Monday, August 31, 2020

stop raining on my parade

Steve owns a house in Barra de Navidad. During the recent rains that were dragged along in the wake of off-shore Tropical Storm Hernan, his house suffered no flood damage. Not even from a rumored sewage backup.

The only rain damage was from the usual ceiling cracks, and subsequent leaks, that plague Mexican homes. In this case, in his son's bedroom and in the library.

Valeria lives in a house in Jaluco. As a result of local flooding brought on by the rains, her house was completely inundated. The only visible part was a portion of her roof.

When the water receded, it left behind a thick layer of mud that was a bit reminiscent of what a box of chocolate cake mix bought on sale at a discount grocery outlet would produce. Her family has lost everything.

Most of the people here fall in the Steve category. With a bit of tinkering, their homes are in fine fettle. But there are hundreds of families and businesses who have suffered the same fate as Valeria's home.

These mud deluges are not new. There are certain areas of Villa Obregon and Melaque that have minor floods from the annual heavy summer rains. During those rains, the streets of Barra de Navidad do not flood as much as they act as conduits for sewage bubbling out of the ground.

Melaque is a bit different. Like many towns built on alluvial flood plains, a good portion of the town is built in a low trough between the highway and the beach. That trough was once part of a drainage system that fed into the largest fresh water lagoon on the west coast of Mexico.

When it rains, the system returns to its natural course -- and the houses and businesses built in its path pay the price. Think of New Orleans on a smaller scale.

In 2011 Hurricane Jova hit just north of us. The winds howled through town -- as would be expected of a type 2 hurricane. But most of Jova's destruction came from the rain it dropped. Houses were invaded by mud and water. All caused by 313.9 L/M² of rain.*

Tropical Storm Herman was far more generous. In a 36-hour period, it dumped 393.8 L/M
² on the Costalegre. As a consequence, the same areas that were flooded in 2011 were once again flooded -- but the flood covered a much wider area.

For some people, that meant the loss of everything. Bedding. Furniture. Food. Refrigerators. Stoves. And, most of all, memories and the loss of peace of mind when a home is visited by tragedy.

But, this is Mexico. And the story never ends on a sad note -- even though the best Mexican ballads do.

By the time I returned on Saturday afternoon, it was apparent on the drive in from the airport that heavy rains had had their way with the countryside. The night before I arrived, the road from the airport had been under water. Other than a few patches where the road bed had been undermined, nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

That was not true when I drove through the business center of Melaque. The streets were still mired in mud, and business owners were attempting to salvage their inventory. 

Government teams were spraying down the streets and scraping up mounds of mud** with front loaders. Other teams were clearing off the almost-foot thick mud that still encrusted the benches in the jardin.

But the bulk of the work was under way in homes. Family members gathered to help one another by shoveling and raking mud out of houses to give the bucket brigade some room to work effectively. I drove over to help Dora, the woman who helps me keep my house clean, get her home in shape. But she and her family had already done that.

And that is the lesson I learned on my journeys today and on Saturday.

I ran into my accountant on Saturday cleaning out the mess that had once been his office. He repeated what we all already knew. This was the worst flood most of us had witnessed in Melaque. But he added a coda: "And I fear it is going to get worse in the future."

He may be correct. Those businesses and houses that are built in the historical flood plain may see these types of storm-based floods with some regularity. 

If it does happen, though, I know one thing. Individual Mexicans working together will get the job done. Certainly, the government is doing its part to help. Cash disbursements are already being delivered through Banamex to those who have suffered losses.

But the road repairs, families cleaning houses, and businesses getting back on their feet have been accomplished within days of the flood -- and all done by people who, out of necessity and grit, have learned how to face what life has next on its agenda for them.

For those of my friends who still ask why I live in Mexico, I can think of no better reply. 

* -- Litres per square meter is the calculation meteorologists use to measure rain. I tried relying on my high school math to convert that reading into inches. The absence of that calculation gives you some idea how successful I was.

** -- One of the side effects of the mud is that it will long be with us. Every year when it floods, but especially after major storms, the mounds of sewer-infused mud dries out and hangs in the air along major roads for months. It is best not to think about it too much. 

Saturday, August 29, 2020

floating home

I am on my way home.

For the past month I have been in Oregon assisting my mother in moving from her house into a retirement apartment. That sounds simple -- except to the people who have participated in this rather esoteric form of torture.

