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Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

Since this space is often devoted to end-of-life issues, today’s essay is offered as a new and unique perspective. And in case you need a laugh. It was written by my old and definitely unique friend Bob Dodge, a fellow supporter of End of Life Choices California. Asked for identifying bio he replied only that “the author had become delusional and cynical while standing in a local Bed, Bath & Beyond. He grants no interviews and wants to avoid being crushed by requests for TV appearances, magazine articles and the like — BUT — PBS or NPR requests will be considered. …


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Photo by Antonio DiCaterina on Unsplash

The COVID-19 pandemic, the battered democracy, the turbulence of racial and economic struggles — this is definitely the Year of Apprehension. We’ll probably all survive. Even if a lot of people continue to suffer and die and need our attention.

Given the difficulty of looking ahead, I dug into the archives for a look back. New Year blogs — and a bunch of New Year stories that pre-date the era of the blog — turn out to offer many bright spots and a little reassurance.

New Year’s 2000 — That one was fun. Remember the Y2K problem? The Millennium Bug? Computers everywhere, unequipped to deal with this new digit coming after 1999, would be crashing and burning and taking us all down with them? My husband and I actually attended a somewhat subdued New Year’s Eve dinner party at which one of the other guests was an official of a global engineering company which will remain un-named. He spent the evening with an ostentatious black box at hand — during dinner he did get it off the table and into his lap — because of mysterious dangers that might need his immediate attention at the stroke of midnight. We followed that stroke across time zones. Our highest moments of hilarity were speculating about exactly what that black box was going to do to us all when he pushed his magic button; our engineer friend was not amused. …


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Photo by Danil Aksenov on Unsplash

“Everything is not either all bad or all good,” observed my friend Oli. “There’s a little bit of good in things that are bad, and a little bit of bad in things that are good.”

This was after a discussion of how COVID-19 is affecting the entire country, in ways almost too numerous to face. Oli tends to get deeply involved in conversations of these sorts.

“For example, take pollution,” he said. “Since we’ve been staying home more, pollution has fallen dramatically.” …


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Just a star? Nooo. Jupiter & Saturn crossing paths over planet earth

It was like entering a giant cathedral, invited to a mystical once-in-a-lifetime event to which the entire world was also invited. Yet there was an intimacy unlike anything Notre Dame ever offered. On the way up — a familiar climb that bore an unfamiliar sense of impending awe — I encountered my first fellow pilgrim. She was in running clothes despite the chilly December dusk and I’d heard her swift sneakers approach. I was stopped mid-climb, though, as is somehow my regular custom on steep hills.

She stopped. “Are you OK?” I could hear her concern. “Oh, sorry,” I said. “I ran a half-marathon in 2006 myself. …


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Photo by Adi Constantin on Unsplash

City walks rock.

Parks, mountain trails, beaches, all those other walks — wonderful. But city walks are in a class by themselves. It’s just a small matter of mastering the art. It helps (IMHO) to live in San Francisco, but I suspect anyone who loves his or her city might agree: walk with your eyes and mind open, listen for the life behind the sounds, look up and down and all around, and there you have: COVID-free (masks, distancing, no problem) exercise, unique entertainment, an educational and uplifting activity of however many hours you can spare. Totally free. …


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Photo by Ani Kolleshi on Unsplash

I am a hopelessly public social being. The annoying kind who says Hi there! and Good Morning! to every passerby on the sidewalk or the park trail. Who stops perfect strangers pushing strollers to comment on cute toddlers in puffy snowsuits. At random moments I’ve been known to walk up to frazzled moms in grocery stores whose small boys are demolishing the place and say, “One day he’ll be 26 and he’ll send you flowers for no reason at all, and you’ll know it was all worth it.”

So now, along with all the rest of you, I am silenced. Who can toss out a muffled Hi there! before the passerby has long passed? Masked strangers in their faces have to be pretty scary for toddlers in strollers. Increasingly isolated from friends and family by the coronavirus itself, we’re getting more isolated from our fellow masked humans by the day. …


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Photo by joyce huis on Unsplash

Looking for a Senior Living spot for a parent or friend — maybe even for yourself? Here are a few tips to speed the process, in these upside down times when you can’t simply go visiting.

Where to start? There are almost as many varieties of Senior Living as there are seniors on park benches. Or there were, when people could go to parks. The site to which I’ve directed more geezer friends than I can count is A Place for Mom. (Why is it always mom? Well, sorry dads, but we seem to outlive you by a long shot.) …


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A couple of blocks from Union Square

There was dancing in the streets all over San Francisco on November 7th. I was walking in the Presidio, trying not to get wiped out by flying cyclists whizzing downhill shouting Biden/Harriss!!! It’s been pretty much party mode ever since.


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Al fresco images from around the city

San Franciscans are big on dining out — lunching out, breakfasting out, drinking out, all things gustatory and convivial. So COVID has not been fun. But bars and restaurants have discovered a happy workaround, and the city seems equally happy to assist.

In virtually every corner of San Francisco, outdoor tables have sprung up. They hug the storefronts on the sidewalk, they cluster on hillsides with propped-up legs to keep dishes from sliding to the pavement. They spill into the street where parking spots vanish in their wake, and if anybody’s complaining I haven’t heard about it.


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Lamott & Johns onstage, 2015

Probably most of us hate COVID-19. But when it comes to identifying the reasons why, Anne Lamott can condense them into a few very well chosen words. In this season of poorly chosen words — face masks represent “a culture of silence, slavery, and social death,” or carefully chosen no-words, if you watched the Amy Coney Barrett hearings — Lamott’s words have the effect of a lemon verbena air spray.

“I miss the recognizable world,” she says. “the casual warmth of the old world. I used to hug and kiss everyone, and you can’t hug and kiss anyone when you’re standing in your little circle. I miss hugging and kissing everyone. …

About

FranMorelandJohns

Lifelong newspaper & magazine writer, author, blogger at franjohns.net, agitator for justice, kindness & interfaith understanding.

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