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, December 31, 2023

Tough year behind us

Fairhaven terminal building

Yesterday morning my friends Don and Steve joined me for a walk from the coffee shop to Fairhaven, where we wanted to see the burned-out building that caught fire and was completely destroyed late on December 16. For weeks the authorities had suspected that a missing man had died in the fire. He had not been seen or heard from since the fire, and he often spent the night there, since he was the owner of both the coffee shop and restaurant housed in the building. They found a body that was identified as likely Nate Breaux a couple of days ago. An autopsy should confirm the identity. Nate's parents have been in the city for the past week, hoping for news, even if it wasn't what they hoped for.

Don, me, JJ and Steve

We walked across the street from the fire and sat down with JJ, who witnessed the whole thing, sort of. He's a statue of JJ Donovan, who moved to Fairhaven in 1888 to build a railroad to bring his coal from Skagit County to the newly established town of Fairhaven. He looks pretty dressed up compared to us, but I guess he was dressed for a special occasion. Maybe he was sculpted from a photograph, but I don't know for sure.

I'm convinced we will find out soon enough whose body they found, and I sure hope they find out two things: how the fire started, and a hope that Nate was not conscious but perhaps died of smoke inhalation before... well, you know. Anyway, it was just one more awful thing that happened during the year we will put to bed tonight. All the climate disasters, the wars, and more. Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times put it quite well in his end-of-year post:
As the year ends, civilians are dying at a staggering pace in Gaza and the genocide in Darfur may be resuming. A man charged with 91 felonies is leading in American presidential polls, and our carbon emissions risk cooking our planet.
It's well worth reading the entire article, if you can find the time. This one ends on a hopeful note, and since we are all so tired of the unremittingly bad news, it's well worth a read. After viewing the remains of the building, we walked back the way we had come, covering more than five miles and enjoying the incredibly mild weather and lack of rain. It's almost ten degrees warmer than normal for this time of the year in our part of the country. We will probably get real winter weather before spring shows up, though.

 Last week I got a full measure of exercise, which has been hard for me to get lately, so I was pleased that I was able to hike with the Trailblazers both Tuesday and Thursday, and got almost a full six miles with the guys yesterday. I also worked out in the Senior Center's gym for some upper body exercise. Considering that my ancient body is holding up so well, I am feeling quite fortunate and grateful. I will take this state of happy equilibrium for as long as it lasts.

I'm sure that many of us are parceling the news into our daily diet carefully, so we don't get overwhelmed with it all. There's nothing to be done from my vantage point, although I still cannot help but get pulled down if I don't watch out. And that does nobody any good. Keeping a positive attitude is essential to my own health, and I suspect yours as well. And tomorrow we start a brand new year! Tonight the old year will be retired and the new one, filled with our hopes and desires for peace and tranquility, will arrive. Another milestone comes to give us a marker as we move through our lives.

I have been reading quite a lot on my Kindle lately, which makes it so much easier for me to see with its "low vision" setting. I can read for more than an hour before I need to stop and rest my eyes. If I allowed myself to get all gloomy over my failing eyesight, it wouldn't change anything except to make me sad, in the face of all the wonderful ways to appreciate being alive and functioning so well in the present moment. As I begin this new year, I am filled with optimism and hope.

I am also continuing to study Buddhism and find it very helpful to see how sages of the past went about their daily lives. I recently discovered what Buddhists call the three poisons, three things that make our lives so much better or worse, depending on how we deal with them. Those three poisons are GREED, ANGER, and IGNORANCE. What surprises me is how relevant these teachings are to today's world. Then I realize that we are all, every one of us as we move through time and space, in the same boat. We are humans trying to find ways to live our best lives.

The best part of looking at those three poisons is seeing how I might change them into their opposites in my own daily life. I am not often a greedy person, but I realize I can easily become more conscious of how I can share my bounty with others. It's what I am doing by writing this post, for one thing. Letting you know how I live and function in society. We (hubby and me) are in the phase of letting go of stuff, rather than amassing more of it. For Christmas we didn't exchange gifts; there is simply nothing that we need more of. Instead we enjoyed each other's company, good food, and (for me) some good beer. It is enough.

Anger is a little harder to deal with, since so much of what is going on in the world causes me to become upset and want to change things. Of course, the only thing I can really do something about is my own internal mindset. Taking a deep breath, realizing that my own state of mind is essential to my happiness, and saying a prayer for equilibrium always helps me in the moment. And I don't think that allowing myself to get angry does anything to change the outside world, but it does plenty to disrupt my own internal one. 