Things accumulated during a 92-year life that have been stored in a house do not easily fit into a one-bedroom apartment any more than my 72-year old body can fit into my first Air Force uniform.

The analogy is not apt, though. I simply threw away my old Air Force uniforms. My brother and I did not have that luxury with our mother's life.

About ten years ago, I went through a similar exercise when my house in Salem sold. Most of my clothes, my art collection, years of correspondence, my library, my record collection, my kitchen filled with every cooking device known to man, and assorted furniture and memorabilia purchased on my travels -- all had to go. A few items went to family and friends. But most were passed either to Goodwill or the dump.

That process was simple. Because I was vetting my own life. My house in Villa Obregon was filled with what I took south in my Escape. I needed nothing more -- and, even if I needed it, there was no room for it.

Clearing without sentiment is easy if you are getting rid of your own possessions. It is not that easy when dealing with someone else's property, especially when you have shared in many of the items that need to be cleared.

Mom went into her new apartment a week ago, and is now undergoing a two-week semi-isolation. But there are still three rooms untouched that need to be triaged before the house can be placed on the market. And that needs to be done. The housing market is so hot in Bend right now that houses are selling in bidding wars within a day or two of being listed.

Then, why am I headed home? I had originally planned on being in Oregon for only three weeks. Because there was still so much work to do, I extended my stay for a week, running out of some of my medication.

I wish I could have stayed longer, but I needed to return to Barra de Navidad to take care of various financial matters and to set up Omar for his first semester of university -- now, only on-line.

And there is one more reason. Earlier in the week, Tropical Storm Hernan rolled north well off of the Mexican coast. But its influence was felt on shore when it altered weather patterns. As a result, the little villages where I live my life were hit with rain. Rains that Noah may have recognized.

Based on comments from people who are there, this is the worst flooding I have seen in the 12 years I have lived in the area. All of the usual areas that flood each summer have flooded once again -- just more so.

My house in Barra has never flooded since I owned it. That appears to have changed -- slightly. Omar reports that the sewers backed up. I am not certain if that was in the house or just in the street. Sewage in the street here is a regular summer phenomenon.

I am currently waiting in the Alaska Board Room for my flight. So far, it is scheduled to fly. Friends informed me yesterday that the road from the airport to the highway was under water. In the past, the force of that much flood water has washed out portions of the road. I can only assume that Alaska knows best on this.

So, if all goes as planned, I will be in the house with no name around 5 this afternoon. Otherwise, I will be sitting on a pile of luggage on the shores of an engorged Marabasco looking like the forlorn refugee that I will be.  

Monday, August 17, 2020

genevieve on the sea

When we last talked, Disturbance 3 was just a headline waiting to be written. It has now grown up.

On Friday, it was sitting off the northwestern coast of Panama. Yesterday, it finally developed into a full-blown tropical storm. Genevieve by name. And it will be a hurricane by this afternoon.

But the two questions we discussed on Friday are still helpful. It does not only matter that there is now a potential hurricane hanging out in the Pacific off the Pacific coast of Mexico. What is really important is where it is going to go.

NOAA has some good news for us. Based on current weather conditions, Genevieve, after turning into a hurricane today, will head off on a northwesterly trajectory paralleling the Mexican coast, but staying far out to sea. Along the way it will morph from a hurricane to a tropical storm as it passes over cooler water off the west coast of the Baja peninsula.

So far, there are no hurricane watches or warnings on the Mexican coast because the cyclone is too far from the coast. But this one bears watching -- for caution's sake.

My guess is that on-land weather patterns may be affected and you may get some wave action, but, if Genevieve stays on her predicted course, that will be about it.

You adrenalin junkies will have to seek your thrills elsewhere. 

Friday, August 14, 2020

weather competition -- round one

Good evening from your vigilant weatherman up north.

We are expecting a 101-degree day tomorrow in Prineville followed by a chilly 100 Monday and a shivering 97 Monday. But that is just heat.

Looking at the cyclone map of the eastern Pacific, the ocean appears to be alive with weather activity. And it is.

Those red and yellow blobs with their accompanying arrows look like something a football coach would draw. Fortunately for you folks still enjoying the sybaritic life of the Costalegre, there is very little likelihood that you will be pummeled like a linebacker.

The only disturbance that offers any hope of excitement is that red "X" off of the northwestern coast of Panama -- rather blandly named Disturbance 3. There is a 90% chance of "cyclonic formation" in the next five days.

