he has informed me assertively, pain control is important for worsening inflammatory responses and increased blood pressure– and my heart health. I got hit with heart disease fairly young, at 51. So I try to ignore it less and treat it the best I can. I don’t want to ruin all the work he and I have done.

It’s not always easy for me to even pinpoint the cause of pain, and that can complicate things. It might be a big surprise and then it can move about, am I right? Last night I had a creeping headache with sudden worsening back-of-neck pain that spread into my back. I took an OTC pain pill, then another in an hour. But it plagued me, anyway. I had to make inventory of all I had done the last few days to solve the “What” of it. I had been reading a good hour at the dining room table, which meant the bad discs in my neck got irritated as I hunched over to read, elbows on table, head bowed down. I also had half-picked up my toddler granddaughters earlier and carried fairly heavy grocery bags up stairs and into our place. And done some cleaning. All these create more stress on an already tricky backbone and spine. So I hypothesized that was it. But even as the headache decreased, it hurt when I took deep breaths. This was a little alarming, but I had no other symptoms; my actual breathing was alright, I felt fine except for pain. In time it seemed to lessen with a heating pad against the back of my good chair, a short neck massage by Marc, and one low dose muscle relaxant. In the morning I felt much improved with barest pain, then none. But after sitting, reading and then typing, there is more pain in my upper back and neck. It is kind of hollering at me so I will pause…

I am sharing this because those who have pain–or worsening pain attacks– understand this process of attention, examination, tentative conclusions, plan of action. It can be time intensive and certainly can interfere with the usual rhythms of life. How does one diagnose the source of acute or lingering pain? I have to carefully check in with my biological systems to tick various boxes: is it coming from stomach pain or gut (GERD/gastritis/colitis)? Is it those crunched or bulging discs in neck and the spinal stenosis getting worse? Is it the tricky behaviors of my heart (coronary artery disease and arrhythmias)? Is it an overreaction to my body’s cues?

Likely not the last. If anything, I have been told I underreact and under-treat. Why?

So many have been taught to be stoic. I know I was. My mother got kicked by a horse as a teen and had no professional medical treatment, and all her life she endured nearly unremitting back pain. I can still see her with an arm tucked behind her back, her fist pressed against the throbbing spot. Sometimes she lay down to rest but she always popped up and got busy again and rarely said a thing about it. She could be washing floors or dressing in brocade for the opera all the while in pain, but she kept on. My father simply ignored health matters as long as possible and loathed doctors. (They both lived into their 80s and 90s my mother longer, but may have lived longer…). A child learns by watching; I learned to minimize my physical discomforts, carry on with a smile. A good attitude could make a difference, in fact; l I had witnessed it, found it often true. Besides which, it was embarrassing to admit to weakness. Who wants to feel weak? Not me, no then, and often, not now.

I was a natural athlete as a child and teen and craved physical activity. I wasn’t into team sports–it was figure skating, cycling, running, diving, swimming, water skiing, softball, volleyball, dancing and so on. And these obviously required vigorous engagement. Even singing and playing cello required sustained output of energy and concerted efforts for long periods. One thing expected was a consistent effort to push through aches and bruises. (“No pain, no gain”–right? The American sports mantra. But it isn’t useful for some of us, at times.) It stuck with me into adulthood when ailments became more intractable, yet I still loved being active outdoors. I also began weight training and body building a few years. Plus I had five kids–so who had time to sit around? I told my kids to get up when they fell, wipe the blood off and keep going; I was naturally doing the same. Or was that such a “natural” response? My children, now adults, have significantly followed suit–they like to think they’re tough. Maybe they are–but at what cost in the end?)

Maybe it’s time to take a look at all these ingrained beliefs again. Progress has definitely occurred since I went off the rails as a teen and other major dips in my late 30s into early 40s. I had to learn to stop forever charging into life. That extended to needing to slow down my well-known hard driving stride upon all surfaces whether with my boots, high heels, hiking boots or bare feet. Take a break, I had to tell myself, not every second is critical to anything or anyone... Undue or persistent stress, one’s life pressures mismanaged creates more aches and pains, thus worsening one’s health status. Seems simple.

My life is no longer all work, too much tiredness and minimal play. Well, I am retired now but believe me, early retirement was still lots of work at home. I still keep an daily agenda book filled with tasks and goals… But perfection is unnecessary, for one thing. Suffering is not always part of the deal, either. My body needs loving care as much as my mind and spirit. I finally got it by age 45, that lightbulb coming on full wattage after another divorce, more years of sobriety, fascinating work and better friendships, more frequent outdoor activities, reading for fun and not always education. Oh, and the board games and cards. I rediscovered the simple pleasure of quietly playing a few again– not to win but to…play!

Still, here I am typing away when my upper back and neck are cringing like mad. (At some point, I remind myself I also was in a bad car accident two months ago, with whiplash and other jolts that may still impact nerves and tissues.) I have gotten up and down a half dozen times as I’ve written. Had a cheddar cheese and cracker snack, made more delicious tea, threw another two wet loads into the dryer. I have stretched, shaken it all out, turned up the heat as a cold rain splatters the ground. Marc will be home soon and I think he will make dinner…it relaxes him, aggravates me too often.

Earlier I took a hilly 45 minute walk even though it hurt some. I fully believe in walking for whole health, perhaps especially for pain management of body and mind. But when I got home I called my cardiologist to set up a check up appointment soon–I usually see him once a year now but it seems a good time before holidays– took another acetaminophen, and got my cozy blanket to wrap about as I write. I may get that heating pad going next and read a bit in my best chair. Despite it being daylight and thinking I really have more to do. Must I still fight against feeling I will be giving in to getting older?

Well, Cynthia, you are getting older; the body takes a beating as it moves closer to that point. Repeat after me: it is alright to practice regular self-care and time outs.

I do know what to do now that I have learned hard lessons over time–including getting medical help when needed. So now I must end this post: I do relent. It is fine to relent. In fact, it is important to stop struggling at times, rest the painful places, allow more of nature’s healing to happen. And to ask for more help from Divine Love. There is that light at the end of the tunnel; I am going for that once more. Always.

I will check in Friday with a poem. I hope you all take care of your bodies, hearts, minds, as well.