And finally, ignorance. We are all ignorant in some aspects, but there are ways to overcome it. Opening my mind to the wisdom of others, educating myself rather than sticking by old prejudices and habits. Ignorance can only be overcome by knowledge. We are all endowed with the incredible ability to learn and change our minds when we discover wisdom. It is available to anyone willing to let go of old ways of thinking. We can all become wise and compassionate.
The limits of the possible can only be defined by going beyond them into the impossible. —Arthur C. Clarke
Those three poisons are ones that we can turn into their opposites, with enough of us willing to apply the medicine that heals us: loving kindness and compassion. I know it sounds impossible, but just writing about this has opened my heart to new ways of being in the world. Instead of a cramped feeling in my chest, I feel the expansion of love filling it and I feel myself opening up to joy. That is what I wish for you, too.

I am looking over at my dear partner, still sleeping next to me, and I know that today we will hug each other many times and share laughter together. Whether your day looks anything like mine, I sincerely hope that you will find your own ways to mitigate those three poisons and perhaps share them with me. Until we meet again next week, dear friends, I wish you all good things. Truly.

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Christmas Eve 2023

At the Capilano Bridge

My routine has been completely disrupted by a sweet gift given to me by my friend Lily. She and another friend decided to treat me to an amazing day and night by taking me to the Capilano Bridge in North Vancouver, Canada. We started in the early afternoon, first by going across the border on Christmas weekend, meaning it took an hour to cross, but we did finally manage. Then driving in horrendous traffic until we found the area in which to park the car for the festivities, which was of course full up. We had to park quite a ways away and be shuttled to the park.

But once we got there, we were just three people in a mass of humanity, the likes of which I haven't seen for decades. Long rope lines kept people moving in the right direction, as we headed towards the bridge itself. This bridge is just under 500 feet in length, and stretches across the Capilano River, a long ways below us. I was truly unprepared for the experience of stepping onto the wobbly suspension bridge, which swayed mightily as the crowds of people went across.

The bridge 

I thought maybe by the time I got to the center, it would stop moving quite so much, but it was just more intense. I never felt good about it, and held onto the side with real fear. It's one thing to be on a suspension bridge, but to be there with so many other people, and having wonky eyesight on top of that, it was quite the experience indeed. I am glad we went, but I was also glad when we made it across to the other side.

Anyway, after the hours-long experience of the bridge and the sights to be seen, we drove to one of Lily's favorite restaurants in Canada and had dinner. This was at 7:00pm at night, and at first I wasn't going to eat much, but I was famished, so I had a wonderful salad and (of course) a beer! But the night wasn't over yet; we still had to get back across the border. This time, however, since it was much later, it was only a fifteen-minute crossing. And then we headed home.  I was home and safe in bed by a little after 10:00pm. This might not sound late to you, but I collapsed into bed and slept dreamlessly until this morning. I am in no shape to contemplate a post, so I decided to give you the treat of an old Christmas Eve post, from 2012, eleven Christmas Eves ago. It was a favorite, and I hope you will enjoy it too

* * *

Christmas Eve 2002

It's been ten years [NB: longer than that now] since Mike McGowan took that picture of me. Every Christmas Smart Guy and I would spend in Eloy, attending the Holiday Boogie at Skydive Arizona. I started going a couple of times every year to Arizona when I lived in Boulder, Colorado. It was just short of a thousand miles away, a couple of long days driving. If the weather looked iffy, we took the southern route; otherwise we drove north to I-80 and then south through Flagstaff on our way to Eloy, which is situated off I-10 between Phoenix and Tucson.

My boss Mickey knew I would want two weeks off during the holidays, and every year before I took off he would hand me a check for $500, knowing full well just where I would spend it. This was out of his own pocket, as we didn't get any kind of bonus at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Mickey is a very generous person, and I took full advantage of his largess over the years. (Of course, thirty years of working together meant that he also took advantage of me at times.)

That year, 2002, was momentous for me. My son Chris died in August and I had spent the previous three months grieving for my loss. And then earlier in December I turned sixty, which seemed old, very old to me, especially since I was involved in skydiving, which most people think of as a daredevil sport designed for youngsters. (There are plenty of older skydivers, by the way.)