Despite the image of Dorothy's house being whisked away in the first act of The Wizard of Oz," cyclonic formation" can range from a tropical depression to a tropical storm to the ever-dreaded hurricane.

But, as anyone knows who has been through this annual summer weather phenomenon, what the disturbance will become is only the first question. It is a bit like following your favorite music artist. You need to know not only that the artist is on tour, but where the artist is going to be.

Or, in the case of a cyclone, where it is going?

As you can see, the current prediction for Disturbance 3 is that it will not directly affect the Costalegre. It will most likely pass by the two or three hundred miles out to sea. But, if we are lucky, it will bring some more much-needed rain by affecting closer weather patterns. Or closer to you. Because I am still looking forward to the desert heat of central Oregon.

This briefing comes to you during a break in moving Mom into her new retirement apartment in Bend. Tomorrow, she will get the key to her front door. Darrel, Christie, and I will move over her linens, some kitchenette items, and a much-reduced collection of clothing. On Sunday, two young men will show up to move her large furniture pieces to the apartment.

Yes. Yes. Yes. I know. Choosing this weekend with its heat advisory warning may not be the best choice for lugging heavy items from her house to her new apartment. But that was the die we rolled.

I will check back in with you later in the week letting you know if I have fared better moving than you have with whatever Disturbance 3 turns into.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

vignettes of a northern visit

A friend contacted me the other day to tell me I had been far too coy about my visit to Oregon this month. All she knew was that the visit centered around my mother. Speculation ran rife.

Despite rumors to the contrary, Mom is doing fine. I am up here helping my brother put Mom's house on the market because she is moving into a retirement community in Bend -- Stone Lodge.

Over the years, Mom has been forced to downsize. Eight years ago she moved from a 4000 square foot house in Gladstone to a 1200 square foot house in Bend. Her apartment will now be half the size of her current house.

On our extended hike through life, we tend to accumulate a lot of -- to be generous -- stuff. That is especially true for Mom who has had a career as a model, owner of a motorcycle shop, vendor of home decorating pieces, and real estate agent. She gave up the last only a few years ago. With vocations come the attributes of success.

Mom has lived 92 productive years. As a result, she has the correspondence, files, and life detritus to go along with that history.

And that is where this current exercise of downsizing comes in.

A good portion of her furniture will fit into the new apartment. But there are boxes of possessions that will not make the space cut. That is what Mom, Darrel, and I have been doing. The criteria are strict and utilitarian.

1. Will she absolutely need any given item? 2. Will it fit into the apartment's space? If the answer to either question is "no," the piece must go.

That creates a pile of memory pieces that will not make the cut. We have started piling them in the garage in the hope that Dad's grandson and Mom's niece can get here before the end of the week to pick through the pile for what they consider treasures.

On Saturday, we take possession of the apartment to start testing which pieces of furniture will fit. When we are satisfied, Mom will move in and start a 14-day virus quarantine.

But there are still days of sorting before then.

Last night while she was shorting through papers from the motorcycle shop, she started to watch a Trail Blazers game. Of course, the sorting stopped.

Other than her love for God and her family, she is passionate about her favorite basketball team -- and I am not certain the Blazers do not outrank at least one of those groups. Having cable access to the Blazers games will be one of her treats -- despite the exorbitant costs.

For her, it was a nice break from the tedious task of sending memories in front of the firing squad.

There have been others. Every night we have desert sunsets made up of colors I normally do not see on the Mexican coast. The line of mountains are certainly a novel addition.

And, then, there is the wildlife. Deer. Porcupine. Rabbits. I suspect it was the latter that attracted a new sight two nights ago.

We were cleaning up the supper dishes when we heard, from the front of the house, the hooting of a bird that was so distinctive that we all recognized it. Then it stopped. Only to be resumed in back of the house.

Silhouetted against the vestiges of the sunset were two owls on top of a juniper. Great Horned Owls. A mated pair.

It was the first owls Darrel and Christie had seen on their new property. Even though they are a common bird here, I am always pleased to see them.

I would have liked to share a photograph of both owls. But, by the time, I could slide the screen door open, one fled before I could shoot. The other joined its mate almost immediately. They were off to have a bit of rabbit or porcupine tartare.

So, that is what I have been doing here in the wilds of Oregon. Big events are afoot. But not as drastic as some readers have imagined.

My return date to Mexico is still pending.