Wednesday’s Words/Nonfiction: Once Abandoned, Always Abandoned?

Photo by Pelipoer Lara on Pexels.com

Families leave legacies to the next generation, and young children likely have little clue what they will get. I don’t mean material goods–though the getting or not getting of those can pack power, too. I mean emotional goods. I hazard that as a kid, you get what you get, and you don’t truly know that it just is what it is, or perhaps not until much later. We come into the world from a watery womb and then it is a bubble consisting of family first and most of the time…. though by school age the outside world seeps in, anyway. Maybe we make nice friends, meet other adults we like. But home is the seat of our emotions. It steers us in ways we may not be conscious of as we grow up, choosing each tentative step to more independence. And when we take off, fledglings no more, it is a surprise that there often seems to be more of the same, a similar content as we attempted to escape.

So what dos that mean to those who have been abandoned early and perhaps often? I haven’t counselled clients in several years about the emotional minefields which being left behind creates for countless adults. It can brings too often self-loathing and self sabotage; it leads to addictive behaviors; it can lead to death. It is likely too big a topic to try to blog about, but I write of it, anyway. And I have been hearing talk of this topic in a broad way within my circle. A sister not paying attention during a visit. A spouse forgetting an anniversary. A friend moving away and never calling. A parent of someone’s niece getting lost in addiction–again. A partner on the verge of calling it quits. We all have “fear of abandonment” and have tasted the bitter fruit of it.

But many seem to be reviewing relationships more closely–that includes the one with our own selves. The pandemic has presented long hours of solitude, time to look into life with an acute vision, to bring up the past as well as try to imagine a more challenged future. Concerns might arise in roundabout ways as people deal with multiple difficult experiences, are worried about family members or see themselves stuck in an situation not as healthy as they prefer. As they intended and worked towards. They see the connections between years gone by and current times. Often issues they thought had been bypassed/outgrown/resolved are resurfacing during the days and nights of stress. More often than not it comes down to being left in actual fact or feeling as such at a vulnerable time of life. Being set aside by someone who was considered constant and trustworthy yet suddenly was not. Feeling a lone even with others around because somehow the ties began to fray.

It feels like getting punched in the heart. Abandonment. We don’t even care for the word: it echoes with crying out, shakes with anger, tells us we are unloved. It defines an emptied place inside us just as a building fully abandoned telegraphs that reality. It’s a big word, and carries a far more powerful feeling that just “uninhabited or “empty.”

What if a parent left you literally or figuratively when young but it was never discussed, even though that parent was basically around? Or if a parent was there for you–then came a divorce and the family decision was to bar that person from even finding you? (That is a true and terrible story.) Or someone gave you up to foster care because you were so “difficult’ or the caregiver was simply unable to deal with life on life’s terms. These are not minor separations from love, what was perceived and believed as love. It is clear that this sort of loss is a pain with staying power. An agony, even. And that goes for the ones who long ago decided they would be impervious to the gaping internal chasms created by those who might–and do–leave them. Even they cannot fully staunch seepage from the festering wound when it comes down to it.

So, once abandonment has occurred, does one ever get over it? Or is this the theme music by which a person is doomed to work and play and laugh and rage? I believe such woundedness can be healed, and know that it does happen. Maybe not perfectly so, leaving no trace, but enough that life is freer, fuller, even happier.

Those who have read my posts a long while know that as a child I was sexually abused a few years by a non-blood relative. I was blithely living my life until then. Soon, the facts were clear: no one was aware of or paid attention to signs of my increasing distress, no one seemed to care, and there was no rescue or plan of aid.

These things made an indelible impression. What had been a life of security and safety, genuine affection, careful guidance and support were about erased just like that. My mother–a caring mother I adored but who knew nothing of coping with such a thing in the 1950s– strongly suspected but never confronted me or the perpetrator. If the abuse was bad enough, the abandonment was as bad–if not worse. With no swift and loving intervention I was left to survive on my own. And that told me that I was weirdly, shockingly, not loved enough, after all, to be saved from constant fear and danger. I would not be surrounded by love like a fortress. It would have instigated a healing process and initiated legal action–which is becoming more common today, thankfully. But unheard of 65 years ago.

And I paid the price, which included a strong expectation of ever more recurrent abandonment. Who can a child and then youth trust if not her parents and others in the family who were kind, capable and just there? Then just no longer there, so it had to be my fault; it made no sense that wonderful parents and siblings could let this happen. Everything that had been marvelous in my life began to feel bad. I felt marked, changed, wrong and wronged, and uncertain of so many things. I took all that with me as I tried to grow up alright, though deeply unwell. Tried to be a credit to my accomplished and respected family, but often failed badly, filled with more shame. How to overcome and rise up? To suture up those torn places that abandonment had made?

I had, it turned out, some decent tools for a better life already.

The most important thing was that I already had known deeply what it was to be loved, helped, included in a family of seven. I had been taught useful values and skills–how to play well with others and so how to make friends; how to plan, work hard and seek good results; how to use my curiosity to learn interesting things; how to get up when I fell down, clean up the scrapes, try again. How to keep clear focus when everything around me was pandemonium in a small house. So I had a basic sense of competency and self worth despite the harshness of a very different experience.

And I knew how to pray for help and comfort. That was a practical skill that segued with daily words from my father: “Chin up, honey”, i.e., be positive and have dignity, look upward, keep going forward. I could do both by 7 years old. If bad things happened to me, to my family, then I would make more good things happen. Nothing was insurmountable, apparently, according to my parents, and according to Jesus’ teachings. We earthlings were meant to be “greater than angels” I had heard, so the least I could do was be a human being who kept trying for better.

But then I had years of trials and errors, false starts and detours that took me to more harm. Still, giving up was not truly an option. I held onto the conviction that there were more choices available, that I’d recover, learn again to live well. I found many. Others were pointed out to me. Some seemed mysteriously there when I needed them. I was relentless in the search for answers and resources– and discovered I was not alone in my difficulties. And I learned that loving parents can be afraid, too, with too few good answers, and lacking adequate support. That they surely seem omnipotent to a child and youth but are mainly bigger human beings still trying to figure things out. They fail. They have regrets. And still they care as much as they can, in the ways they can.

