Tea, Tears, and Tradition…or a Very Decent and British Event

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I spent the week between Prince Philip’s passage and the funeral watching unhealthy–well, some might judge it as such–amounts of videos about the British monarchy on YouTube. Check out the ones by Darren McGrady, former chef to the Queen, for some fun and non-toxic tidbits about the Royals, both two- and four-legged ones (like favorite foods, cooking for the Corgis, him getting chased down the hall by said Corgis, those sorts of things). In addition to the heavy days marking time between the passing and the funeral, that week also brought a round of automotive growth experiences*, the start of Hubby doing his yearly month of religious fasting, and another frantic run to the vets’ to get Oakley a refill on his IBS medication.

Maybe binge-watching royal gossip videos is not that unhealthy a choice if it kept me from stabbing anyone or away from mood-altering substances. Especially when the algorithms kindly toss in Monty Python clips, especially the ones of Graham Chapman in his Army uniform popping out of the woodwork to end skits with an announcement that it was getting too silly and to move on to something decent and British.

In a way, I had hoped that he would come out of nowhere and do the same in real life, but the Prince’s death was too real, and not silly at all. Nor were the plans as they unfolded.

So on the morning of 17/4/21 with mug in hand, scone on plate, and Oakley at my side, I watched Prince Philip’s funeral while seated on my comfy sofa. Like we who were in northern Illinois that day, the Mountbatten-Windsors had cold but sunny weather for the ceremony, making the short walk for the relatives following the coffin from the residence to St. George’s Chapel not too uncomfortable.

By royal standards, the service proved to be quite simple. The liturgy was the basic Anglican order for funerals. While they still had military units with some tie to him participating in the sendoff, HRH had requested that no eulogy or sermon be given, and had told the Queen to just chuck him in the back of a Land Rover (in this case, one tricked out with an EV motor) when the time came to send him off to the Great Beyond.

His wishes for a relatively austere sendoff were honored. Mostly because he’d planned them out in advance, like the EV Land Rover; a few were due to pandemic protocols. Only 30 family members could attend and had to follow distancing guidelines, leading to the attendees sitting in household bubbles. William and Kate here. Harry over there. Edward and Sophie and their kids there. Anne and Charles with their respective spouses as well. And the other grandchildren along with nephews from over on the Continent were there. I will save my judgmental rants about Andrew for another time.

That lead to the Queen sitting by herself. Couldn’t share the pew with anyone. Couldn’t even bring one of her dogs into St. George’s for support.

Alone. For the first time in 73 years without the man she’d described as “my strength and my stay.” I’d like to think Philip in spirit form was sitting with her. But in common reality she just looked so small (she’s not that tall to begin with, under 5’4**) and bowed by grief and alone in her huge black hat and dress seated by herself in that huge cavernous chapel where Harry and Meghan were married a couple of years ago.

I discreetly dabbed my eyes. I cannot imagine.

I hope that the Queen found a measure of comfort in the beauty of the music and knowing that she was in the hearts of many around the world.

NBC’s coverage kept the play-by-plays limited to before and after the service, and had the courtesy to cut to the bagpiper playing a traditional Scottish mourning song while Prince Philip’s coffin was lowered to the vault below the chapel. Then came the benediction, and the Queen departing in her car while the other mourners walked back to the residence.

The pictures of her sitting alone were all over the internet. One of my friends tagged me on a post with that picture and a beautiful poem about her really not being alone because Philip would always be with her. (Thank you, Claudia….)

So now comes a brief period of formal mourning for the family, until this coming Saturday (24/4/21), I think. At that time, they will pick up and carry on with royal duties. They already have done so, with Charles and the Queen and I think Anne making appearances at some low-key events.

And maybe I will quit expecting Graham Chapman’s uniformed alter ego to pop up and say “Now THAT was decent AND British!”

Indeed it was.

*We gave up and bought a new car. More on that later.

**Fun random fact: Because she’s on the small side, Her Majesty wears a lot of bright colors when she makes public appearances so her security detail can keep better tabs on her.