The night before this picture was taken, I had been sitting in the Bent Prop, the local diner at Skydive Arizona, and Mike McGowan and I talked for awhile about life and loss. He's no stranger to loss himself, and he commiserated with me over Chris' sudden passing. Mike has his own photography business, FunAir Productions, and he spends his days during the boogie getting on loads and taking pictures of various skydives. At the end of each day, we would gather in the hangar looking at the proofs he posted for any interested customer to purchase. I bought many from him over the years, when I would want to have a keepsake of a particular skydive.

I don't remember the skydive I had just completed when the picture was taken, but I do know that Mike was not on it. He had just landed from another skydive when I saw him on the ground in front of me. He used a flash and I saw it light up but thought nothing of it. He's a professional photographer, after all, and I thought he probably took pictures every chance he got. It was Christmas Eve, and the sunset after a beautiful day spent in the Arizona sky was a perfect way to end the day.

A few hours later I was again sitting in the Bent Prop when Mike came over and sat down across from me. We spoke of the beautiful day we had just experienced, and we wished each other Merry Christmas when he handed me a 9x12 brown envelope. Mike waited while I opened it to see the picture. Then he left me speechless, as both of us teared up, no further explanation needed. A gesture of love and a Christmas present like no other I have ever received.

I'm sure Mike is still out there in Eloy taking pictures and posting them every evening in the hangar, but it's been five years since I last attended the boogie. Now that I'm living in Washington state, it's no longer a short drive, and living on a fixed income doesn't give me the same chance to spend money like I did a decade ago. But I still have my memories, and I'm still skydiving seasonally when the weather cooperates. Friendship doesn't go away, and I know if I saw Mike again it would be like old times.

For some reason that James Taylor song Fire and Rain has been going through my mind the entire time I've been writing this post. You know the one I mean:
I've seen fire and I've seen rain
I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I'd see you again.
Who knows what the future holds? Another Christmas Eve is upon us, isn't it?

* * *

And now, here I am sitting in the dark in my usual spot for Sunday morning, dear husband sleeping quietly next to me, and I need to get myself up and ready for the breakfast that John and I will be enjoying together. Not that I'm hungry, after last night's dinner, but I'll manage. And then life will return to Christmas Eve normality. Until we meet again next week, I wish you the happiest of holidays, dear friends.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Old growth trees and more

Two thousand-year-old red cedar

I found a truly inspiring story about this wonderful old growth tree in British Columbia, which is being protected by those who know where it is, in order to keep it from being logged. Just look at the person in the picture (lower left) to get an idea of the size of this tree. For me, it's unimaginable that someone might look at this ancient specimen and only think of acre-feet to be harvested. I thought that Canada was more enlightened than those of us in the US, but I was wrong to think that. Greed crosses borders without anybody being the wiser. But there is an organization in British Columbia, called the Ancient Forest Alliance, that is working hard to protect the remaining old growth forests in and around British Columbia.

Three years ago, the Canadian government passed a law that any old growth trees of a diameter more than 4.6 meters must be protected and nor harvested. But it turns out that this law has been ignored during the time since it was passed. You cannot just replant an old growth tree and wait for it to grow old. We are such ephemeral creatures. we only last for at most a century, and these trees were around long, long ago that in some places they are older than civilization as we know it today. 

I have seen some old growth myself, while hiking with the Senior Trailblazers, but nothing like the size of the ancient trees I've learned about lately. It is truly amazing to think that anything lives that long, and to think that some people don't find these ancient forests worth protecting just boggles my mind. Anyway, there is so much going on around these ancient forests, and I am hoping that the current initiatives to save them will be successful. They are irreplaceable.

I love forests of all kinds, old and young, and I've had to hike through clear-cut areas all around Bellingham, where the forest has been decimated in order to log the valuable trees, and then replanted with new trees. And I have been hiking long enough to see some forests begin to recover, with trees growing from saplings into ones almost as high as me. But they are just babies and won't be available to become lumber for many decades. I know some people think it's silly to love trees, but I am definitely not one of them. Although I am writing about them, I do hope that it will serve only to bring attention to their plight. It's not my intention to awaken anybody's desire to harvest them. So I write this and hope my readers will take into account their incredible value, and perhaps even donate to the cause. 

So it is with trepidation that I even bring them to your attention through this post. While it's important to be cognizant of the need to protect them, it's also important to retain their secrets and keep them from the public eye. Only then will I feel I've helped and not harmed these magnificent creatures. How about you? What's the biggest tree you have ever seen?

