Saturday, June 9, 2018

Torah Thoughts on Shelach Lecha


As the Israelites make their way through the wilderness, Moses sends out twelve spies, one from each tribe, to scout out the land of Canaan.  When they return, the report is at first reasonable – it is a good land but well-defended, and the inhabitants are strong and it will require an effort to overcome them.  But as they speak, ten of the twelve lose faith and begin to exaggerate the situation.  “They were so big, we looked like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and so we must have looked to them”, they report.  The people panic, and the two good spies, Joshua and Caleb, cannot convince them to give up their fear and go about the task that God has given them.   Midrash Tanhuma (Shelach §7) adds a commentary to the text.  God says to the evil spies, “You looked like grasshoppers in your own eyes; that I can forgive.  But how do you know how you looked in their eyes?  Perhaps I made you appear like angels to them!” 

I think it is good for us to be reminded that the way we feel about ourselves does not necessarily correspond to the way we are seen by others.  We may feel inadequate, but to our loved ones, we are precious, as they are to us.  Perhaps we did something kind for someone a long time ago which we may have forgotten, but they never have.  We are made in God’s image, so each one of us is a reflection of God, and to others, we may well appear like angels.

Friday, May 18, 2018

This time, the Fool Killer isn't walking away


Tom Wolfe


People have been digging up their favorite Tom Wolfe quotes since his death May 14. Here’s mine, from The Right Stuff: 
  “It was the kind of crowd that would have made the Fool Killer lower his club and shake his head and walk away, frustrated by the magnitude of the opportunity.”
  Wolfe was writing about the media mob on the lawn of John Glenn’s house on Feb. 20, 1962, waiting for Glenn to be either hurled into space or explode in a giant fireball on the Cape Canaveral launching pad.
  Now, it seems the situation has been reversed. The “Fool Killers” are the media. And they have some rich opportunities for their shillelaghs. Just to name a few:
   --  Michael Flynn.
   -- Paul Manafort.
   -- Michael Cohen.
   -- Rudy Giuliani.
   -- Scott Pruitt.
   -- Donald Trump Jr.
   -- Jared Kushner.
  -- And Kelly Sadler, a nobody Trump staffer who became instantly famous for dismissing John McCain: “he’s dying anyway.” (As a hospice patient myself, I found Sadler’s remark particularly galling.)
  -- And, of course, the Commander in Chief Fool, who makes all this happen, like a mad wizard flinging poisonous flowers from his fingertips.
  Special counsel Robert Mueller and his team are doing an excellent job of chopping through the underbrush in search of fools that need cudgeling. Let’s hope they’re allowed to continue their work unimpeded by the Chief Fool.
  And let’s also hope the Fool Killer doesn’t become overwhelmed by his opportunities, as Wolfe says he did back in the beginning of the Space Age.
  There’s much more at stake now. Our democracy, for example.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Watching Life Through My Window

During my childhood I never lived in a town.  We never had a street address. While our house did have windows what we saw through them was nature in all its glories.  We never saw people except on the rare occasions when we had visitors.  I'm an adult now and I work from home.  The isolation or seclusion feels familiar and comfortable. There's a big difference, though, between the isolation of my youth and my current because I work from home isolation.  We live on a street and our living room and dining room windows look out on that street.  Just about every morning I drink my coffee on the living room couch looking at our street.  Life pretty much progresses though that window.  I've seen deer in our front yard.  I've watched blizzards drop mountains of snow.  Almost every morning people walk their dogs.  And for the last four years I've watched the children of our next door neighbors grow and gain independence.  When we first moved here only the little boy went to school.  Every morning his mother walked him to the school bus which picked him up on a nearby corner.  His little sister got pushed in a stroller.  Sometimes they were all bundled up and other times they wore less constricting clothing.  And suddenly before I knew it both children were getting on the school bus still walked to the corner by their mother.  Lately the mother has been walking several yards behind the siblings.  Clearly there's an understanding of an increased need for independence.  Once when the sister did not go to school the mother only walked part way to the bus.  Then all of a sudden she started running toward it, shouting and waving her arms.  The little boy, possibly, had asked or informed that he would get off the bus by himself.  He then became confused and wandered into the middle of the street.  Luckily our street isn't busy and no passing cars came even close to being a danger.  However, when she got to him and hustled him out of the street and onto the sidewalk they hugged and comforted each other and finally, still embracing, walked back down the street to their home. I watch dogs on leashes grow from puppy to middle age, from out of control to greater obedience.  I think I'm lucky for a work schedule that allows me time to watch through my window life progress and pass. And maybe someday I'll find out the names of the family living next door to me.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Sometimes Life Just Takes Time

