I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Looking for silver linings

Big old golden tree
Those of you who read my other blog might have read the post I wrote this past Friday, about the discovery I made when I went to see the retina specialist. I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to get the cataract surgery I've been both looking forward to and dreading, scheduled for the end of November. I've been having quite a bit of visual disturbance, flashing lights and blurred vision, especially in my left eye. When I had my eyes checked recently, hoping for a correction to my lenses, I found that cataract surgery would be necessary to improve my vision. But it's not so simple: yes, I can have the cataract surgery, but it's not going to make my vision perfect, by any means.

I learned on Friday that my AMD (age-related macular degeneration) took a pretty dramatic downturn during the past year. The small hole I had in the left macula is now three times as big as it was last year, and cataract removal isn't going to fix it. The doctors don't know why it began to get worse so quickly, because I have the "dry" form, which usually progresses slowly. There's no cure for it. If I had the "wet" form, which means blood vessels are forming in the back of the eye, they could at least treat it. But so far, the vision loss I have is not right in the center of my vision, but a little off to the side and down. That will progress eventually, but for now, I've got 20/30 vision in both eyes.

For those of you who know little about AMD, here's a link to learn more. If you read about it, the series of three pictures of what AMD looks like will give you an idea of what I'm seeing right now. my vision is similar to the middle picture, but the blurred area is to the left of center. My hope is that the cataract surgery will brighten things up a bit, at least. I'm actually growing more comfortable with the fact that my life is not over even if it progresses to the extent in the third picture. One is considered legally blind if your eyesight reaches 20/200. I've got a ways to go.

Okay, now that I've got all that background information out of the way, I'm busy looking for the silver lining in all this. In just a couple of days, I've managed to pass through the first stages of grief and sadness. Of course, I already knew I had AMD, but I didn't have any obvious symptoms and knew I was under the care of some good doctors. There are advances being made with stem cell research, and clinical trials are under way. Who knows what might be discovered in the next few years? I will be watching and reading with interest.

In the meantime, I'll avail myself of low vision aids when necessary, mostly magnifying text so that one can read using peripheral vision. Since right now my central vision is mostly okay, I won't need to do that, just enlarge the text on my devices if necessary to read comfortably. You know, we all lose acuity in many areas (such as vision and thought) as we age, and this is not something as bad as a cancer diagnosis. By the way, my friend Ronni is coping quite well with her pancreatic cancer diagnosis and surgery over the last few months and is now dealing with chemo in a very positive way. You can read about her struggle to regain normal life on her blog here. So if I look at my own predicament through her eyes, I feel very fortunate indeed.
Look at the sparrows; they do not know what they will do in the next moment. Let us literally live from moment to moment. (Mahatma Gandhi)
Yes, it's my ability to think ahead to a dark future that is what bothers me this morning. Right now, this very moment, is pretty darn good. And yesterday, 26 of us ladies gathered to walk in the gorgeous sunlight together, in the crisp cool air of autumn. My knees are in the best shape I remember for many years, and I could walk briskly, if not in the front with the fastest walkers, at least I was in the middle of the pack, feeling the blood pump through my veins as I huffed and puffed with my dear friend Lily by my side. I have already had more love and good fortune in my life than most, so why should I feel depressed?

The only thing the doctor suggested I change in my everyday life right now is to get those over-the-glasses dark wraparound eye coverings so that the amount of sunlight that reaches my eyes is limited. I'm already taking all the supplements and doing everything else that might help, such as eating right and taking fish oil and whatnot. I had a pair of those from long ago, so I dug them out and wore them yesterday in the bright sunlight. Although I have transition lenses and have used them for a long time, they don't work in the car or through other glass, and light leaks around the sides of my glasses as well. It's not known for sure whether or not bright sunlight exacerbates AMD, but it doesn't hurt to try to slow down the progression.

As I grow older, I realize that contentment comes from within and is not predicated on one's situation. In researching all my options about AMD, I learned that Judi Dench suffers from it and is seven years older than me. She still makes movies and copes with her loss of vision with grace. I saw her in her latest movie last week, Victoria and Abdul, and she is delightful in it. The movie could have been better, but she was magnificent as Queen Victoria. As she has said in many interviews, AMD is something you get accustomed to, just like anything else. Everyone approaches adversity in different ways, and I am determined to make the most of every single day I am here on this wonderful planet.