Monday, August 10, 2020

the death of a friend

News of this nature never comes at a good time.

The first message I opened this morning was from my friend, Roxane David, in Villa Obregón
. The message was brief and to the point. Her husband, Ed Gilliam, died around midnight today of a heart attack.

No life can be easily summarized in an essay. And it is even more difficult when larger-than-life personalities enter and exit our lives.

Most of us knew Ed from his art. His love was abstract expressionism, a passion he acquired while studying art at Berkeley. Art formed the core of my relationship with him. But it was not how we met.

A couple of years after I moved to Mexico, I heard about a project that caught my interest. Our area of Mexico is surrounded by farms. During the planting and harvesting seasons, migrant workers from southern Mexico come to the area with their families to work in the fields. They are primarily Mixteco.

My doctor at the time was instrumental in setting up a compound that provided housing and food for the families and schooling for the children -- schooling that would not have been available to the otherwise. I was invited to join two other men who had some responsibility for raising funds for the food. Ed was one. The other was John Alexander.

We would meet each Friday morning at Lety's, a local Mexican restaurant with the best huevos rancheros I have ever eaten, and discuss business. We also came to know each other personally. When our project was over, Ed and I continued to have breakfast each Friday morning, eventually being joined by Roxane.

The three of us added another regular date on our social calendar -- summer dinners at Magnolia's in La Manzanilla. To most people in the tourist villages where we live, simply sharing two meals a week hardly sounds like a firm friendship. But, for the three of us, it was.

Ed was a raconteur. Over breakfast and dinner he shared stories of his Navy days on an aircraft carrier, witnessing an atomic test in the south Pacific, surviving polio, witnessing the Free Speech movement at Berkeley, being an all-state hockey star in Colorado, sharing tales about his cousin Michelle Phillips and her father, and recounting his art adventures as a student in Europe. We must have talked for hours about "What is art?" and "Why is it important to the human condition?"

Certainly we had our differences. Politics. Religion. The ever-raging tension between Pascal and Descartes. But our shared love of art mortared over those inconsequential divergences. For one important reason. We tried to respect each other despite what would otherwise have been relational chasms.

A fellow blogger noted the other day that keeping a family heirloom is seldom important solely for its material value. Its true value is in the memories it triggers.

If that is true, and, to a degree, I think it is, I will daily be surrounded by memories of Ed. When Ed first saw my new house, he thought the upstairs terrace was perfect for a gallery. We tested that theory with some of his favorite works.

He was correct. The lines of my house were a perfect complement to his art.

The result? I purchased 15 or 17 of his paintings for the house with no name (the good life). The house looks as if it had been built for the paintings, and the paintings look as if they had been painted for the house.

As is true for everything in life, we never quite complete what we had attempted to accomplish. Ed had promised, as soon as the tide of the virus had ebbed, that he would touch up portions of my paintings where the sun had had too much of its way. That will not happen now.

But I have a far more mundane (and human) memory. Ed loved canned baked beans. Somewhere along the line down here, he decided to use plain beans and doctor them up to appear as if they were baked beans.

About two weeks ago, I was going to try my hand at some beanery doings. I had taken out my telephone to send a message asking Ed what he added. Something intervened, and I never asked the question. Now, I will never know.

The fact that I will not know what Ed added to his beans is not important. What is important is that I failed to have the opportunity to share another moment with my friend.

Instead, I will rely on the rich trove of memories I shared with Ed over the last twelve years.

We will miss you, Ed. 

Friday, August 07, 2020

a rift in the matrix

The house clearing continues.

But far slower than we had originally scheduled. It appears the listing date for the house may be a bit later than planned.

Dee commented the other day that part of the interruptions are caused by memories the three of us share. That is partly true. But neither Darrel nor I are very sentimental about our pasts.

This photograph is a perfect example of what would elicit nostalgic tales amongst some families. It is a booster sweater that was worn either by Darrel or me when we lived in Powers. We assume there was once a pair. The size gives you some idea that it was worn by a tyke.

I have heard from several readers about my age that their children have no interest in their parents' possessions. The fact that a bowl accompanied a great-great grandmother on the Oregon Trail seems to have no particular meaning to someone born in 1962.

I suspect that is partly due to our national habit of reinventing ourselves each generation. And it is why conservatism (in its European form) never took root here. Alexis de Tocqueville observed that, being a new country, America did not have the historical constraints of European countries.