About a year ago my grandson and I planted an apple tree and a pear tree.  You may recall reading about that adventure on this blog.  While the apple tree thrived, the pear tree didn't do so well.  In fact, I was pretty sure it had died or if it hadn't died by fall it would surely not survive the winter.  My grandson was upset and wanted to keep checking on the pear tree just in case.  He's a bit of a worrier that way but no more so than I.  We were both pretty concerned about the little baby pear tree.  This winter was particularly long and incredibly cold.  And then spring crept in and the pear tree has leaves and possibly even some flowers.  There are a couple of dead branches but the tree itself is obviously alive.  I was never tempted to declare it dead and I certainly never considered pulling it out of the ground.  Sometimes it just seems to take some of us a little longer to get started.

Friday, April 27, 2018

We got by ... with a lot of help from our friends

Odysseus and Argos

It was a time of perpetual strangeness, like Odysseus in his long attempt to get back home to Penelope. And of course, his faithful dog, Argos.

First, there was the flood. Early one Sunday morning, my wife, Linda, woke me crying: “Tom, we have a problem – the hall bathroom is flooded.”
The fates had conspired to make this problem worse than it had to be. Linda recently had hip replacement surgery and couldn’t reach down to turn off the spigot to the bathroom toilet. And I had a number of health woes that made springing into action impossible. By the time I sloshed down the hall and into the bathroom, several rooms were flooded.
Since then, we’ve had many visitors at our house. Plumbers. Water damage restoration companies. Insurance adjusters. Carpet installers. It seemed like half the subcontractors in Tucson visited our house at various times.
The roaring of the dozen blowers and dehumidifiers drying out our place made sleeping there impossible, so we had to stay in a hotel for a week. Then, we were able to return to a dry home while the restoration and carpet installers did their things.  
Meanwhile, friends had to help Linda get to her rehab treatments, and keep us supplied with groceries and other necessities. Fortunately, we had a lot of help, because of our wonderful and caring congregation, St. Mark’s United Methodist Church.
 I’m going to name those helpers here, feeling like an Oscar winner trying to thank everybody before they run out breath or time: Chris Bahnson, Kathie Barrett, Jeff Blackburn, Susan Gerstad, Linda Girard, Sandi Heilman, Martha Mazzolini, Sally Mettler, Vicki Minger, Maryanne Nucholls,  Gil and Kathy Parrish, Marcia Rostad, Connie White and Marlyce Wright.
By now I’m gasping for breath, but there are still more. Our neighbors, Maryannette Bednar and Jim Lopez, who help us every day. And my Hospice Family Care team: my nurse , Angela Lineberger and her husband, Mike, who does volunteer work for us; and my wonderful hospice assistant, Blanca MontaƱo.
And finally, our grown children, Michael Walker and his wife, Remy; and Christina Walker Rowden. And, of course, our grandchildren, Niko Walker and Cait Rowden. I also want to say a special thank you to Michael Schapker, the Tucson claims adjuster for USAA, our insurance company.
Meanwhile, the strangeness has continued. Gnawing into a slice of stiff-crust bread, I managed to break a front tooth at the root. Fortunately, I didn’t swallow the tooth. Also fortunately, the broken tooth doesn’t hurt at all; it probably had been root-canalled-out long ago. So right now, I have a serious gap in my smile. Maybe I'll say that I've joined the Tucson Roadrunners Hockey team. Or maybe I just won’t smile very much anymore.                                                               
Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, doesn’t find very much to smile about either, these days. In a column that ran April 10 in the Arizona Daily Star, Reich warned that, under President Trump, our country may be tweeting toward a dictatorship.
Trump recently noted that Chinese President Xi Jinping was now president for life. “Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot someday.”’
“Some thought Trump was joking,” Reich says. “I’m not so sure.”
I’m not so sure, either. All the checks and balances seem to be crumbling, except for the Fourth Estate. And Trump has it under siege, too.
Argos? Good boy. Our poor old blind, flea infested press may be our best hope in this strange time of flooded houses, missing teeth and wanta-be dictators. That, and our network of friends, businesses and agencies like Medicare and Hospice Family Care.
Long may they run.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Right now there's a hole in my heart.