So now you know what's been on my mind this past week, and where I am at this very moment, sitting in the dark with my sleeping partner next to me. There are very few people who are more blessed than I am, with friends and family near and far. The silver lining I see (and will always see) in the loss of my central vision, is that I will always be able to enjoy the feel of the wind in my hair, a walk in the rain, birdsong and love.
“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind,
And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.” 

― William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream
And so, dear friends, I will leave you with that quote from Shakespeare as I begin my brand-new day with joy and happiness. Please remember to be grateful for all that you have, whether it's exactly what you thought you wanted or not. I will spend this next week doing just that. Be well until we meet again next week.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Gratitude Sunday

Empty picnic tables at Samish Overlook
I took this picture last Thursday when we started our usual hike at an unusual place (for us). Usually going up to Oyster Dome we begin from the much harder and longer road. This time, we drove most of the elevation gain and were able to make the hike longer or shorter, depending on the weather conditions. Fortunately for us, it was wet now and then but mostly just overcast and cool. We were all prepared with appropriate rain gear, so it ended up being more than seven miles, not too bad at all.

Today I could have a post filled with lamentations and upset, but I had a long conversation with myself last night once I went to bed and waited for sleep to come. A few weeks ago, I wrote about concentrating on things to be grateful for, rather than focusing on all that is wrong with the world. Especially my own little world. So that's what I'm going to do: I'll tell you about what's happening, but from a positive perspective. It's always possible to look on the bright side, and I sure do have plenty to be grateful for.

My eyes. Ever since I went to the eye doctor to get a new prescription to allow myself to see better out of my left eye and discovered that I am in need of cataract surgery, it's been on my mind. People don't just take it for granted when your eye is going to be cut into, but everything I've learned is that it's so commonplace that most people have no adverse effects and wish they had done it earlier. I suffer from AMD (age-related macular degeneration) and so they warned me that my vision would not be perfect after the surgery.

Then a month or so ago, I began to see little flashes of light, always in the same place, a short little burst of vibration that came and went so quickly I could ignore it. It's gotten worse in the last short while, so I called my retina specialist to see if I should come in before my checkup next month. The receptionist reassured me that it's a normal part of aging, but after doing some online research, I called them back again yesterday and left a voice mail to see if I can get in sooner. Although I wasn't looking forward to the cataract surgery, now I'm afraid that I might have to postpone it while other procedures are done on my eye. If you have symptoms like I do, you might want to read up about it here.

I am incredibly grateful to have a retina specialist that I've been seeing for a few years now, and he will be able to tell me what's going on. Being able to see is important to carry out all that I love to do. If I had been born a century ago, I would have simply gone blind and that would be that. I'll keep you apprised of the situation during what I'm beginning to think of as my "season of eyes."

Basic necessities. This is something I take for granted; it's been ages since I've been miserably cold and wet, unless it was on a hike and a situation I chose to be in. There are many people around the world, more all the time, who don't have basic necessities, like food to eat, clean water to drink, and a roof over their heads. Last night, while I listened to the rain fall outside in the dark, I nestled into my warm bed and allowed gratitude to wash over me for the gift of abundance. I truly wish it were possible for everyone everywhere to have what I take for granted. At the very least, I can allow myself gratitude for my good fortune.

Sound body and mind. Anyone who reads my blog knows how important exercise is to me. I am incredibly grateful for a healthy body that allows me to run and jump and play outdoors. Even though I am a septuagenarian and have slowed down considerably from earlier years, I am able to exult in my good health and use the muscles I've got to stride through my days, rather than shuffle carefully from place to place. For the past few years my yoga practice has helped me to stretch and strengthen in ways I thought were behind me. My knees are in better shape than they were a year ago. Right now, I have no pain when traveling up or down steep hills. I thought my future would be all declining health, but it seems I was mistaken.

I had such a good time on Vashon Island, and I learned that my ability to write down my thoughts is growing, rather than shrinking. I just finished Ann Lamott's book Bird by Bird, and I am enthusiastic about developing my own unique voice for the next season of writing. This blog also allows me to stretch myself into new pathways. This wonderful venue allows me to be grateful for a well functioning mind. To know that a new world of creative writing is available to me, well, how can I not be grateful for that?

