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OK, not everything about the good old days was all that good. But handwriting? For intimacy, eloquence and personal expressiveness in communication no replacement has been offered. Social media, photo apps, zoom calls all dissolve into a kind of frozen distance once you’ve taken a screenshot; but a few lines in the hand of a familiar are with you forever.

I miss cursive. I mourn the old fourth grade Locker Method exercises that drove us all nuts. I miss handwritten letters. When you got a handwritten letter you got the bona fide person, coming headlong into your heart through the…

Thanks for this good piece! I'm now a former runner (some of us slow down when we hit 80) but still a distance walker. I often re-read a first draft before I set out, and find that after a mile or two I've re-written it in my head to my satisfaction. This system doesn't lead to frequent posts, but hopefully to occasional well-thought-out essays.

Thanks for this fine piece. I knew John only through Deborah. But as the widow (two Valentine's Days back) of a contemporary tall journalist-jazz lover-polymath guy I am satisfied the two are toasting you, and this slowly improving country, with a cloud-based martini somewhere in the ethersphere. Up, with a twist.

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Blink O’fanaye/Flicker

We’ve seen this movie before:

A newly elected president is on his way to Washington to be inaugurated. The results of the election have been certified by electors in all the states, and are waiting in two boxes to be read aloud by the sitting vice president — a mere formality. But word has gotten out to thousands of Americans who vehemently oppose the new president and they are determined their candidate should be the one going to the White House. So on they come, storming toward the Capitol to take it over and reverse the outcome of the election…

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Getting my vaccination from a dancing nurse

Recently I joined the ranks of the vaccinated. A great relief for an octogenarian, which I have been for quite some time. But, as has been or will be true for most citizens, about the time I rolled my sleeve back down I was beset by other emotions: guilt, angst and a nameless fear for my fellow citizens and the country at large. Not unlike the feeling one has when walking back to a warm home for dinner on a rainy day — and passing a motionless figure huddled in a doorway.

America is facing yet another division between the…

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Photo by Willian Justen de Vasconcellos on Unsplash

There is something comforting about circles. Maybe it has to do with the hug, that lovely element of human relations that suddenly went missing about a year ago. But in these days of sharp angles and cross purposes, we all just need a little comfort; I think it might be found in circles and spheres. (Circles and spheres are conflated in this essay, literary license hereby invoked.) These are a few that give me hope & comfort for the difficult days and months ahead.

First off? Our little planet. It is somehow encouraging to reflect on how many uncounted millions…

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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…

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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…

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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…

FranMorelandJohns

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

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