Nikola Trumbo
She died on April 23, 2018.  I found out about her death just as I was sitting down to write her an email.  She started out as my therapist and eventually I was honored to call her my friend.  She and her partner moved from Pasadena to Seattle and I clearly understood that we could have no contact for two years because that's the way it has to be between therapist and client.  However, she did give me her address and a photograph to serve as transitional objects and to be available in case of emergency primarily because during the several years I was her client I had quite a few emergencies.   I also understood that she would not contact me.  If contact were to be made, it would necessarily come from me.  I didn't contact her for over two years and then I reached out just to say hello.  She responded just to say hello back and then we began to correspond.  She commented on my writing and so it went until the morning I sat down to write what would have been my last email.  Maybe I should have sent it anyway because I don't really understand how these things work - these life and death things.  Niki Trumbo stood for things and spoke out on behalf of things.  She was a fierce advocate for social justice.  It seemed logical that she would be because her father, the writer Dalton Trumbo, was blacklisted during the McCarthy era and spent time in prison. She knew first hand the price paid for political gain. She also knew first hand that this country has been through hard times before.  She consulted on the recent film "Trumbo" and ultimately felt pleased with the result.  She was also a fierce advocate for saving the planet because, after all, it's the only home we've got.  I learned so much from her  and hopefully I have been able to share some of those learnings with the people who come to me for help.  And in the words of Niki Trumbo, what's the use of learning something if we don't share it.  Just knowing she existed was a comfort.  After the sadness leaves and the hole in my heart fills with all the joy surrounding me, I will take comfort in remembering her voice and the wisdom given to me by that voice.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Double Clutching

It's true.  I still drive my 1996 Jeep Cherokee.  It has almost 300,000 miles on it. I'm hoping to get it to at least 400,000 miles or more.  It doesn't like to get into second gear. It's  made one cross country trip and after Arkansas carried the our wheel drive shaft with the rest of the luggage.  I see no reason to replace it with something new.  I only get one radio station but that's okay.  I can always sing my own songs if that station stops coming in.  I'm good.  So is the Jeep.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Wandering Tax Documents Wander No More

Our CPA is every the voice of calm reason.  As my hysteria grew she kept reassuring me that everything would be fine.  She also pointed out that the United States Post Office delivers millions of pieces of mail each day with high success and that while it was unfortunate that our envelope to her got snagged very few of those snags happen.  Today I mailed our tax documents off to both state and federal.  Despite the wear and tear of this experience, I have to agree with the CPA.  The Post Office came through for us.  However, ever cautious, today I paid a little extra for proof that I had mailed all 4 envelopes today. 

Monday, April 16, 2018

So This Is Spring

The high today was in the upper thirties.  The wind howled while an icy rain fell.  Thunder could be heard first far away and then nearby and then far away again.  The daffodils, I'm sure, regretted their decision to bloom.  On the other hand St. Paul had a blizzard.  And on still another hand, I am a big fan of stormy weather.  So it is all fine with me.  The daffodils see things quite differently, though.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Our Blooming Magnolia Tree

Magnolia trees are really old.  Fossilized magnolias date back to well over 20 million years.  These trees, or at least their blossoms, predate the existence of bees.  One theory has it that the blossoms evolved just for the bees.  Proving that to name something is to claim it, magnolias were named by the French botanist Pierre Magnol who was presumably not alive 20 million years ago.
We are the care takers of a magnificent magnolia tree.  It lives in our backyard.  I don't know its age.  I do know that this tree is a bit of a mystery.  For starters, I thought Magnolia trees lived in the Southern part of this country.  New Jersey winters seem a bit cold for them but there's that tree thriving in our backyard.  The second mystery is that at least this tree gets its blossoms before its leaves.  That seems to reverse what I perceived to be the natural order of things.  But then who am I to declare a natural order to anything.  Nature is a daily miracle.  Enjoy!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Torah Thoughts on Shemini