Friendship. Now that is a big topic, but one that makes a huge difference in my life. As I sit here in the dark with my laptop casting a dim light around the room, my partner asleep next to me, it is such a comfort just to share my life with such a good person. The coffee shop that beckons me is filled with familiar people whom I care deeply about. It's so wonderful to walk into the Y and see familiar faces and be greeted with smiles as I chat with my fellow exercise junkies about their lives. Many are acquaintances who might develop into friends outside of the gym. That's how I met my friend Judy years ago: in an exercise class, and we went out for coffee afterwards. The beginning of a deep friendship. Today we'll meet at the local independent theater to watch a documentary together. I am thankful for the friendships I've developed since moving to the Pacific Northwest nine years ago.

Technology. Although technology allows me to be grateful for it all the time, it's become so pervasive that I must step back and take a look at how much it's changed the way we do things. This past week I spoke for a couple of hours with my sister on FaceTime, laughing and sharing with each other in ways that were impossible just a few decades ago. I carry my smartphone with me all the time, not only to count my steps, but also to help me to stay connected to the wider world. In my pocket, I have a device that contains the world's entire store of knowledge, a conduit to the latest news, a quick check of the weather conditions to come, a place to keep a grocery list at my fingertips, and much, much more. Wow! How can one not be grateful for all that? Of course, it's not without some drawbacks. I try not to become one of those people I see on the bus who don't look up from their phones for the entire journey. It's important to enjoy the present moment.

Well, that's five bits for my Gratitude Sunday. I could go on and on, but you get the gist. Every single one of those items would be enough for any one of us to expand upon in our own lives for many more paragraphs, but it's time for me to wrap this up for today. Hopefully there will be many more Gratitude Sundays in our lives for us to appreciate. I hope you will find your own gratitude with your loved ones, and I leave you with Mary Oliver, once again.
When it's over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
Until next week, be well, my dear friends.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Reflections on life

Flaming trees and me
Yesterday on the walk with the ladies, we saw this beautiful tree, which was even more beautiful than the picture shows. I had walked up to see if I could see where the other ladies had gone, as we were all in the back of the group, snapping pictures and taking our time. When I saw that the others were waiting for us, we hurried to join them. It was a lovely morning and, as I've said often, a wonderful way to begin the weekend.

Some of the ladies are still working, but it's been almost a decade since I retired and moved to this part of the country. Had I remained in Colorado, I can see what my life would have looked like through my Facebook friends who still live in Colorado, and it's beautiful pretty much everywhere right now, except of course in California, where the fires rage on. The natural disasters that have been occurring on a regular basis now are truly difficult for me to wrap my head around. Has it always been like this and I'm just paying more attention right now? Or is it the constant drip, drip, drip of catastrophes that are wearing me down?

I consider myself a native Californian, since I was born there and spent many years of my life in the Fairfield area. My dad was stationed at Travis Air Force Base, which I just now discovered after checking out the website for the town of Fairfield, is its largest employer. He went through training to become a navigator on air refueling jets while there, and we spent more years at that place in California than many places he was stationed at afterwards. I think of it as my childhood home, although we moved often, even back then.

We were there when the B-29 crash happened that killed nineteen people. I found on Wikipedia that it happened in August 1950, when I would have been seven years old. I slept right through it, and it must have made a tremendous sound, since a huge crater was created from it. I found this on that website:
About 20 minutes after the crash, the high explosives in the bomb detonated, spreading wreckage and burning fuel over a 2-square-mile (5.2 km2) area. The explosion blew a crater in the ground 20 yards (18 m) across and 6 feet (1.8 m) deep. ... Only in 1994 was it revealed that an atomic bomb was involved, when an interview with Holsey was published posthumously. The Mark 4 nuclear bomb contained a depleted uranium tamper as well as radioactive material inside the electronics making up the arming and firing circuits.
 Yikes! Needless to say, it could have been much, much worse. The air base was renamed after General Travis, who died on the plane. That link is fascinating, to me at least, to find out exactly what happened when I was a child. I do remember my parents asking me when I woke that morning if I was all right. Another one of those memories that must have remained because of the emotions generated through fear and anxiety, even though they were not my own emotions. I must have realized how bad it was for them to be so worried. Who knows? My sister Norma Jean was only five, but I suspect she remembers the details better than I do; she always does.