Forgiveness has been helpful. The kind of forgiveness that doesn’t deny the pain and loss and remnants of anger… yet can arise from a greater compassion for the cruel offender as well as those who did the abandoning (for whatever reasons they had, it begins to matter less and less). But also: forgiveness of myself. For the many times I failed myself along the way, the skewed ideas and senseless decisions, the difficult reactions to others, missed opportunities, a sometimes hardened heart. The failure to love enough, even–my own self and many others. If I don’t forgive, then who? And who will give me needed relief if I cannot seek and accept it first? Then comes a new peace, slowly but profoundly.

Love doesn’t come with any pain-free guarantee. I learned that lesson well. I used to change the final page of fairy tales when I read to my own kids. I instead made up an ending that indicated life went on, sure, but with good and not-so-good, and that if there is a someone to share it with then that matters most, not an elusive “happily ever after”. There is going to be hardship awaiting us all. There are no spectacular times without visitations of difficulty or sadness. So, then, why not embrace it all?

There have, of course, been betrayals over the years, ones I thought might break me. Misunderstandings that kept me up at night. Words thrown at me that I wish I never heard. Leave-takings that almost broke my heart. Illnesses that have taken me or another to the edge and back. And there are also triggers from time to time that I feel coming alive deep within: See, I caution myself, there it is, this is a thing that might recall that old abandonment but it is NOT the same so I need to separate myself from it to avoid mistaking it for that terrible thing. It is an illusion; you make of it what you will. Be a grown up and take responsibility, refuse to be a victim of the past, such an old fear. If dipping into the ole self-pity pool happens, anyway, I further counsel myself, then keep it short and get over it; learn something and move on. There is nothing quite as relieving as a storming cry, a kick at the dirt, spouting off in private–then finding something positive to do. If it’s something truly needing a remedy, it is meant to be faced so a plan to address it needs to happen. After that, I hope I have done what I can, then will choose to do the next good thing. But in the final analysis, I will not ever abandon myself.

There are possibilities for change on every level. So many ways to move in a healthier direction and create a better time of it. I believe in myself–that I can be hurt and recover, that I can make something worthwhile out of less than I may want to have. That life is beautiful, still, and so are other people. I have hope in my faith in God. The truth is, everyone everyone on this planet is abandoned at some point; we each carry the memories and it is how we carry them. We love and we lose–romantic relationships fall apart, friends move away or move on, people we adore, die. We face ourselves in dark places and learn how to find courage for the battles, the truces, the peacemaking. Its seems to be the way things go here on earth. But I will risk it every time to experience the power and wonder of loving–and being loved– and how it shapes and propels my life. That’s the sort of legacy I want to leave my children and grandchildren.

Wednesday’s Words/Nonfiction: Check One- Spiritual? Religious?

The question for me is: can we not choose both? I can and do, but often in our roiling, defensive, divisive social milieu, it can seem wiser to keep it all to myself.

Not only these days but, honestly, as long as I have been here we’ve been offered a plethora of options for personal belief, endless pegs on which to hang our hats at doorways into various faith systems. “Step right this way!” It can be brain-stunning, considering the bombardment of ads, social media platforms and random videos. Some revolve around specific diets; some require certain forms and lengths of meditation or prayer; some involve lifestyle changes, such as leaving modern technology and possessions behind; still others insist on engagement just within that proscribed community; and often the center of it all is an allegiance to a religious–or spiritual- leader. They may ask of practitioners certain ritualistic behaviors that may be forbidden to “outside” persons.

Though there are often several cross-over elements to faiths and practices–an aspiration to enlightenment, whatever that is for the group; a belief in the wisdom of the earth; a commitment to times of ascetic, solitary devotion to core beliefs–there are also clear divides. I bump into some of these out in the world: a unique dress code followed; jewelry worn to identify a wearer as a follower of that faith; tomes read that are reflective of one’s serious study of that belief and none other; café discussions that devolve before long into arguments. And the various posters hawking this natural lifestyle or that set of soul-and-body-purifying methods, or meetings to instruct one of an avenue less travelled. They all state they lead to “a well being of wholeness.” And maybe we are a bit more fragmented in 2021…so some might be tantalizing, while others seem absurd. A few beliefs are popular in our culture; some are decidedly not. And how far can a philosophy venture before it is considered a “fringe” movement? There is room for everything out there.

Or is there? It likely depends on where you live and who you are. I can’t say being Christian is easy on the Northwest. Then again, I had not thought of it much one way or another–then it turns out not everyone tolerates other peoples’ faith affiliations… Who knew the liberal West could be that judgmental? I am a left of center sort of person but, then, there are just lots of rumors out there about what my faith means and what it does not. No one asks for my ideas or experience. I want to be nonjudgmental of the naysayers. But hope for more respectful and open discussion. As recall it really was more likely decades ago.

The one thing many people contend is that religious principles and beliefs are in opposition to spiritual ones. Distant from one another, not at all the same. Choose one or the other–but the two do not mix. Or so we are encouraged to think. Here are the first three definitions from Merriman-Webster says:

Definition of spiritual, adjective:

1: of, relating to, consisting of, or affecting the spiritINCORPOREAL spiritual needs

2a: of or relating to sacred matters spiritual songs

b: ecclesiastical rather than lay or temporal

spiritual authority, lords spiritual

3: concerned with religious values

Yet they remain separate to lots of people despite there being an overlap that is significant. Religion generally gets a side or back seat, if any seat, at a proverbial round table talk. Additionally, we learn early the two topics that are most incendiary are politics and religion. Humans wage wars over both–at great length and to great losses. Maybe that is why some are loathe to address actual religion. We too often tiptoe about it–that is, unless we are moved to speak up loudly/protest/rally in the name of whatever we hold dear. I grew up in the 60s so know about protesting. But when it comes to my faith, I do not unleash a humungous voice, usually. In fact I am very often quiet in most arenas. And I don’t like the sense that there is less and less choice for being able to share, to talk, to discuss openly– without penalty.

When did t his shift happen…? Over a lifetime I have sat around many tables, energetically engaged in debate that have led to insights with deeper understanding. A welcoming energy has been noticeable as ideas were bandied about. Bridges were constructed. Even with topics religious and political. Yes, there can be conflict and words one wanted to retrieve at the end of it all. But it wasn’t an exercise in disrespect or worse, cruelty.