In this week’s Torah portion, God tells Moses and Aaron to tell the Israelites what species and sorts of animals they may eat.  Land animals must have split hooves and chew their cud, sea creatures must have fins and scales, and birds of prey are not permitted as food.  These prohibitions form the basis for the laws of kashrut; keeping kosher.  Keeping kosher is important to many Jews for different reasons.  Some people feel that it is a holy act, some a spiritual exercise. Some keep kosher to identify with the Jewish people and some simply because it is what God told us to do.
People who keep kosher have to pay attention to what they are eating.  It makes us think about where our food comes from and what is in it.  Rabbi Harold Schulweis writes that “for animals, eating is a matter of instinct; only human beings can choose on moral or religious grounds not to eat something otherwise available.”  This attention may also bring us to be grateful for the food we eat. 
Keeping kosher may be an important mitzvah, but it isn’t the only one.  Rabbi Israel Salanter writes, “Only twice in the Torah are we commanded not to eat pork, yet every Jews knows that it is forbidden.  The Torah commands us many more times to refrain from gossip and harmful speech, yet many observant Jews do not sense that they are violating the Torah when they speak ill of others.”  Or, to paraphrase my friend and colleague Marc Kline, perhaps God cares less about what goes into our mouths that what comes out of our mouths.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Our Wandering Tax Documents

About the same time that we moved to New Jersey our CPA moved to the Pacific Northwest.  Go figure.  Anyway, we stayed with her and every year we Priority Mail our tax information to her and every year we meet with her via phone to go over stuff and every year we file our taxes in a timely manner.  Not so this year.  I mailed our tax documents on March 23 with an expected delivery date of March 26.  So far so good.  In early April the our CPA sent us an email asking if we would be needing her for our 2017 taxes.  ?????!!!!!&&&&&%%%%#.  Clearly she had not received our information.  I entered the tracking number in the USPS web site and learned that the envelope had not yet left New Jersey.  I went to the Post Office the next day and was told by a friendly human that he would look into this and get back to me.  Two weeks later I returned to the Post Office to basically say, "What's up?"  A woman named Jan because her parents wanted a son helped me and seemed much more efficient than the nameless guy of two weeks earlier.  Besides, I knew nothing about the gender expectations of his parents.  Anyway, Jan said someone would call me today and someone did call me today.  Today's caller had been able to even track down a picture of the envelope.  It was on the scanner address side down and so it didn't know where to go.  Like so many of us, it just felt lost.  Apparently there's a post office bar code on the back of the Priority Mail envelopes that allowed this type of detailed tracking.  Anyway, as of today the tax documentation has left New Jersey and is on its way to the Pacific Northwest.  Our CPA has remained calm throughout all of this despite my growing hysteria.  And the Post Office has hopefully come through even without snow or wind or heavy rain.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Day 30 - Unseen Miracles

Miracles are all around us.  Most of the time we either ignore them or don't see them.  Either that or we assign logical, scientific explanations to the events.  I wonder why it seems to hard to just say that a miracle happened.  Perhaps it's because we rely a lot on logical explanations.  Exclaiming an event a miracle perhaps reeks too much of mysticism or spirituality.  I'm going to go looking for daily miracles.  I'm willing to  bet that I find them.  Join me in the search.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Days 21-29 Opps Again

Is that the right count and have I missed that many days?  At least I am still aware of the days on which I write nothing.  Here's the thing.  My daughter celebrated her 40th birthday and for whatever reason that hit me hard.  I was literally speechless.  And then her husband gave a pretty big party for her and the grandkids spent the night with us.  Good times but quite distracting.  Climbing back in the saddle is never easy but at least I know how.  I've done it many, many times.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Day 20 - He Had A Dream