Although Fairfield is not on evacuation orders right now, it's on high alert, as the fires continue to burn in the entire area. As of this morning, 41 people in northern California are confirmed dead, and more than 5,700 buildings are gone. Most of them were homes, and I suspect that the death toll will climb. It's heartbreaking to imagine what those who survived are going through right now. I have stopped reading articles and news flashes about the fires, because it's not doing me any good at all to sit in front of the TV and weep.

My memories of Fairfield are almost all very positive ones. I started school there, and I still remember a few childhood playmates. A few years ago I wrote a post that included a picture of an elementary school class. So many of those young children are still present in my memories, although I cannot recall the name of even one of them. I wonder where they are today, if they are still alive. I realize that when one reaches the venerable age of 75 that many who started the journey with you are no longer around. But I still am, and my sister is, too. Somehow we became elderly while we weren't paying attention.

Some of my blogging friends grew up their entires lives in one place, and they remember much more of their childhood than I do, since we were constantly picking up and moving on. Fairfield, however, holds a very special place in my mind and heart. I don't think I would like to return there, since nothing would be familiar any more. As an adult, I lived for many years in Sacramento and worked for the Department of Education. I could probably return there and discover many places that are the same, but even so, I don't think I will return for a trip through Memory Lane. They exist in much more detail and more perfectly in the memories I carry inside my heart.

In a few weeks, we'll have another time change, this one where we gain back the hour that was snipped from the morning hours so that we could have an extra hour of sunlight at the end of the day. This ridiculous activity will cause me some disruption as we return to Pacific Standard Time for four months before the whole thing starts over again. I think Arizona made the right choice; they don't change. I found this article on USA Today that explains why:
For a half century, Arizona — but not including the Navajo reservation — has refused to perform the standard-to-daylight-saving-and-back-again dance. In 1968, the state Legislature decided it was best for Arizona to opt out of the Uniform Time Act of 1966, which mandated the saving of daylight.
I wish we would all stay on one or the other. Once we return to standard time in early November, the sun will be setting before 5:00pm and those who work all day long will leave the office to get home in the dark. Sigh. It makes less and less sense to me as I get older. And I hear the grumblings of others about how much they dislike it, too, so I know I am not alone. But I'm not capable of changing it, so I suppose I should just stop complaining. I found it curious (in that article above) that the Navajo reservation observes DST. Must be interesting to go from one time zone to another if you live close to the reservation. Wonder if their smartphones keep up? Now that's worth a smile.

I have just traveled through many time zones in my head, and it's getting to be time to wrap up this post. It's still dark outside and will be for a bit longer, and I'll do my exercises and head to the coffee shop before too long. Partner sleeps quietly next to me, and the tea is long gone. My Sunday morning routine is back in full swing, and it feels really good to me. As a treat to myself on Friday, I bought the latest compilation of Mary Oliver's poems. She selected what she considered to be the best from her many years of work. I will leave you with one that brings me joy every single time I read it.
At Blackwater Pond the tossed waters have settled / After a night of rain. / I dip my cupped hands. I drink / a long time. It tastes / like stone, leaves, fire. It falls cold / into my body, waking the bones. I hear them / deep inside me, whispering, / oh what is that beautiful thing / that just happened?
May you find that water and drink of it yourself, dear reader. I am happy to be on this journey called life with you and all my dear friends and family. Be well until we meet again next week.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Sunday at Vashon

Potting shed at Lavender Farm
I arrived here on Wednesday afternoon, after a harrowing trip from Bellingham south through Seattle's awful traffic, with Siri as my only companion in the rented car I was driving. I couldn't have made it more than a few miles past Everett without my trusty phone talking to me. If only she knew how to make me calm down and stop gripping the steering wheel tightly every time a huge monster truck roared past. Eventually I made it to the ferry that would take me to Vashon Island and the others who were waiting for me to arrive on the island. And then the ordeal was over: I joined my familiar fellow writers for the beginning of our five-day writing retreat.