That may be one reason we do not keep or value things whose sole value is to be the bearer of family history. In the case of the tiny sweater, neither Darrel, Mom, nor I know for certain anything about the sweater. The fact that it has suffered the moth-led slings and arrows of outrageous fortune destines it for the trash pile.

Some wag once said there are two types of people in the world. People that categorize the world into two categories and people who don't. So, I am reluctant to toss out the possibility that there are people who place great value in family heirlooms and there are those who see them as dust collectors.

If you are in the latter category, you are welcome to join our tossing task. If you are in the former category, there are piles to be pawed.

But probably not the sweater.


Monday, August 03, 2020

my magic kingdom

I have sunk in a sea of nostalgia.

When I moved to Mexico in early 2009, I had not yet sold my house in Salem. I had hoped that, with time, the housing market would increase and that I would be able to recover the money I had invested in the house. Instead, it turned into a money pit where I was going further into the red at almost $2,000 per month. So, I decided to put the house on the market.

That decision was well-timed. The house sold the first day on the market. With a rapid-set closing date, I had two weeks to sift through the life accretions of 60 years. It was not a task well-suited for the sentimental. And I was fine with that. I am not a sentimental guy.

I triaged my possessions into piles. The largest was destined for the shredder or the dump. The second largest went to Goodwill. I gave my art collection to my nephew and sold my piano to my good friend Pat Murray -- for her daughter and her grandson. (You met them when they visited me in Barra de Navidad.) A few items were stored with my Mom and brother in Bend -- for transport to my new house in Mexico.

The operation was brutal and efficient. I cannot think of anything I gave away that I now regret not having in Mexico.

My brother, mother, and I are now indulged in another task. We need to get her house on the market by 15 August. That now gives us 11 days to sift through almost a century of accumulated possessions.

Darrel and I were making great headway this morning until we hit a mother lode (so to speak) of personal nostalgia. You may have already guessed what caused the sorting to stop for a moment.

In 1955 (by one version; 1956 has its advocates), Darrel, Mom, and I accompanied my Dad's cousin and her two daughters to Disneyland. If it was 1955, it would have been the year the park opened. Either way, it was certainly a different world. The price for a BIG 10 BOOK was $2.00, and included tickets graded from A to the much-lauded E.

There is even one ticket left in the packet. That probably occurred when Mom left the two of us (then aged 4 and 6) on Tom Sawyer Island on our own. We were small-town folk. And what could have been a better place to spend a large part of day than a place that celebrated the Great American Myth of Youth? Both of us remember that as the best part of our visit to Disneyland.

Here is the rub. If we keep wandering down nostalgia lane, we are going to end up in a cul-de-sac with a house going on the market littered with strata of sentimentality. And, as hard as it is, we need to steel ourselves to the task we have been assigned.

Tomorrow, with hatchets in hand, we will hew our way through as much of our history as we can. Much of it will simply have to go.  

Sunday, August 02, 2020

plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

It is Sunday morning, and I am sitting in the Board Room (Alaska Airline's lounge) in Los Angeles.

People have told me that the flying experience has drastically changed. It hasn't.

It is true that the usual crowds are gone. Understandably. That was apparent in the departure area in Manzanillo. I did not count passengers, but the airplane was less than half full.

That does concern me. Alaska cannot even break even on the Los Angeles-Manzanillo with that few passengers. If Alaska cancels the flight in the future, it will present problems for passengers flying up and down the Pacific coastline.

Other than the open seats, the flight was normal. Of course, there were a few changes. Crew and passengers were masked. The only exception was when drinks and snacks arrived. The usual hot meal has been replaced with a large basket of chip choices. (That was not a change for me. I always bring my own meal and dishes.)

For me, the only noticeable change was the absence of the in-flight magazine. Not that I am enthralled with puff pieces. You know the type. "10 Hot Night Spots in Puerto Vallarta Without Straights."

No in-flight magazine meant no crossword puzzle. The puzzles in these magazines are not very challenging. Over the years, I have set a challenge for myself. I must complete the puzzle before the airplane gets to rotate speed.

The bemasked flight attendant told me the magazines were removed in March because people touch them and return them to the seat pocket. That made sense. Until I noticed the two safety cards are still in the pockets, and we were invited to take them out and follow along with the safety briefing.

In reality, no one does. I suspect those cards have remained untouched with the exception of aviation enthusiasts who love soaking in any trivia associated with their flight.