And fifty years ago his dreaming ended.  It ended for him.  Now it's our job to keep that dream alive even though such pursuits seem impossible right now.  He told us that, "Faith is taking the first step even when we don't see the whole staircase."  I'm going to try hard to have the faith to take the first step.  Join me.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Day 19 - Life Is Like An Old Radio

Remember those?  We had a battery powered radio.  The battery was almost as big as the radio.  Generally that radio was for our father's use.  He got up incredibly early and listened to Lyn Ingerbritsen and radio station KOY.  Lyn was clearly a guy who saw no use for stage names.  Anyway, Daddy listened to the weather reports and whatever other news Lyn felt the need to broadcast.  The weather in Phoenix seemed to have little relevance to the weather on our ranch tucked under the Mogollon Rim but nevertheless that's what Daddy got up early to hear.  During the summer he listened to Vin Scully broadcast first Brooklyn Dodger games and then later Los Angeles Dodger games.  That radio sometimes lost its station and Daddy would carefully adjust the tuning knob until he got the station back again.  Living takes a lot of adjusting, too.  It's all too easy to lose our station -- our direction.  We just have to keep turning the knob until we hear "It's time for Dodger baseball," so clearly we believe for just a second that we're in the broadcast booth next to Vin.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Day 18 - And The Snow Is Back

So here it is officially Spring and it's snowing.  This particular snow storm seems to have taken everyone by surprise despite the fact that both my mobile weather apps were screaming snow snow snow.  The streets weren't plowed and traffic stopped.  It's stopped snowing now but the weather did get in one last beautiful storm.  Yesterday I was outside taking pictures of our magnolia blossoms.  In a bit I will trudge outside, boots on, and see how many stayed on the tree.  I think the plants must be quite confused.  Oh, and yesterday I put my boots away.  This morning I took them back out.  And so it goes.  It's all very, very good.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Days 16 & 17 But Who's Counting

Oh, I'm counting.  That's right.  Preparing a Seder dinner for 20 takes a toll and a lot of time.  At least when I skip a day I now know it and feel it.  Still not quite a habit but trending that way.  Thanks for sticking with me.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Day 14/15 - Opps, Habits Are Fragile Things

At least I woke up in the middle of the night realizing I hadn't written anything yesterday.  But at least I realized it.  Instead of 30 days I will make it 31 before declaring that writing something everyday is now a habit.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Day 13- Spring Peeks Through The Snow

It's still cold and not all of the snow has melted and we might have more but Spring is pushing its way into our lives.
This appears to be crocus plants or maybe they are daffodils.
Whatever they are, they are determined to push through.
Perhaps that's the lesson for us all.
If we are determined enough we might just push through all that is slowing us down.
That's my take away from this.
Keep pushing through.
And don't forget that you are doing your best.  Just like the crocus or the daffodil.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Day 12-What If The Earth Really Is Flat?

Mike Hughes believes the world is flat and he wants to prove that he's right.  So he built himself a rocket.  Mike is 61 years old and earns his living driving a limousine. Last Saturday afternoon old Mike climbed into his rocket and blasted about 1,875 feet above the Mojave Desert in California.  He had painted on the side of his rocket the words "Flat Earth".  Traveling at about 350 miles an hour, the rocket got as high as it could go and then Hughes activated first one parachute and then the second just before he hit the ground almost exactly where he had blasted off moments before.  He shot straight up and then came back almost straight down.  His most notable comment as his gurney was lifted into the waiting ambulance was, "I'm gonna feel this tomorrow."  Hughes didn't prove that the world is flat.  He did prove something else, though.  He proved that there is absolutely no limit to our insatiable quest for adventure.  Keep reaching for the heavens, Mr. Hughes.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Day 11 - We Gave The World To Them

Having failed so often and so completely at trying to save the world, the kids took it from us.  And well they should have.  The grew up feel frightened and school and we did nothing.  Okay.  I get it that neither you nor I alone can enact legislation to make the world safer but it is our generation in Washington.  I am horrified by the corruption coming to the surface.  Doubtless it has always been there but events and circumstances have exposed it.  Having said that, I believe, truly believe, that the times they are a changing.  Sometime big is about to happen.  Something big happened yesterday and I believe bigger and better things are about to burst upon us.  We should all fasten our seat belts.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Day 10-Spending Time With Brilliance