And already it's almost over. Our last full day before heading back to our respective homes, and I've been filled with many new avenues to pursue with my writing, although I've also been here before: ready to tackle whatever seems to be calling me, and then... nothing. Just falling back into the comfortable routine I've created for myself in Bellingham. Writing on my blogs, taking pictures, hiking with the Trailblazers on Thursdays, riding the bus to the Y for my daily workouts. And before long, only a slight sense of guilt remains about all those plans I had made to change things up.

This is our last year, in this format at least. We have shrunk over the five years from six to four, and although last year we resisted adding another person to our group, now it seems that we have accomplished all we set out to do as a group. We didn't start as a writing circle that first year, but met as fellow bloggers, who were approached by Linda, the person responsible for this happening. She researched online and found a place with six bedrooms that we could afford. And on Vashon Island, at that! Sally lives in Colorado, with a necessary plane trip to get here, and she was the first to drop out. Then this year Linda decided that she needed to make a change in her life, so she opted not to come either. For one thing, that meant I would have to drive myself here, as I had always carpooled with Linda from her home in Brier. Sandi and Deb live near each other (although in different towns) and have traveled here together every year. Jann lives in a small town in Oregon and has made the five-hour journey herself, except for the initial first year when she, Linda, and I carpooled together and picked up Sally at the airport on our way to the ferry.

As the years have passed, many of us have changed our ideas of what we want to do with our time here. We changed from three days to five, and instead of just gathering for the fun of it, we decided three years ago to have Deb, a facilitator trained in the Amherst Writers and Artists Method, direct our time together doing creative writing. One year, we invited Linda Reeder, who lives in Seattle, to spend an evening with us, and for that one time we were seven. It's been an interesting and rewarding journey.

I had never before experienced such a way of writing. All of it in longhand and not on our laptops, and being given a prompt by Deb, which we could use in whatever way we chose, for a set period of time, varying from five minutes to twenty. Then we shared our writing with the others and received positive feedback, what we liked, what worked for us, how we felt about the piece, always positive. It's a magical way to learn how to stretch one's writing muscles, I've found. Everything written is treated as though it is fiction, although many times we are writing about ourselves and our lives. I highly recommend this method and will, if nothing else, look for other ways to grow in my writing life.

That's what I've learned, but the most important lesson of all: who these wonderful women are, having laughed and cried together, and explored some of the most vulnerable corridors in our hearts and minds with one another. I will miss these October gatherings.

Learning to let go and let change come into my life, that's one of the hardest things I must allow myself to experience at this crossroad. I'm five years older now, but I see that the essence of who we are has not changed. Some of us have grown stronger in writing, and others have continued to develop already strong writing skills, but we have all grown closer to each other.

I'm the only one of us who continues to blog on a regular basis, and I have learned from them that there are plenty of other avenues for writing that I might explore. The desire to write fiction has emerged even stronger this year, and together we explored some avenues I might use to develop that desire further. I hope I do it, but I'm also learning that I cannot continue to "push the river" and must learn to allow life to shape me in its own way. We'll see where this all goes.

So, on this dark morning, without my partner, without my familiar surroundings, I feel happy to be here, but also happy to think about going home to my love and to my own life. I hope that this week will find you also happy to be carried along with the universal forces that guide us in ways we cannot even begin to understand. Be well until we meet again next week, dear readers.
Deb, Linda, me, Sally, Sandi, Jann
Five years ago

Sunday, October 1, 2017

October already

Boats in the bay
Yesterday when I woke to intense rain on the roof, I was afraid that we ladies would be walking in it, but it stopped by 7:00am and the skies began to clear. For most of the walk we had blue skies, but then it began to cloud up again, and by noon, it was raining. For the past couple of days, we've had intermittent clouds and rain, a sign that fall is definitely here. Thursday was our last summery day, I suspect.

It amazes me how quickly the weather changes. Thursday was sunny and hot; Friday and Saturday cooling a little each day, rain clearing the air, and then last night having the outside temperature fall enough to become downright chilly. Our windows are closed up instead of wide open, and although I haven't had to turn on the heat yet, it's coming soon. I kind of like this time of year.