More recently I have become more habituated to being quiet about things of the spirit unless I think present company will tolerate, perhaps enjoy, such conversation. Sometimes it is hard. My life is imbued with what matters most to me. As it is for most people–even if we are not conscious of it. We grow into such things and they accompany us on life journeys, shaped and reshaped, changed or replaced as we go. And one’s philosophy or faith is the same.

If I was still a serious seeker, perhaps looking for a religion, I would likely be overwhelmed. I tend to delve in, immerse myself in ideas–the nitty gritty. Because of that characteristic, I looked into various religions as youth and young adult–as young people are apt to do. Besides, I had had multiple experiences that didn’t necessarily cohere with what I had learned of the Protestant traditional ways of faith. Long before adolescence, I had a sense of deeply holy presence in my life, and divinity alive in complex realms of nature as well as human beings. I had difficulty finding words for this as a child and teenager but it seemed endemic to all natural-made life, and it reached far greater than the world beyond mine. And before I even knew what well-honed intuition and “extra sensory perception” meant, I was familiar with it within me. It never seemed unusual or extra anything. For one thing, my mother had it and used it without explanation or fanfare. In fact, it seemed almost a family thing. So–traditional church, spirituality, sacredness, intuition, everyday applications of belief and faith…it was all wrapped up together.

Raised in the First United Methodist Church by parents who left their childhood Southern Baptist and Church of Christ affiliations, respectively, when they moved north from Missouri, I was more or less at ease. (I later realized how radical a thing they did according to their Southern/Midwest culture.) I was shown that Christianity’s hallmark beliefs are based on Jesus Christ’s teachings: of love of God, others and one’s self; mercy; forgiveness; a deep commitment to supporting human progress–for the betterment of one and all; and personal accountability and authenticity. It made basic sense to me in my childish understanding and later, as I transitioned into adulthood. I learned more as I went, but these stuck with me even when it didn’t always add up to the reality of my life.

It was a moderate sized church community in a smaller city, housed in a building that Alden B. Dow had designed; it was lovely moving through it, gazing out beautiful windows. And what I heard was what I experienced. People were congenial but much more–considerate, quick to help others in need (not just at church), generous-minded, gentle mannered but strong in the face of tragedy. I went to Sunday school each Sunday morning, then joined the family in the sanctuary. I attended church camp many summers–fun with others and nature; participated in events at Christmas and Easter; and was confirmed in the faith at 12. My father oversaw the music; my family sang or contributed instrumentally–a favorite part of services was robustly singing hymns from pews or in the choir loft.

As I moved into teen-dom I was, for a time, in a Methodist Youth Fellowship; we were active in the community helping others. But I began to diverge from known entities and ways as I grappled with trauma, increasing drug use over the next several years as I tried to cope. Yet I was not one to ignore the implacable sense of God here, there, everywhere. I wrestled with often obscure but profound meanings of existence, the greater purpose of living. I drew closer to nature’s mysteries and lessons and sought out ancient Celtic ways (some of which still resonate with me). I read books on philosophy and world religions. I sought out magazine articles of other cultures’ spiritual practices. I became interested in shamanism and poured over Kierkegaard and CS Lewis and marveled at their different views. Then Joseph Campbell’s writings on classical mythology, Native American beliefs, Christian saints and arcane writings, Buddhism and meditation, white witchcraft and paganism, Subud, Bahai, parapsychology, the uses of graphology and astrology–well, the list went on for years…Some of this seeped into me as surely as Christianity. I sorted and tossed as I began to embrace enlarged viewpoints.

Did all this worry my parents? There weren’t arguments, but there was voiced concern. They felt I was far too serious, even somber for a teen-ager; so did many of my classmates. In time, I found more friends–those in the arts, those who loved to exchange ideas. Many of us became hippies, playing folk music, aligning ourselves with natural ways and means of living. But with the advent of the anti-establishment movement we became more politically engaged. That opened up a whole other vista. Religion could pose as nearly anything, it seemed; doctrine could have many facets and faces. But not all were Christian, of course. We were busy trying to be “free spirits.”

Heady times, dangerous times, passionate days and nights and beliefs to explore and dreams and justice to fight for. I became involved with Students for a Democratic Society for three years. By then, my parents were very concerned; no doubt their prayers were more fervent for my well being; we became estranged at times. I had begun to forge my own path out of childhood and their home. By 16 I had essentially left; by 18 I had literally moved on. Many ups and downs taught me to fight my own battles, alone or with other young adults.

Except that I still believed in God. Nothing was capable of shaking that up much or for long. I might have felt alone, been literally abandoned. But I knew I wasn’t, truly. And through it all, I felt and remained Christian.

Looking back, I have no complaint about being raised in that Methodist church. I left it awhile and returned to it, have off and on attended other Methodist churches wherever I have lived as well as others. For some time it all seemed bland, too moderate for me, but that also spoke to my tumult and hunger for different experiences. I was looking for greater passion to put to use in life, more effective activism in society– and a truer response to God’s ubiquitous presence.

By my early twenties it hit me that my faith could be as strong or weak as I intended it to be. That it changed as I grew up, went on. And that it didn’t require me to attend a church, though that was good, too, if it benefitted me and, later, my family. But the priority was that I live it, daily walk it– not just talk it. I intended to try always to adhere to the chosen tenets to the best of my capability, not get messy and slack off because it was challenging at times to believe, even harder to act on them. And it mattered that I continue making my sacred relationship with God my first priority. And take to heart Jesus’ teachings which were rooted in love’s wisdom and shaped by extraordinary courage in his own vexing, turbulent times–and yet serve scores in an often tragic, angry world.

Have I been able to follow through? I have made errors in my life, some grave and damaging ones. I have failed my own expectations, yet I keep on with it. Nothing destroys my belief in the revolutionary compassion shared and taught by Jesus, his radical acts of love flowing from the eternal, powerful knowledge and grace of the ever creative, universal God. And every day I am brought closer to the certainty that nature compels us because it reflects God’s intricate and astounding work in this world and those beyond–and that it is a gift to us, to learn and cherish.

Can I even talk about this in public? I just did.