I just spent the afternoon studying with Susannah Heschel.  Dr. Heschel is the Chair of the Judaic Studies Department at Dartmouth College.  She is brilliant.  She is also the daughter of Abraham Joshua Heschel.  Of course I wasn't studying alone with Dr. Heschel.  I attended the event at the Monmouth Reform Temple which has its own brilliance in that it is the home congregation of the first woman to be ordained a rabbi in this country.  Rabbi Sally Priesand is now the Rabbi Emerita of that congregation.  She also spent the day studying with Dr. Heschel.  History met history today and I got to be a witness.  Inspiration is a gift.  That was the gift of this afternoon.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Day 9 - Come To Find Out It Was The Storm We Expected

We awakened Thursday morning to at least a foot of snow.  All Wednesday night the snow fell.  We lost several big tree branches from the weight of the snow and briefly during the night we lost electricity. I sat in the living room drinking my coffee and gazing out at what truly had become a winter wonderland.  There is nothing as quiet as a lot of snow on the ground.  Our driveway was impassable and our street wasn't much better though later that morning the snow plows did clear the street.  In the early afternoon our snow removable crew arrived and cleared our driveway.  There is something magical about deep snow as long, of course, as you are inside a warm house looking outside at the beauty.  Already the snow is melting.  This may be it for winter.  It's always a comfort, though, to see the snow plows out.  When I lived in Southern California during brush fire season it was also a comfort seeing firetrucks headed toward the blaze.  Those plows and trucks remind us that help might very well be on the way.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Day 8 - He Died Too Young

On this day 48 years ago my father, Ira Franklin Walker, died.  He was 58 years old.  He was a cowboy.  That's how he spent his life and I'm pretty sure he loved being a cowboy.  He knew how to read the seasons and he knew how to repair saddle horns using two needles and he knew how to cure a variety of livestock maladies.  He was also an early health food devotee.  He loved trying out new healthy potions.  For quite sometime my brother and I were each given a tablespoon of black strap molasses every evening.  Daddy moved from molasses to glasses of vinegar and honey which just wasn't quite as much fun as the molasses but which Tom and I nevertheless endured with good spirits.  Cod liver oil was such a hit that our mother had to hide it from us.  Plain yogurt also frequented the dinner table.  How a man with barely a third grade education became so interested in this type of culinary exploration was beyond me.  I think he was just interested in everything.  Often he sat with me while I did my geometry homework and asked me to explain the assignment.  That my brother and I would go to college was never even discussed.  It was a given.  During my childhood we never lived in a town.  Our electricity when we had it was provided by a series of generators.  We often had to haul water not only for ourselves but more importantly for our cattle.  My father was one of the most honest people I have ever known.  He tipped his hat to women and taught me to treat all people regardless of their station in life with the utmost respect.  He also played the harmonica.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Day 7 - It's Not Quite The Storm We Expected

It is, nevertheless, a storm.  It's been snowing on and off all day and now as darkness begins to descend the snow is falling with greater intensity.  It's all good.  I try to walk at least a mile every day.  Yesterday when I walked I was stunned by the cold.  Today I delighted in the sleet hitting my face.  I wore my hat with my coat's hood pulled up over it.  I covered my mouth with my scarf and zipped up my coat.  My glasses fogged over so I had to lower them to see and I was mesmerized by the ice forming on my scarf.  These are the seasons of my life and I cherish them all.  We are supposed to get about a foot of snow tonight.  We'll see.  Maybe we will and maybe we won't.  It really doesn't matter to me.  I work from home and the traffic is rarely heavy as I walk to my second floor office.  At my desk I will spend a few moments looking out the window at our ancient locust tree and our grove of sassafras trees and winter's last snow still clinging to the ground.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Day 6-And The Snow Is Back