* * *

I am feeling pretty good after having caught my first cold since the pandemic began and I started wearing masks. I think I caught it last week while attending the strength training class. We were all fairly close to one another and breathing hard at times. I first felt a scratchiness in my throat, but it wasn't bad, and then I began sneezing and feeling a little under the weather. Within two days, however, all my symptoms were gone, and a covid test told me I didn't have the dreaded virus. Another one confirmed them, and then SG got sick last night with a sore throat. He took the covid test and it came out negative. We have both been vaccinated and boosted, and have gotten our flu shots, so if we do get sick, it's probably not going to land us in the hospital, even at our advanced ages. (Famous last words, eh?)

What I had forgotten is that feeling of being healthy and happy that comes after the cold recedes. I am feeling better than I did before I got sick, and sniffles and congestion are long gone. And it's been less than a week, so I am heartened that it was just a regular old cold. Today is a new day, and I'm looking forward to seeing my friend John, who will drive us to Fairhaven for breakfast, just like we've been doing for years. I like routine and familiarity, but you probably already knew that about me. Writing this Sunday morning post, for instance, has been going on for many years now. This is my 735th Sunday morning post, which translates into an impressive number of years. I've not missed a post, even while I've been traveling. In 2015, I remember writing one propping up in my bed in Istanbul, listening to the call to prayer outside. Also I've written them while visiting my sister in Florida, surrounded by cuddly dogs. It's been awhile since I've been anywhere other than in my own bed, with my dear sweet guy sleeping quietly next to me.

What is my sense of adventure? It's still there, even as an octogenarian. I have put behind me the chills and thrills of skydiving, but I still dream of those days when I climbed outside an airplane, holding on until it was time for me to let go and join the others who jumped with me. I now find chills and thrills by going on a hard hike and climbing to places with cliffs that show what distance I've covered. I am still an adventurer, but my adventures have changed as the decades have passed. Emotionally I am still young and unchanged from the passage through life.

I am running out of time to finish this post. When perusing brainyquote, I found a quote that struck me with its relevance, but I cannot seem to find any way to build the words around it to make it fit. I thought about deleting it, but I won't, because each time I read it, I feel myself resonate with it. Here it is:

If we listened to our intellect, we'd never have a love affair. We'd never have a friendship. We'd never go into business, because we'd be cynical. Well, that's nonsense. You've got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down. —Ray Bradbury

I can feel myself building my wings every single day that I awake with a new day ahead, with happy moments in my future. That's because I can imagine whatever I want, and hopefully it will all come true. I do hope that the coming weeks will bring many wonderful new adventures in whatever flavor you choose: big or small, but in any event delightful and fulfilling. Until we meet again next week, I wish you all good things, dear friends.


Sunday, December 10, 2023

Unexpectedly wet walk

String quartet at Adagio's

It sure seemed like it would be a normal walk yesterday, with my friends Steve and Don, as we set out from the coffee shop under mostly cloudy skies to walk to Squalicum Harbor, which is one of our favorites. We walked across the bridge and saw the snout of a seal sticking out of the water, checking out the scene. After we had navigated a couple of miles, suddenly we saw it: a squall of wind and water heading our way. Our nice dry walk turned into a torrent of icy pellets, plenty of regular old rain, and heavy wind. In nothing flat, we were soaked and turned around to head back into town. Steve took us on a shortcut, so we only managed a brief three-miler, but the weather made it quite exciting. Don took off for his car as soon as we got close, but I decided to go inside the coffee shop and get myself a hot chocolate and try to dry out a little. Steve came in for a few minutes, but then he took off too. 

I was surprised to see that string quartet in there, playing lots of Christmas tunes, and it was really nice to be indoors and have a place to gather myself together. Everything I had on was soaked, except for my rain pants, which were snug inside my pack, where I had brought them just in case. I decided it was not worth trying to get them on while I was struggling to stand upright. Once we made it back to the coffee shop, I found an open table and sat down to enjoy an incredibly good (and plenty warm) hot chocolate. I felt quite happy after having a few minutes of relaxation, safe from the storm. It continued to rain and blow, but once I felt ready, I made a beeline to my car and drove home. No desire to set out again for the rest of the day.

And, as it turned out, the rain never let up. Today we are expected to get more heavy rain, which means the streams and rivers around here will finally overflow their banks. It's above freezing, but only by a few degrees, and my heart goes out to all those poor homeless people who are just trying to stay dry and warm. I have a nice warm home, and plenty of warm clothes and blankets. It makes me feel guilty for having such luxuries while there are people all around the world who don't have anywhere to go to escape their misery. I woke in the middle of the night and couldn't go back to sleep, thinking about it all. 

