Everyone knows it’s windy

I have never seen the wind, but I have felt it sweep cold into my bones, and I have seen leaves dance across the yard, and trees sway, and rain and snow fall almost horizontally. I have been comforted time and again by the melodious non-melody of our wind chimes outside my office window.

The wind is a mighty metaphor for God. I have never seen God, but I see the effects. I have seen God’s glory.

Life is too short

I have been off my game for most of the year, starting with the first week in January when Red went into the hospital the first time, and especially since Red left this world at the end of June.

I spend way too much time scrolling through social media, or as I like to call it antisocial media, but it’s a way to keep up with people I’ve known through the years, from grade school to the present day.

When I’m on my game, my informal mission has been to find words of encouragement, to entertain, and perhaps to enlighten if I can. I try to do at least one of those “E” words when I post here on the blog or on Facebook, which is the social network I inhabit most of the time.

I’ve never been able to understand why people I’ve known and respected and befriended feel the need to belittle other people’s heartfelt beliefs, be they political or religious or even a favorite movie or food. Memes get shared that distort and mock someone’s beliefs — “I could never date someone who blah blah blah,” for example.

Life is too short. That’s the message this year has slammed in my face. Life is too short to spend time antagonizing people and fighting. Does it somehow comfort you to try to humiliate someone because of their beliefs, their religion, their gender, their race, or any of the other stupid reasons for trying to humiliate someone?

Life is too short — I try to remember that before I respond to something that has insulted or angered or offended me. I try to move on, I try not to respond in kind, I try not to be as snide as those who rain condescension on people who think or believe differently than they do.

Obviously I fail sometimes, and sometimes I rise to the bait and argue with trolls.

I’m doing better, though, because, after all, life is too short.

7 O’Clock News/Silent Night

Good morning and welcome to the news. We have a remarkable list of terrible things that humans have done to each other over the last 24 hours or so, for your entertainment.

Four people were killed and several others wounded when an angry young man with a gun opened fire on a crowd of people 573 miles from here. A warning, some people may find this video disturbing, but you should look. Go ahead, you can handle it.

Here’s a conversation with the leader of a group that says the latest gun deaths are another example of why people should not be entrusted with weapons to defend themselves from personal attack.

Here in our hometown, a person got drunk and rolled her car down an embankment. She later died of her injuries at a local hospital.

Overseas, the death toll is now in the tens of thousands from that war that has been going on for nearly two years, and things are just as bleak in the new war. In Washington, debate is underway over whether the U.S. should send millions, billions or trillions of dollars worth of weaponry to the two war zones to ensure that the killing is safe, effective, ongoing, and benefits our preferred warlords.

People are homeless and starving after a natural disaster a few states over from here, and one political party is chastising the other for not voting in favor of more federal government spending in the disaster zone. The main point of contention is whether to raise the debt ceiling again to pay for it all. 

After the break, a special report about ways the government is working to protect innocent humans from the ravages that the government wrought in their lives in the first place. And folks around here are bracing for cold; we’ll tell you why.

But first, a selection of messages about magic pills that adjust the chemical composition of your body to make you healthier, wealthier, and wiser. You won’t want to miss this.

Notes from the road

• I spent the week listening to the audiobook of Michael Connelly’s new novel Resurrection Walk, featuring Lincoln Lawyer Mickey Haller and retired detective Harry Bosch. During a scene at Harry’s house, I thought I heard a reference to a three-record Miles Davis concert album from the 1960s that Bosch had purchased online  through “Rare Vinyl,” a store in Nashville.

When I circled back and looked up Rare Vinyl, it turns out to be a U.K.-based online store, and although there are quite a few great stores selling LPs in Nashville, none of them seem to be called Rare Vinyl. And finally, I can’t find a reference to a real three-record live album by Miles Davis from the 1960s.

I’m thinking I didn’t quite hear it right. But Bosch’s love of vinyl and jazz are among his most endearing traits.

• I stopped for gas, and while I was pumping a pickup truck rolled up and three guys got out. Within seconds I heard the legendary F-word about a dozen times. My hearing is about what you’d expect from a septuagenarian, so I was quickly able to fantasize that they were a party of duck hunters and Duck! They couldn’t wait to get out on the ducking lake, and duck that anyway.

It seems I am easily amused. I guess you had to be there. Duck it.

• I passed a horse trailer on Highway 22 and two big old horses were hanging their heads out the window. The big beasts looked like happy dogs loving the feel of the wind in their face. 