Indications are that the predicted big snow storm is happening.  So much for my good bye to winter.  Winter is giving me one more chance to enjoy the cold and the snow.  And I'm loving it.  Years ago I discovered that saying goodbye is often a pointless endeavor.  Someone I cared about was moving from the area.  I was devastated.  I felt I couldn't go on after I said my final farewell.  And then the friend called asking me to bring some forgotten possession to the airport.  So I did and when I left the friend I barely bothered to say goodbye because I'd already run the gamut of the farewell emotions.  Goodbye can be a really hard thing to do but once I realized that all relationships end in separation the goodbyes became a bit easier.  Joan Baez is in the middle of her fare well tours.  She says she's hanging up her concert tour days.  She's seventy seven years old so I guess I can't fault her the decision.  Her voice is lower and she says it takes too much energy to be able to sing at all.  So she's touring the world saying goodbye.  I was able to get tickets to her New York City goodbye.  I set up an alert to let me know when the tickets went on sale and then I bought them.  I never ended the alert so now I know when all of her goodbye tickets go on sale.  She has booked goodbye concerts through the year 2019.  I guess even legends have a tough time with goodbye.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Day 5-The Snow Is Beginning To Melt

During winter East Coast streets get narrower and parking spaces fewer.  No, I'm not talking about global shrinking.  It's just that plowed snow has to go someplace.  Parking lots still have small mountains of snow in many places and streets are still just a little hard to navigate because of the snow plowed to the sides of the roads.  The days, though, are getting a little warmer and soon the snow will melt.  This despite the fact that forecasts indicate we are due for one more storm which may or may not happen.  I feel a sadness with each change of season.  I will miss the snow and then I'll miss the hot, muggy days of summer and then I'll miss fall and its vibrant colors and then the snow will come again and I'll miss that when it's gone.  Seasons mark time's passage and remind me that I have more seasons behind me than ahead of me.  Having spent decades living in a season less place, I believe it is crucial to mark time's passage.  Without that marking we begin to believe we really are immortal.  Of course, we aren't but we like at times to pretend.  Seasons take away that pretense and remind us that our days are, indeed, limited.  If I really get it that my seasons are finite perhaps I will reclaim kindness and compassion and, yes, empathy.  The season for that reclamation is now.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Day 4 - I love libraries

I'm a sucker for them.  I seek them out.  Libraries calm me and inspire me and strengthen me.  One of my most pleasant surprises when we moved here four years ago was the amazing New Jersey Public Library system.  Don't get me wrong.  I loved California's libraries but they just weren't open all that often.  The New Jersey libraries are generally open seven days a week and they are always busy.  Apparently I'm not the only person here loving libraries. Don't tell anyone but I have three cards to three different libraries and I use them all.  The only drawback is that all these libraries and of course the multiple books I simply must check out keep me from reading my own books from my own library.  At least there's no competition for the books in my library.  There is also no due date by which I must return them to myself.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Day 3-They deserved a parade.

His name is Carl.  Her name is Ruth.  They are neighbors.  I met them in the Spring of 2014 a few months after we moved here and after they returned from wintering in Florida.  They are an interesting couple who married late in life after their first spouses died.  Each is well read and happy to share opinions based on their readings.  And their combined ages come close to two hundred years.  On warm days they sat in their open garage to visit and observe.  I often stopped by and always enjoyed the time I spent with them.  The winter trips to Florida ended shortly after the first ambulance came for Carl.  He came home and the garage visits resumed.  Not too long ago I realized that I hadn't seen either of them for awhile.  Of course they wouldn't have been sitting in their open garage.  It's been too cold for that.  But I hadn't seen any movement in or around their house either.  I have another neighbor who seems to know everything about everyone so I asked her about Carl and Ruth.  "Oh, they moved into assisted living," was the reply.  I felt stunned by this new information about people I never really knew well at all.  I wouldn't have expected any type of contact from them.  But they just seemed to have disappeared from a street on which they had lived for years.  I don't believe anyone should just disappear.  At the very least flyers might have been distributed saying something like, "We're off on another adventure."  A parade with a drum major and trumpets might have escorted them down the street they knew so well and maybe even to their new home.  No one should just disappear without a trace.  Their home is dark now and perhaps in the near future new owners will claim the place as their own to do with it whatever they wish.  For now, though, the home of Carl and Ruth is dark and the garage door is closed.  They deserved a parade and so did we.