What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like. —Saint Augustine

The middle of the night has passed, without me finding any respite in sleep. I did wake my guy and we huddled together in the dark, talking about our various states of mind. It never fails to make me feel better when I feel his arms around me, another fellow traveler through this life, sharing the good and the not so good, which is just part of the human condition. I want to spend my days and hours in love, and Saint Augustine reminds me that love is not all hearts and flowers, but seeing others as they are and helping however we can. Right now that help will be in the form of a post, one that will hopefully be uplifting to myself and in the process, help others.

I could easily list the terrible happenings I read about and see on the news every day, but that would not be helpful, plus you probably already know about them. Instead, in this season of dark nights and grey days, perhaps it would be more useful to consider that in just a few short weeks, the days will begin to lengthen (slowly), the sun will shine intermittently, and soon we will begin a new year, another journey around the sun. We will bob up and down in harmony with the ocean swells as we hold onto each other in our little lifeboats in the enormity that is our lives.

Yesterday, while wrapped in a blanket in my easy chair, I watched a wonderful documentary on PBS about Tyrus Wong, a Chinese-born American artist who came to this country in the 1930s and became an influential artist in many areas: as a painter, animator, calligrapher, muralist, ceramicist, lithographer and kite maker, as well as a set designer and storyboard artist. My first experience of his art was when I watched Bambi, as a young child, an animated story about a deer and his friends. It was produced by Disney and came to the screen in 1942, the year I was born. In the documentary, I learned that his art was very different from anything created earlier, using minimalist backgrounds and charming brushstrokes. It has become a classic.

In June 2008, the American Film Institute presented a list of its "10 Top 10"—the best ten films in each of ten classic American film genres—after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community. Bambi placed third in animation. In December 2011, the film was added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically and aesthetically significant." (Wikipedia)

 Although Tyrus was discriminated against because of his ethnicity, he never seemed to take it personally and never stopped trying to create. He married Ruth Kim in 1937 and became father to three daughters. He and his father immigrated illegally in 1920 until the Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed in 1946. He then became an American citizen and found work at Disney Studios and later Warner Brothers. When I think of how hard his life was, and how successful he became, I realize that there is nothing that cannot be overcome, with (as he said) "luck and hard work."

Tyrus died in 2016 at the age of 106, having changed the face of animation forever, and having created so much that is still being discovered today. For many years, his contribution to Bambi was unknown. After having watched that documentary, I realize that I too was unaware of the depth and breadth of his creative talents. How many other wonderful people have I missed, or worse, misjudged, in my own life? Perhaps it's more important for me to take stock of my life today, as well as my friends and family, and examine it and them for clues to unrecognized talent.

One thing I know for sure: that in taking a look outside of my own life at the world around me, with all its depth and possibility for change, there is a way to be hopeful and filled with love for it all. Yes, all of it, if I can let go of judgment and simply let it in. I realize that just being tuned into the disasters and pain of the world that fills the TV screen are NOT all there is to see and experience. I will not let myself get pulled into the misery, when all I have to do is look over at my dear sweet partner, placidly sleeping next to me as I write, to realize that cultivating an "attitude of gratitude" will go a long way toward healing my worldview.

And you, my dear virtual family, will hopefully find your own way to happiness as you navigate the shoals of your own life. We do get to choose, you know. My tea is long gone, and my day will begin once I finish this post and climb out of bed to enjoy the rain and wait for my friend John to take me to Sunday breakfast once again. Until we meet again next week, dear friends, I do hope you find a way to relax and enjoy the moment just a bit. I know I will be doing that, too. I wish you all good things and wish you many happy returns of the season.

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Holiday activities ahead

The view from Eagle Cliff

Well, I can now say that I had the best birthday week of my life. Or that I can remember, at least. It started on Monday with a new class, strength training, that will continue until December 22. Twice a week I will get instructed, along with my other classmates, on the correct operation of the fifteen exercise stations in the Senior Center's gym. I have already used a couple of machines that I've never been on before: the abdominal crunch and the low back extender. I started on low weights, since I have plenty of "stuff" going on in those areas. It's also fun learning new skills. 

As the week went on, I got a good acupuncture treatment, a fabulous massage from my regular therapist, and a super-wonderful hike on Wednesday, to a place new to me: Cypress Island in the San Juans. That picture was taken from the high point of our several hikes. It's a thousand feet above the water, and we traversed it in just over a mile's distance. That means, yes, it was steep. I couldn't have done it without my trekking poles. But all twelve of us made it to the top, before turning around and carefully descending to get to our pickup spot with our water taxi boat.