Do I have to check one box or the other? Already have checked both.

Can I try to understand other faiths, respect other kinds of believers? I can. Somehow I also believe we are all entwined in the ultimate sense.

Is it likely we become more committed to beliefs by being taught from the beginning their value? But then by way or trial and error, recurrent discouragement and hope, human fear and spiritual-religious transformation, the resilience of our souls?

Yes, and more than that, God never moves apart from us. What our earthly eyes see is only part of this story. We need to better see with our spirits. May I live and move within God’s welcoming presence and vast designs of life, now and always.

Blessings to all who seek God, and may the seeking bring more unity and charity.

Wednesday’s Word/Nonfiction: An Unexpected Summer Crush

I fell in love today with a stranger. I don’t have a clue where this one came from or the life history. I’m not sure why I looked over my balcony railing and there appeared a gorgeous vision that captivated me at once. But sometimes these things happen even to me, an older woman well over the rocky pinnacles and swampy lows of random, entrancing romance quite some time ago. I don’t go looking about. But this experience occurred, anyway. That is, the creature looked up when I let a sigh escape. The noble head raised and ice-water blue eyes flicked to mine–then resumed studying the treed, ivy-strewn slope, engaged by more interesting happenings than a human gazing downward. I was more than happily surprised by my new neighbor, a Siberian husky. My favorite dog in the world, more or less.

There is at least one human who moved in with the dog. In fact, she strode out once to check on him/her and then disappeared. And when I got my camera out–I had to shoot a quick one for my kids, who understand these things about their mother. But I forgot that it was still on the timer mode, so it beeped and beeped then took multiple pictures, beep beep beep beep click click click click. ( I must turn off that shutter noise, too!) Of course, the dog finally looked up again and I heard the woman come out. A bit panicked, I stepped back from my balcony’s edge. I didn’t know if I should give a shout out or not… This will likely not endear me to the new woman–somebody taking furtive pictures of her canine companion.

I wasn’t even wondering about a new resident this morning. I was reading, then looking about the trees, sitting at the table. Then got up, stood at the balcony railing and had a casual glance downward.

Now I really only think of her dog. It was taken inside or it was hungry or bored. When will it be let out again?

The small apartment below us has been empty a couple of weeks. I have heard the trucks and the hammering and whirring, sometimes smelled their supplies’ signature odors (one of which about knocked us over as they repainted a tub just below our first floor bathroom). The workers have about renovated the entire thing but I half-expected it to go on, like blurred background noise on the radio or television of an old neighbor to the north of us. I didn’t give one thought to a new neighbor. The last tenant lived there a couple of years, recently moved to Arizona, per another neighbor. She was very young and usually gone; I waved if we crossed paths. (As it is with most people here: we’re at work indoors or went back to the office or are again avoiding contact due to the pandemic’s unpredictable, unsafe trajectory.) I live in my own world, I suppose, too–frequent family engagements, I write or read a great deal, take daily hikes or walks, make a bit of art and do lots of photography, listen to music, do random things like a crossword puzzle or writing real letters. And always the usual tedious household business. Oh, I have a husband. So I am fairly busy.

Others appear to be, as well. But I do see them get out with their dogs, some urging them to finish their business, some leisurely walking and enjoying their company. Oregon is a big dog place and Portland may have more dogs than people, a joke but perhaps not really. To know your neighbors is to know their dogs–sometimes the latter first and better. One of the few people I know by name (besides one across the front entryway who sneaks in and out with few words; another who never acknowledges people and walks his dog like they’re both training for a marathon) is quite a bit older and very interesting. She has given me glimpses of her smart, energetic personality topped by a good if subdued sense of humor, talk laced with a slightly cynical view. She has had several different professional lives that intrigue, moved from California (as many do). She has marvelous skin and gleaming white hair. That’s it-what I know now. She’s not very open so we briefly catch up–though I shared that our granddaughter passed away as she happened to catch me in shock and tearful; a few weeks later she told me she was looking forward to sharing old photos with her own granddaughter when she visited and that was okay– when she walks her Pomeranian, Cocoa. Cocoa likes me fine and vice versa. The way they are together, I suspect they will be warmly connected until the end.

Anyway, here we are generally congenial, sociable strangers. A wave and a smile, an inquiry occasionally. So–another person gone, another moving in, that’s all. It’s not cheap to live here and people leave in summer; some of us stay a long while. And some have dogs that I hear and pleasantly note as I live my life amid mountains, hills, trees and water; stories; Stravinsky with dashes of Marian McPartland and her jazz piano. FedEx deliveries too often for my own good. Just lessen that hammering and shut off the leaf blowers, it’s summer! Then the movers come and it’s a new person with another dog below. Will it bark or be cool and calm as when it glanced up at me, unperturbed by a lowly human being?

I just got up to look over the balcony edge once more. The gorgeous animal is still not laying there. Maybe tonight we’ll both be listening to crickets in twilight. Will he/she know I am up here? Will I peek down to seek at its furry outline? Will it be agitated if I make noise? I often sit outside at night, listening, watching, smelling the night air. Marc is to bed early as a working man still, so it is moon and stars and me and any “singers” beyond.

It might help to explain my fascination with dogs if I tell you I didn’t grow up around them or other animals. Well, the cats. My older sister had a penchant for cats, had a small number. I was under age ten and had only the right to watch her play with them and occasionally pet them. I was surprised we had any. My mother didn’t like animals in the house–she grew up on a farm so four legged and other nonhuman creatures belonged outdoors, perfectly fine in the wilds of nature–otherwise, they had to work for their food. (She was interested in insects and birds, however– outside.)

Cats lived outside and were great mousers, was what she said. Thus, when the first ones arrived I knew my sister Allanya was the favored one, as she got what was forbidden.–I mainly recall her cats died a lot–we lived on a busy street–but she’d get another one until it was hit on the road, too.. Her abundantly loud weeping got me; I couldn’t comfort her adequately. I liked her cats but they were hers so did not cry much. When she left for Michigan State University, no more cats. But I must have pleaded for my turn as I got two goldfish; they swam happily but too briefly in a bowl with a floor of colored stones, a perfect tiny castle and a couple of seashells. I loved decorating but overfed them. I got two blue bright parakeets who likely didn’t like being in a cage–they died in a couple months. I didn’t appreciate cleaning the cage so was not that dismayed. After that, I was done. I left the care of animals to others.

