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It has been a static period of late – no big events, no travels, and sadly, no hikes. My wife has been enjoying helping our daughter take care of her new baby – now 2 months old and growing like crazy. I bring her over to our daughter’s house and then pick her in mid to late afternoon, usually four days a week. In between there is time to work in the yard and run errands, but not to hike – just not enough time. And that’s OK – perhaps as we sink a little deeper into autumn.

Halloween is now just 38 days away and I spend at least some time each day thinking about decorating the yard for this year’s party. My newest animatronic arrived yesterday but I gave not yet opened it to try it but it should be awesome. It is a female ghoul titled “the hauntress” who lurks behind a tree and then pops out as someone approaches. This year I hope to add more lighting – I put out more lights than usual last year and really liked the result so I plan for more this year.

My only fear for the party is the virus; while our numbers (percent positive by week) here in RI continue to drop each week, with schools back in session I fear a resurgence resulting in being unable to have many people over, much like last year. My eldest grandson is now 12 and while I am sure he’ll still want to come to our party again next year, his days of grandparent parties are likely waning. Of course he is also getting harder to “thrill” as he gets older. So I’ll try to step it up to the next level this year and see if I can’t wow him just a little bit!!

The turn towards winter continues, despite it being over 80dF today; the tree say it, the grass and plants say it, and the behavior of the animals say it as they prepare for the coming cold and darkness. And certainly the shorter days tell the tale. The departure of summer as we ease into autumn, and then winter, is an all too familiar journey I have taken through each of my years and it always evokes a certain amount of excitement along with a dollop of melancholy. It is sad to leave summer behind, although that is tempered by the knowledge that it will be back again next year. And winter brings, ironically, a certain warmth despite its inherent cold. The first night you see your breath in the air, the first fire in the woodstove, and especially that first snowfall; that is always a moment of magic.

That is one of best lessons of life, that there is a rhythm, a cycle, to life. No matter how hot the summer, you can always count on the cold of winter being just months away, and vice versa. On the darkest night, daylight is always just hours away; it is a given that we may often forget or neglect. But when you recognize it, remember that the cadence of life is always there for us – that we can depend upon it – life somehow becomes easier and more comfortable.

Picking up from where I left off almost a week ago, and still not a whole lot to report from my life! I’ve been doing some household repairs and yard work, but not a lot beyond that. My time is not really my own and while I often have little or nothing to do, I am not free to head out and hike or whatever: there is usually some need for me to drive my wife or pick up my grandkids or run to one store or another. And I am not complaining here, just explaining why I have almost nothing to write about!

I have (as you may well know) begun the ramp-up to Halloween with both in-store and online shopping. And as of today, the candy has landed in the house so the countdown has officially begun! I’ve started my Halloween task spreadsheet to keep track of what I need to get done and track orders etc. My wife’s sister’s party is Oct 16 in Maine and I will be attending for the first time ever; Teri has gone dozens of times as have my kids, but work always prevented me from going (and of course COVID was picking back up at this time last year).

Speaking of, I grabbed my booster shot today along with the annual flu shot. The vaccine has rapidly reached page one in most all social media these days, mostly focused on the “For God’s sake get the shot and help us end this pandemic” versus the “Nobody tells me what meds I put into my body” folks. Frankly, I do not understand the reluctance to take the shot; absolutely everyone (or at least 99.99%) of the people refusing it have received vaccinations throughout their entire life: small pox, measles, DPT, and dozens of others. I am quite honestly unclear on why they draw the line at this one?

I admit that I was initially hesitant when they rolled it out in the blink of an eye, and when they said it would “modify” my RNA. But it took me little more than a couple of hours researching it online to realize that the mRNA technology has been around for decades and has been actively in use helping fight and cure other diseases. And that it was NOT modifying my genes but was merely providing instructions to my RNA on how to successfully defend against the virus. Simple.

So I go the first shot, then the second, and now the third. I guess in some groups that makes me a sheep. Same sheep that uses his turn signals, stops at stop signs, wears a seat belt…. Bah-bahhhh. Whatever. I’ve forged my own path all my life, but never really lost sight of my social and civic obligations and responsibilities. It’s what I expect of any adult.

But… I am not sure how I feel about the current “jab or job” mandate. People are tired, they are frustrated, they are stressed, and they are confused. And that makes people irritable and irrational and stubborn; trying to force them to undergo a medical procedure or lose their job seems a little excessive (maybe even a lot). I would have backed this with more vigor had the choice been get the shot or take a weekly COVID test.