That’s all — I just wanted to write it down so I remembered the image, because it made me smile.

Ready or not, tis the season

I added Ebenezer to the My Books page last night, so my sequel to Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is feeling more real all the time. As always preparation for the print edition is lagging behind, but I expect to have it out there by Friday, Nov. 24, just like the ebook.

My throat developed a bit of a frog a couple of days ago, so plans to whip up an audiobook are temporarily delayed, and this is new territory for me, so I may have already missed some deadline for posting the audio version, but it ought to be out there by Christmas at least. This is my first entry into the wild world of holiday fables, and I fully expect to be lost in the deluge, but it’s fun to dip my toes into these waters.

Social media is full of memes about how awful it is to play Christmas music or put up decorations before Thanksgiving, but why the heck not? As the song says, it’s the most wonderful time of the year, so why not extend it as long as we can?

I’m all in favor of creating an atmosphere of hope, peace, and tidings of great joy, and I wish we could have it year-round like Mr. Scrooge exercised it in his later years. Of course, some songs and carols get a little old rather quickly — I’m looking at you, drummer boy — but I love to hear angels sweetly singing over the plains or merry gentlemen resting during this festive time of year.

And do we really care that it’s still two weeks before Thanksgiving? Will the world end if the baby in the manger sleeps in heavenly peace for six weeks instead of four?

I turn on the TV and see politicians wrangling with one another, and people shooting and lobbing bombs, and fear and loathing rising over the hills, and my first thought is that we need a little Christmas, right this very minute. And to argue over the point is pure humbug.

Hung up on big numbers

I find myself mentioning that I’m 70 to people at least once a day — some days it’s once per conversation. 

I think part of it is just trying to convince myself it’s true. After all, I can’t be 70 already — that means we’re in the far distant year of 2023. And it can’t be 2023, because that’s the year I’m due to turn 70.

I didn’t use to think about my age because I never felt my age, but my feelings have been catching up with the calendar the last couple of years. The difference between 68 and 69 was impressive in terms of the increase in aches and pains, but that was nothing compared with the difference between 69 and 70.

But I’m tired of bellyaching about becoming a septuagenarian before my time, so I’m going to try to stop mentioning big numbers, or at least that particular big number. I’m going to dial down my attitude — didn’t someone say 70 is the new 50? If they didn’t, they should have.

My new goal is to be the oldest middle-aged person in the world, or at least in this county. 

This time

The clock says it is an hour earlier than it was exactly 24 hours ago, and we will be forgiven if we spend an extra hour in bed today. It is the end of daylight-saving time and the return of standard time.

In my neck of the woods, the sun rose at 7:32 a.m. yesterday and will rise at 6:33 a.m. today, setting at 5:35 p.m. yesterday and 4:34 p.m. today.

I miss those summer days when the sun rose at 5 and set around 9 — daylight-saving time “rescued” us from the horror of 4 a.m. sunrises and 8 p.m. sunsets. Come to think of it, “saving” the daylight to match our circadian rhythms may not be the worst idea ever.

What if we abandoned clocks altogether? Would we be that worse off? We wouldn’t know when the train leaves or the games begin, of course — how would we manage? Or are we micromanaging our lives now? Does it really matter that the deadline is 5 p.m., or is “late this afternoon” sufficient? The hands of the clock have been holding us for so long that we’re not sure how to live without them.

Much ado revolves around being on time, but perhaps time is on us, an ever-present stressor. We live a soccer game of a life, where we have two halves to play but we’re not sure exactly when the second half will end.

Should we disconnect the clocks? Never really know what time it is? It would be a jarring change from now, when we carry a precise timepiece in our pockets synchronized to each other all the time — it was exactly 5:43 a.m. Nov. 4, 2023, when I wrote this paragraph. 

It’s quite an invention, this “time,” and we fantasize about moving back and forth through it, as if time were a real thing, but in reality it seems we only move in one direction. After all, if we could go backward, folks would already be doing so, wouldn’t they, and we would be meeting people from the future regularly? Or are the wealthiest among us gamblers equipped with a 2050 edition of Gray’s Sports Almanac?

We mark the return of “standard time” with reminders and conversations about whether daylight-saving is a good idea or a silly one. Should we stay in “standard” time forever and dispense with the manipulation? Or is the conversation itself a silly manipulation, distracting us from the fact that we are living in a remarkable time, or at least (to quote the legendary curse) an interesting time?