But what of dogs? It wasn’t even a topic that came up. No one secretly professed a desire for a dog. My father certainly never had interest in pets, and no time. He was home an hour or two, then gone most days of his long and productive career. Mom simply created time for things other than daily work, in or out of the house. But she decreed there would be no more pets, not even one camping in the back yard (a turtle, it died, too). As she noted, we had a yard full of nature’s critters. I loved the ants that had little sandy hill homes; they scurried back and forth along our walkway out back. I studied their industrious goings-on for long periods. The slinky worms that magically rose from the ground when it rained hard. Graceful butterflies and chorusing, chattering birds that alighted all around. But as for pets–I had access to various sorts at friends’ houses, and was fascinated by the dogs and cats, hamsters, a horse, a couple of canaries, a snake, an iguana and salamander and so on. Those dogs would often be in the middle of the fray, racing, leaping, romping along with us, and also interfering.

But my favorites were at Julie’s house: huskies.

Julie was one of my best friends and lived on my street several blocks down; she went to Eastlawn Elementary as did I. I believe she also went to the Methodist Chinch and it would be natural we’d become friendly there, too. We didn’t share studying classical music but she liked to read as much as I did. We didn’t have in common a passion for ice skating, swimming or foot races; she had polio as a baby so walked rather slowly with crutches that clamped around her forearms. I found it curious, perhaps sad but irrelevant to our easy play and good talks. No doubt we enjoyed playing with dolls, made up scenarios for them, and played board games and hung out on the front and back porches. She was a smart one, warm hearted, readily amused. I can still see her standing in her yard, crutches just an extension of her arms and legs in a way, very useful–short strawberry blond hair tossed back as she laughed at something silly.

But perhaps another reason we got on was that her parents had huskies. And I came to adore them. I believe they bred, trained and sold them; there were always a couple around and new puppies from time to time. The house was big but every room seemed defined by the presence of a big dog, its fur and toys.

They were playful, yes, but seriously trained in obedient behaviors. If one jumped up on me–and I felt it like a wooly body slam with often muddy paws–there was a strict command and correction issued by Julie or her parents. But I was not fearful of them, and they were not suspicious of me. Their dogs sat with big feet planted and head at ease as I petted and hugged them a bit, and got a drippy lick on the chin in response, those blue eyes bright and perceptive. Their size and the dense coats and captivating eyes and intelligence–everything about them grabbed my attention. I had never been around dogs so big, fast and agile, smart and good natured–yet also capable of peacefulness. I knew they got out of hand, at times and witnessed antics wherein objects, especially shoes and purses, were but sad, chewed remains. And I heard they loved to chase down cats…not good.

It was efficacious that Julie’s house was large, the yards larger and fenced. And that they were gentle with her, as she moved with an awkward gait, clutching her crutches, from space to space. A few times I watched a husky pull Julie in a wagon or on a sled in winter–they were sure footed, enthusiastic, strong.

When they moved to another city, huskies and all, I felt the losses keenly. Whenever I thought of Julie, I thought of her warmth, good cheer, our easy friendship. And those luxurious Siberian huskies that could knock me over–did a few times–but always welcomed me. I wondered if they had been meant to protect her, too. Because they did, being always at her side or nearby, ready to come to her.

It occurs for the first time as I write that this may be when I fell in love with huskies. As a kid on Ashman Street, playing at Julie’s house. How could I not have seen it?

I always stop when I see one, openly stare. Pat and talk to one if allowed. Their power and grace in motion, peaceful alertness at rest: these are premium four-legged creatures. Proud, dignified and very playful. They work hard, especially in North country in winter as they pull their massive sleds with cargo and driver across frozen land for many miles. Heroic, that’s how they seem to me. Maybe, too, because they likely did look after Julie and she did, them, in all the ways she could.

Since I do admire dogs, in general, I think of getting one, but there are reasons why I have not for many years invited any to stay forever. It has to do with loss, in part, and also with practical circumstances. I feel dogs are healthier and happier in roomy houses and outdoors, in yards, like children–and I don’t know that I’ll ever have a house again. But maybe that is not altogether true; perhaps they can be happy in smaller spaces and on leashed walks, after all. Still, I worry that as I get older my health matters may someday interfere with caring well for a beloved dog. I read about the different breeds. recall ones met and liked out there. I enjoy them from afar–and can play with a friend’s dog when I see them.

In the meantime, there is the new four-legged neighbor. I wonder if it is a male of female, what the name is, how it behaves, who takes care of its needs and wants. I will have to content myself with a small yearning to know this new creature from my balcony. It will be hard to not give it a shout out and a big wave, or to go knock on the new person’s door so I can get a closer look.

“Welcome to our lovely neighborhood–and, oh my, you have a husky!”

She might hopefully offer a smile–but then step back and say,”Hey, wait–were you taking pictures of my dog when I moved in?”

“Ah…guilty, so sorry…You see, I had a special friend as a kid and she had beautiful huskies…”

I need to be patient, time things right so she knows I am friendly toward dogs and also decidedly not a dog nabber. A distant adoration of her Siberian husky will just have to do for now. Then I might suggest she walk the area’s miles of trails with me sometimes–with her dog, of course. My secret doggy crush will come to light soon.

Wednesday’s Word/Nonfiction: Loving and Learning to Live with Cars

Before you get too excited, this post is not about classic cars though I admire them greatly. I visit the local Matthews Memory Lane, a vintage car business, about once a year with my brother, sister-in-law, and sister, who also feel as I do about fine vehicles. I would not mind snagging one of these shining works of design and function if I could afford such a car for sheer fun.

It is about a short history of my cars, and their untimely demises.

But I really wanted to post a video of my 2 year old granddaughter to demonstrate an early fascination with them. At the park there was an abandoned toddler-type toy that nabbed her attention. She pushed the somewhat-lame, plastic red and yellow child-sized car way down a bumpy, narrow gravel pathway. She got in it once, but it was useless on gravel with a bum wheel. Plus, she was a bit too big for it and it went too slowly for her taste.