But that was about it. Before checking in, the passengers were required to fill out a coronavirus form attesting they were healthy. To my surprise, the form was returned. Mine is now in a trash can at the Embassy Suites.

Oh, yes, our temperatures were taken by one of those thermometers that look exactly like the type of video camera your Uncle Mike owned during the 1990s. Almost everyone smiled. (And temperatures were being taken of arriving passengers before they could enter the Immigration hall.)

What was extremely different was Los Angeles International Airport. The entire flight was through Immigration before my Homeland Security meeting was completed. My luggage was waiting for me, and I was through Customs in two more minutes. It was like arriving at a regional airport in Iowa.

This morning, after checking in a bit early for my flight, I was the only person in the security line. Let that sink in. On a weekend day in the past, that line can often take up to an hour to traverse. Even though I have had dreams of short security lines, this one felt weird -- as if I were about to run into Rod Serling around the corner.

So, here I sit in the Alaska lounge as almost the only customer. That is just as well because the food on offer is restricted to items that could be purchased at any Seven-Eleven. If I get hungry, the concourse food vendors are still operating, but the food must be taken away to eat. Their seating areas are taped off. So, people get their meal and then go sit cheek by jowl in the boarding areas.

In just over an hour I will board another lightly-populated flight. This time to Redmond, Oregon where another adventure awaits me.

As for the travel changes, they are not too noticeable. But that may be because we have been living our lives as hobbits since March.

I must confess that the flight has been good for me. I almost feel like a dog that has spent far too much of his recent life on a leash. I am howling at the moon.

Saturday, August 01, 2020

where our paths cross

I am having one of those "morning afters."

Not a hangover; I do not drink alcohol. But something similar. Let's call it a Facebook hangover.

Last evening, I read a post on one of our local Facebook pages about a young man (whose name and photograph were included in the post). The woman who posted informed us he was seeking money for his hospitalized baby. She then identified him as "a thief" and "a drug addict" with the tag line "DO NOT GIVE HIM ANYTHING."

I usually do not react to posts like that. But, this time, I broke my rule because I have known the young man for years, and I have been working with him to help him deal with his particular demons.

What set me off were the terms "a thief" and "a drug addict." There is no doubt that the terms have some basis in fact. He has indulged in both activities. But they are not the sum of who he is. What he is is a person who has the same needs as the rest of us.

Now, I know those terms can be descriptive, but they are also a bit de-humanizing. Just this week another woman I know called the person who killed Marlene "an animal."

Labels like that are exactly the mindset that allows us to hate people who are not like us. They confuse the activity with who the person is, and they subsequently act as the breeding ground for animosity between races. In their extreme form, they call out, to use Whittaker Chambers's devastating phrase: "To the gas chambers, go."

That is exactly how I was feeling last night when I wrote a comment that had the veneer of reasonableness, but seethed with the emotions of resentment and judgment.

I wrote: "Even people with addictions need compassion." I then cited Jesus' description of a personality trait based on his teachings.

The whole thing set off something of a firestorm. Certainly, more than I thought it would.

Here is the rub. I do not regret my comment. I do regret that I responded to the tone of judgmentalism with an even greater measure of judgmentalism. In my case, it was pure hypocrisy.

About two months ago, ironically while we were discussing the lack of grace in the world at church, a friend commented that the same young man had come to her door with the sick baby tale. I had just been talking with the young man on the prior Friday, taking his mood on seeking treatment.

My response to her question about what she should do? "Don't give him anything. He is a drug addict who is manipulating you with his baby."

I have no doubt why I reacted the way I did yesterday on Facebook. I could hear my own voice denying grace. Peter could not have felt more ashamed when he denied the Messiah.

I learned long ago that I can easily see the failings in other people because they are my same failings. And I need to listen to that voice of grace more often.

The combination of Marlene's death and covid19 (plus an outbreak of several other activities we do not need to discuss here in detail) has cast a certain pall over the local community. That is why it is so important that we find that bit of grace -- that bit of kindness -- to share with one another.

Each of us is on a separate pilgrimage in life. But, when we come together on our paths, offering a hand of fellowship will improve the lives of both the giver and the recipient. It is something I need to work on every day. And, at which, I often fail.

Maybe I could start my new path by not posting comments on Facebook during the night.

I am off to Oregon this afternoon, but I wish you all well wherever you are.