I mean, after all what the employers really want is a dependable work force who they know will show up every day. The virus resulted in massive worker shortages because people with caught it, were in close contact with someone who had it (at work or at school), or someone at home had it. That caused people to call out of work due to quarantines. And call outs are devastating to any business. So I fully understand the need to convince folks to dramatically increase the odds of not catching it (or not getting very sick if you do) by getting vaccinated. I am just don’t believe that forcing them to choose between their job or the shot is the right thing to do.

It is a precedent that I find worrisome. Yes, there are a myriad of rules and regulations to which we all must adhere: seat belts, driver’s licenses, auto insurance, etc. But none of them involve the forced introduction of medication. This is a whole new step into uncharted territory and could be trouble in years ahead. We didn’t do it with the 1918 flu or the Hong Kong flu. We didn’t do it with polio or with smallpox. Those shots were always voluntary – encouraged for sure but not mandatory. Troubling times indeed when it becomes a federal mandate or you will lose your employment.

I will round out this missive with some recent news: my wife and I just celebrated our 45th wedding anniversary. Yes – 45 years – that seems impossible. But it is true. And finally, after all these years, she wins. Our joke had always been that my job was my first wife; for the last 20-25 years there I was in a position that required my presence often: weekends, overnights, hurricanes, blizzards, etc. So I was literally always getting called in (or calling myself in because my computer system alarmed me). We were married close to the completion of my second year there so for my entire employment there, my years with the company were greater than the years she and I were married. But I retired after 44 years and some months; and since this year marked 45 years, we’ve now been married longer than my time with my company.

We did not celebrate traditionally; we had our grandkids sleep over Friday night and had an awesome day with them going to a corn maze. I brought them home Saturday night and we ordered takeout around 8PM and then watched movies. Sunday, we went out for an early dinner at our favorite Chinese restaurant – an oasis for us for decades. In fact, we went there for an early dinner the day I retired from work. If the weather had been better (rain for a couple of days here) I’d have booked a night or two out on the Cape. But given the weather we’ll wait a week or so.

Forty-five years is a lifetime for some people, it is a lot of time to spend with one person. And that is not easy. Marriage is hard work; it takes effort and commitment to sustaining that effort even when things are not going well. Just like the balance inherent in life, marriage has its ups and downs. And some of the lows can be really ugly, messy, and draining. But much like running, you can’t just stop when it gets hard – you keep putting one foot down in front of the other until it gets easier again (which it does).

She and I are almost diametrically opposed in pretty much everything. She is more liberal than my conservative nature, she is intuitive while I am more logical, she is effusive and bubbly and charismatic and gregarious to my quiet and reserved nature. There is no end to the list of things we’ve argued about through the years, more so lately because of the pandemic and that added stress. The fact that I am home all the time now adds fuel to the fire; when I worked I left at 4:15AM every day and often did not return home until 5:30 or even 6:30PM. And there were a whole lot of other things going on in our personal life to worry about other than gun control or climate change – things neither of us have the slightest ability to influence in any way yet we’ll still “debate” as if we’re on the floor of the senate! (Especially after a drink or two!)

Yet despite the bumps, we’ve both always kept moving forward. Forgiveness is never more than mere moments up ahead in the road because a good marriage is a treasure, and you should always protect something valuable. You don’t threaten something so precious over a stupid argument over something that is essentially meaningless in the grand scheme of things. But also, despite the petty little things we disagree with, we stand firmly together on the things that matter: values like honesty, responsibility, and especially – family. Those are principles and ideals that are deeply rooted in both of us and provide the great strength it takes to happily live with someone for almost a lifetime. No matter how differently you perceive politics, the news, current events, etc. if you have the same core values, you will grow together as a couple and will have grown roots deep enough to weather the most violent storms.

Love, of course, is a huge part of it though. Love is the motive force in a marriage. And love is manifested differently by everyone, but you always know it when you experience it. We show it a million different ways every day to our partner with little acts or deeds, with words that aren’t spoken as “I love you” but are heard as that. Sometimes we say it by saying nothing too – all veiled ways to express our love.

Enough for now – this post is late and long overdue and while not my best by a long shot, hopefully there is a tidbit embedded within it to help better understand this thing called life. Stay well dear reader!!

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  1. Andre

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