So, she climbed out, got behind it and shoved and pushed it all the way to the end–then turned it around–no help, Grandma, she batted my hand away–and pushed it back the other direction, one hand holding onto the car, the other partly on steering wheel. When it veered off the pathway (it was often as it drove badly), she stopped to straighten it up, then got right back to work pushing, guiding it along.

“That’s the spirit, Alera, keep those wheels a-rolling!” I shouted, clapping at her success.

She grinned, kept on. She displayed such curiosity and an attentive, pleased attitude required to become a true car appreciator. The mechanics of the thing were a magnet as she tried to help it perform better. What a marvelous time she had. I had to tear her away from it.

Oh dear, another one in the family…a natural car nut. Where will the car loving, the mechanically inclined/engineering instincts take her one day?

I love cars enough to stop and walk around an interesting or sporty vehicle along the side of a road, then take numerous pictures. I ogle them at stop lights and parking lots. I go to car shows. I try to name cars running on the street from a distance by simple recognition of body style, the distinguishing features that differentiate it from another nameplate with the same or a similar platform. I am pulled in by sensory input of its design, curiosity of what is inside and what it can do, and the imagined scenario of getting in, firing her up, and taking off for a long drive, the power of the engine carrying me to another destination, another state of mind… Car passion. What a wild invention!–Even now, when we worry about emissions and efficiency and safety matters far more than we once did, there is this magnetic attraction..

I have respect for cars, how they intricately work for us, not just for how they look. I have long enjoyed driving, especially on lazy country roads where I can feel the car almost slink down and adhere to curves and take on hills and ease on down to flatter land once more when the gas pedal depresses and we fly together…. (Full disclosure: I fantasized about becoming a race car driver for a short time and like to watch races.) But routine errands as well as trips are also good. It’s relaxing, mostly; I scan the fleeting closer-to-ground views of people and the higher places. Turn on tunes and it can be even sweeter. Riding the roads over mountains, to the sea. Freedom’s bliss, and I am in control. Or so I think.

Well, maybe not so much in city traffic at rush hour. When living in the Detroit area I assiduously avoided freeways even when it took longer. It was like playing chicken; you had to drive 15-20 mph hour over the limit and stake your claim to all your space. Each time you took a car on the road it was a gamble. I don’t miss that; when we moved here, traffic congestion was mild to manageable, and the drivers were so laid back and polite it could be confusing, at times frustrating. Not so much anymore. Marc and I occasionally still say, “Time to get my Detroit on!”–which in our case means being clearly assertive when moving from point A to B successfully. Not preferred, and so I still seek innovative side street directions.

But I still appreciate driving experiences, overall. Even after being in too many car crashes, and truly missing all my lost personal vehicles. Yes, always mine, despite the accidents not being my fault…And I have had only one traffic ticket in my entire life so it’s not as if I am not careful.

My basic car romance started early with my father’s fascination with small foreign cars but also any regular sedan. Although a classical musician/teacher/conductor, he loved to tinker with most anything, especially cars–and motorbikes and bikes. He seemed to have a knack for fixing things, knew his way around things mechanical and made of mysterious parts, a talent I found magical. As a kid, I’d tag along on a Saturday afternoon, studying him as he about-disappeared under the hood of the current vehicle. I stood on tiptoe to see what he was doing in there. And ran for tools and whatever else he wanted, then handed them to him as requested, a very important part of his work, I felt. And riding in a tiny, front-opening Isetta– or even a Fiat– was a blast–even with sputters and trouble starting as much as it revved up and went.

I’d also while away time on our porch watching cars zip or meander down busy Ashman Street, learning the distinctive shapes of cars at an early age. Soon I could name the makes, models and years of increasing numbers of vehicles. If my older sister sat with me, we’d make it a competition to see who named more.

Whatever my teenaged dates drove to pick me up just fascinated me, whether a dented but sturdy GM truck or a flashy new Mercedes with leather seats; a sporty green Triumph Spider or a chugalug black VW Beetle. Let me admire it, settle in and away we go! My favorite was the turquoise 1964 Mustang that a boyfriend drove. Once we drove all the way from Midland in mid-Michigan to Detroit on the freeway and I was ecstatic, the wind blowing my hair about, his driving quite good, the beautiful car taking us far away. I may have fallen in love with the Mustang as much as with him…

I didn’t get my own car as many friends did in high school, but I enjoyed every one they had, and looked forward to the one day I’d have the pleasure of driving my very own, not just my parents’, and rarely. Yet I didn’t get a driver’s license until age 19–I saw no use for it when I got rides, just biked or walked. I didn’t possess a car–there was a truck in our lives when I married, which was fine though I got to drive it very little–until age 24. That, too, was shared with my first husband: an Opel Kadett, brand new and powder blue.

And that’s just when the trouble started. The accidents, the lost cars. It isn’t a tale of fancy or fast cars, but of cars that served me well and that I felt attached to–yes, enough to name a few. You might think I am a poor driver, but that wasn’t the case. I was a fine driver and still th8ink I do well. No, it was always an event beyond my control that happened to the car and anyone inside it– most often, me.

A note: I admire all kinds of vehicles, and require just a basic mode of transportation. I have never owned or wanted to own a really fancy car. I may stare at your Maserati, lust over the vintage turquoise Thunderbird, even secretly pine for a red Mazda RX-9 but really, I want something reliable, comfy and pleasing for daily use.

Accident #1: Driving along a quiet Michigan secondary road to a college class one dusky summer’s eve, I breathed in warm fragrances, admired very tall corn in fields lining the road. Suddenly out of nowhere (a simplistic definition of accident), came a car plowing into me (it was a preacher, full of remorse). He had missed a stop sign at a crossroads, but I knew nothing. I lost consciousness and came to looking down at my body in the speeding ambulance, wondering why I was lying there so still. I knew it had been “close”; I heard the EMTs say so. Our pretty new Opel Kadett was totaled. I had bleeding gashes and a concussion. Whiplash caused significant neck and head pain. I still have neck problems. I still have scars on my forehead–and scar tissue affects how aging skin lays above my eyebrow –and my right knee, as well as that knee gaining a slight weakness. Using crutches for weeks was not easy with a new baby at home. And I no longer drove much for a year. We didn’t replace that car–there was the truck. The scar with pale horizontal stitches is visible about 50 years later; no one remarks on it. But that knee gets crunchy and sore–in fact, has been more so since the last accident though there is nothing to see there–but that old wrinkly scar.