Today I want to talk about karma. If you're not familiar with the Sanskrit word, it explains how our actions affect us, according to many Asian religions. From that link:
[Karma] refers to the spiritual principle of cause and effect where intent and actions of an individual (cause) influence the future of that individual (effect). Good intent and good deed contribute to good karma and future happiness, while bad intent and bad deed contribute to bad karma and future suffering. 
I have heard that word often lately, since I recently had a car accident where I was rear-ended. I wrote about it here, so I won't go into the details this minute, but suffice it to say that I think I might have earned myself some good karma. Some of my friends think maybe I've made a mistake, but I don't think so: I am not going to contact the insurance company of the other party involved, since they are a commercial operation and would have to pay for it with higher premiums. Instead, they have agreed to cover all the costs of repair and also pay for me to rent a car for two weeks.

A while back I wrote here about the Five Buddhist Remembrances, which remind me of how there is really very little that we can take with us on our journey through life. Our health, youth, friends and family, these will all pass away, and our actions are our only true belongings. The consequences of our actions cannot be escaped, and therefore it seems to me it's good to build up some good karma.

I've known about the concept since I was a hippie living in California in a commune. I don't think I've mentioned this time in my life before, but it was very instrumental in shaping my worldview. I had emerged from my third divorce, and my son's father took Chris to live with him and his wife, since I was in a precarious place in my own life. Although previously Chris had visited him every summer and every other major holiday and lived with me the rest of the time, I had not insisted that his father pay the child support he owed me. In order for him to get Chris to live with him, Derald (Chris' father and my first husband) had to pay the back child support, which amounted to several thousand dollars.

Suddenly, I was without my teenage son and had money in the bank. I promptly quit my job and moved into a hippie community and became what we referred to back then as a "drop out" from regular life. The big old mansion where the community lived had dozens of bedrooms, even a ballroom in the basement, and I had to be voted into the 21-person community in order to join. It also had a huge kitchen, and everyone shared duties to make sure the place worked. Twice a week we gathered in the evenings to share concerns and make sure everyone was engaged in constructive activities to make our community successful. It was an eye opener for me. This all happened in the early to mid-1970s.

During this period, I really let myself go. I stopped wearing bras and gained a good deal of weight. I wore long hippie dresses and Bibb overalls, like all the other women who didn't work outside of the House. I went to plenty of concerts with the likes of the Grateful Dead and others, since we were only an hour away from San Francisco and traveled there in our big van. I remember that life with fond memories, and I learned about Sufi dancing (which took place in our ballroom) and Buddhist concepts, including karma. It actually became, I realize now, part of my most basic beliefs.

Over the years, I have seen karma in action, and it's become part of today's culture, with many of us hearing about good or bad karma without actually thinking about what it means. But I do believe that it's important to add good karma to the world. After my accident and telling people about it, I heard several stories of fake whiplash incidents when other people were hit from behind. I also heard some horror stories about dealing with insurance companies. I called my own insurance company to tell them about the accident and my desire to deal with it privately, and once I explained my reasons, my insurance agent registered the event in my records and left it at that.

On Tuesday, I will get my car over to the auto shop and will pick up a rental car. I'm looking forward to having another car to drive, an automatic, which makes me feel better about the long drive through Seattle traffic to catch the ferry to Vashon Island. Wednesday through Sunday I will be back at the Lavender Farm home for our sixth writing retreat. It will probably be our last, too, since we lost another Vashonista this year and the rental is a bit on the expensive side for the four of us. So I will make the best of it and enjoy myself with my dear blogging friends.

One of my friends pointed out to me when relaying the events of the accident that "kind people get taken advantage of" and that it might happen in a way that I don't anticipate. But that's the nature of life, isn't it? When I wrote about the hippie commune, I reflected on all the events that had to happen for me to end up right here in Bellingham. All the twists and turns of life's adventures brought me to this moment, with me sitting here in the dark, tapping keys on my laptop, and my dear partner still sleeping, as usual. A wise unknown person once said this about karma:
Whatever you give to life, it gives you back. Do not hate anybody. The hatred which comes out from you will someday come back to you. Love others. And love will come back to you.
So here I am, on this dark Sunday morning, reflecting on all the love that surrounds me. I must be doing something right. I hope that you will have a wonderful week, and I'll be writing from my farmhouse bed next Sunday, no partner next to me, coffee instead of tea, and my delightful fellow writers. Until then, be well and remember that we are in this together.