And now I am well and truly into my eighties. I cannot help but wonder how I managed to be in such good shape at this time in my life, and although I've got pins in my back and knees, I still seem to be able to hike nine miles! It must be all the years I've continued to exercise, but I don't know for sure what might be the reason. Good genes? My parents didn't manage to make it out of their sixties, but they didn't have statins and died of heart disease. I sometimes wonder how long they might have lasted if their hearts had been healthy. All I know for sure is that I must continue to be vigilant and take care of my physical self for as long as I can. We all do end at some point not too far into the future. I won't know until I get there.
Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards. —Soren Kierkegaard
Perhaps it's normal, but since I've never been this old before, I do begin to wonder how it will all finish up. Not having grandchildren, or even living children, there is nobody who will grieve too terribly when my demise finally comes. At this age, there are only a few options that I can think of: physical illness, an accident, dementia perhaps. Now that my birthday has passed for the year, I intend to enjoy all the holiday hoopla. Sedately, that is. I will probably attend two or three holiday parties and will see good friends, but for the most part SG and I will just continue to carry on our daily activities as usual. We have a particularly soggy forecast for the next week or so, with as much as three or four inches of rain coming our way through an atmospheric river. At least that means it will be warm and not freezing. At this moment, early in the morning, it's already 41°F with a light rain. Being a Pacific Northwesterner, I have lots of raincoats and rain pants. It is truly amazing what a difference it makes to have proper gear for the weather. I almost look forward to it.

I keep thinking about that hike we did last Wednesday and what a beautiful place Cypress Island is. While the days will continue to get even shorter over the next few weeks, it will not be long before we turn the corner and begin to see more light in the morning sky. By the end of January, it will be very noticeable. That picture above was taken at the end of November with the sun low on the horizon at around 2:30 in the afternoon, but soon we will have reached the nadir. I believe the first day of winter starts on December 21, with it also being the beginning of summer in the Southern Hemisphere. I love seeing the changing seasons, and still am amazed that we have summer beginning somewhere on the planet, while some of us begin our winter. It seems that 12% of the human population lives Down Under. 

Yesterday I enjoyed a nice five-mile walk from the coffee shop, with friends Steve and Don. We were ready for the rain, which continued all night, but just for us the sun came out and we saw blue skies. Today will begin with "sprinkles" and change to actual rain by noon or so. I do hope I will be able to get out for at least a short walk, and that I can put on all my rain gear and pretend I'm related to the ducks. When I was a young girl, I remember wearing galoshes and carrying an umbrella. Although I own an umbrella, I rarely use it here, because when it rains, it usually blows as well. You don't see many umbrellas around these parts; mostly used by transplants to the region, I suspect. Just a time or two of having your umbrella blown inside out will discourage its use. 

Taking stock of where I am in the scheme of things makes me ponder once again how it might all change. After all, change is inevitable, and when I look back at the long arc of my life, I'm thinking that there must be a rainbow somewhere that will show the pot of gold at the ending point. I do like to think that instead of dreary grey skies, I'll be looking at rainbows. I am determined to live every moment of my life in love and gratitude for all that I've been blessed with. Counting one's blessings is always a happy task, no matter what your circumstances might be. (There are exceptions, of course, but attitude does make a huge difference in our perception.)

I feel myself beginning to think ahead to the day's activities: John will be coming around in his truck to take me to Fairhaven for our usual Sunday breakfast. Then I'll return home and spend some time talking with SG about the day ahead. He is busy researching what his next computer will be, while I will spend some time watching a few episodes of The Crown on Netflix. It is currently in its sixth season, and I stopped watching it awhile back and have to finish season five before starting on the current season. Since I was young, I've watched the royal drama, and remember well when William and Harry were born. Now they are parents themselves, and Harry wrote a book about what it was like for him being a member of the royal family. It really does seem odd that we still have kings and queens in some parts of the world, doesn't it? It seems an anachronism to me, but then again, we still have never figured out the best way to govern ourselves. I suppose I won't ever see what the future holds in that regard, but I'm content to imagine a future where we all live in harmony with one another.

And with that lovely thought, I think I'll wrap up this holiday gift to my readers, imperfect as it is. When I was a kid, I sometimes created homemade gifts for my parents and family, and I suspect they are just as fondly remembered as anything that could be purchased. The season is upon us, and I wish my dear virtual family all good things in the weeks ahead, and that you will also find a way to count your blessings and share the love. Until we meet again next week, I wish you health, wealth, and happiness.