Accident #2: The metallic bronze Buick Century with buff leather seats was driven by one of our teen-aged daughters. She was crashed into while out and about one night. Someone hit her hard as she was joining the traffic flow on a main street in Rochester, MI. Totaled it. She was, thankfully, alright. She did not drive our cars a long time afterwards.

To replace that one was a new Saturn sedan and it lasted about 10 years, a good and dependable car–and was it never in an accident other than a bump or two at parking lots!

To take its place– when the AC didn’t keep working and it burned some oil–was a new Buick Sunfire. It was my son’s initially, but I quickly took it over when he lost a job.

Accident #3: The car of my dreams! My white jazzy Pontiac Sunfire was driven for 12 years. It still ran like a charm. I was looking forward to several more years with it. I loved its sporty lines, fuel efficiency, how it purred just a bit. Another daughter was driving this one on a busier Portland street. As a car merged from a turn, it ran into her and…it was totaled. Daughter walked away intact. I felt quite sad. They don’t even make this car, anymore. I called it Sunny-it always cheered me driving it.

Accident #4: The metallic blue Hyundai Elantra I purchased after the Sunfire was, like most of my cars, purchased for fuel efficiency, excellent safety record, and a quite moderate price. It served me very well, and as with all cars I pay off and keep driving, I liked it more each year and soon gave it the name of Bluebird. I had it so long–12 years– I thought it’d be my last as it had not once been in a shop for repairs. But it was– of course it was– totaled in a crash. I was on my way to ick up a grandson for Thanksgiving in November, 2019. I was tired and had a headache so perhaps I failed to think as fast as I would have otherwise. I made a U-turn and an SUV sped off a highway exit ramp underneath an overpass– and I didn’t see it coming soon enough. The policewoman said we were both at fault and, oddly, did not give tickets to either of us. Perhaps because it was Thanksgiving… Both grandson and I were okay enough, though I suffered a mild concussion and significant whiplash that left my long ago damaged neck in pain for weeks.

I was sorry to say goodbye to my Elantra. So I got a second one.

Accident #5: A trip to the beach for my husband’s birthday gift–as is usual–last week end ended up being a bust. The first day and a half were wonderful in and around Yachats, OR. But it ended fast as we returned to our lodgings following a hike above the ocean. From behind a passing vehicle passed one car and then barreled into my white metallic Hyundai Elantra (the “Dove”) just as we began a turn. After the sickeningly powerful impact on the driver’s side where my husband sat, we heard screams and crying beyond. He and I were very still, Marc saying, “What happened? What happened?” The double air bags had deployed against the left side of his face; he had trouble hearing, his face burned. I could barely breathe. I unclipped my seat belt. My chest and ribs hurt badly, my neck…I thought I was having a dreaded heart attack.

We both were taken by ambulance to a city 30 minutes way, as well as passengers of the passing van that hit us then flipped and landed upside down in a ditch. Six hours of CT-scans, X-rays, blood and urine tests, and then good news: no heart attack (the seat belt must have pressed very hard against me…); no ruined eardrum for Marc; no significant concussions, so we were released. Apparently the other people were, too. I never saw them. But when I understood they had fared okay, I wept. It was an astonishing occurrence that we all walked out of that hospital ER.

The good managers of the cottages where we stayed drove at 11:30 pm to pick us up, as we had no way to get back. We had one more night at our place. They brought us blankets, water, pillows for the ride back. We also were allowed to wait at another empty cottage the following afternoon until our youngest daughter drove over three hours to get us. The managers offered calm words and acts of generosity–their kindness will not be forgotten.

We stopped to find my car at an impound lot that was more a junk yard, or a cemetery of ruined, dead cars. It was not a pretty sight but we took pictures, cleaned it out, got more information from the owner.

I am in need of a new car now. I barely can ponder it after four days. Still, my mind is clearer and sleep better than it was in 2019 after the last accident. Well, soreness increases but mentally I seem less traumatized. Saddened. Weary of our various troubles over the last year and a half and now this. But if truth be told–why not us? Things happen all the time to others that are worse. I count the ways we’ve overcome, celebrated any new ray of light. We were spared this time. I feel especially fortunate once again.

Perhaps I am more at ease because I wasn’t the driver, a position which often carries with it regrets, anger, self-doubt and attendant anxiety. Marc has never been in a high speed car accident as I have, and understands now that it impacts all systems, not just visible flesh. And soon arrives random teariness, shakiness; flashbacks, sleeplessness. It takes time, patience, support and medical aid to recover well from inside out.

My love and respect for the attractive, innovative four-wheeled machines that carry us from one place to another has not decreased. However, I’ve wondered if I might just walk most places from our home as I am a veteran walker, anyway. Or get a bike. But we live in a landscape that is informed by steep hills, not a flat grid. I’m perhaps not as energetic or strong as I was at forty so it would require training for me to take a bike to these roads. The last few years I’ve longed for a moped, a zippy scooter. I sometimes ride one of my son’s down his quiet road, what a blast that is. (I once rode motorcycles, what a treat.) Perhaps a sunny yellow Vespa for this older woman’s forays into the wider world? But my husband declines to support this desire, convinced I would be at risk of another debacle, sad to say. He would have me drive a Hummer or, more to the point, a Humvee.

He may be right. The traffic has continued to worsen in Portland metro. And there are frankly a tremendous number of cyclists on the road, as well. It can be a task to doge them safely, as well, amid all the honking and lane crossings. Twenty first century hurdles. I may be better off on foot, on sidewalks. Or taking a bus or train–the train is especially useful here but not a pleasure in a pandemic.

In any case, we will get over this and go on. And be more alert, driving ever more defensively. The reality is, though, that accidents simply happen, random events that alter, damage or even end a life. In my case, the damage has been such that it can be lived with and worked with over time. We well eluded death’s snare…so thankfully.

But just now came a phone call from the car rental agency. My car is available tonight and for the next month if needed. And it’s a new Mustang convertible. Can you believe it? I’m all in!

Hold on, I may want this one–a car that is forever cheery!