Initiation

Throughout time, societies have held rites of passage to acknowledge passages into life stages or into service to the tribe or becoming a spiritual leader. In general, they have a community gathering, some kind of a ritual that may or may not involve mood altering substances or pain, and then emerging on the other side into the new role in the community.

Maybe I’m making too much of it, but it felt kind of like that when I had my COVID vaccine this past Thursday. The Johnson and Johnson one-and-done. Since I am the queen of all side effects (Hubby is too much the gentleman to tell you about the time I was on Vicodan after a procedure and it made me think that Jerry Springer explained everything, so I will), it was my vaccine of preference.

I arrived at the site about a half hour early. The health department had set up camp in an office building recently purchased as the new city hall. Park, follow the lines around the building. Follow the person directing foot traffic with her clipboard. “If you’re here for your second shot, please go to the second floor. First shot people, this way. You’re getting the Johnson and Johnson vaccine today!”

My relief and joy over finally getting the vaccine of my choice combined with everyone else’s made it feel a margarita machine and Lady Gaga playlist away from a party as the line snaked towards the check in station.

Show ID and email with QR code. Go this way. Go that way. Take a seat at the station with nurse in the bright purple top. Scan the code again; verify identity; swab arm, and poke! All done; here’s your card. Wait in your car for 15 minutes to make sure you don’t have a reaction and have a great day.

My arm felt tingly, but it was OK. I made phone calls, went home, ordered and picked up lunch from a local takeout place to celebrate.

The side effects crept up that afternoon. Mostly fatigue, a nagging slight headache. Later that night, I did have some minor chills. Friday I was fatigued and headachy, but it started dissipating late afternoon.

I slept the sleep of the just, the dead, or the just plain dead last night. Oakley began pacing and dramatically flopping onto the floor about 6:30 to let me know that it was breakfast o’clock, otherwise I would have slept longer.

And now I hang out in the liminal space while the vaccine does its job in the next two weeks. I will be protected, but will not be reckless–I’ll continue to to keep my distance from the maskless wonders and will mask up until Dr. Fauci says otherwise. I will continue to wash my hands like Lady Macbeth. And keep social distance.

But in two weeks, barring another surge, I can get my hair cut. I can go back to in-person yoga. I can go to the store without wondering if I’m going to die from it, even if I go directly after the time reserved for seniors and special concern shoppers.

I didn’t glean any insights from the dance with the side effects, but I do know that it will be great to mask up and join the world at large. And that it should never be taken for granted again.

Notes to My Younger Self

two adult women beside each other
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Here I sit, about a month give or take before my next birthday. It doesn’t end with a five or a zero, but it is significant for an astrological reason. It’s the end of my Saturn return 

What is a Saturn return? Astronomically, Saturn takes about 28 years to complete an orbit around the sun. Astrologically, it returns to the sign where it resided when you were born and sits there for a couple of years. Saturn has to do with all things involved with being an adult. It has to do with taking responsibility for your life choices while forgiving yourself for past failures and mistakes. And death, not necessarily your own, but that of people you’ve cared about, and what no longer serves you. 

In the throes of my first one, I completed my master’s degree, had a “normal” job. My father and maternal grandma went on to the next life within six months of each other. I realized that the job wasn’t right for me, and began living an artist’s life. 

As I wrap up my second one, there are many regrets that I wish that I could rectify. Not Oakley and Orion, never ever. Before them. I wish I could advise my younger self about boundaries (it is OK to say no to positions in groups; it is OK to leave circumstances that sap your soul). Your dreams are yours. Do not change them to appease and placate others.  I wish I could tell her that the relationship advice in magazines like “Cosmopolitan” is not healthy and actually is pretty detrimental. Career wise, it is OK to have an honorable job that supports you, even if it’s not what you were expected to do by your parents and other influences. And that the tremendous pressure about attending church, especially the one she went to in order to appease her family, is not about grace and salvation as much as money and controlling women. That she is her own best authority on her body and to listen to it, and listen to it well, especially in matters of what truly nourishes her and the size her genes dictates. Most of all, it is fine to be single, and if the guy in question does anything to cause discomfort, it is OK to take off in the other direction. 

And now I look to the future. The adulting has to do with accepting and preparing for my next return by making sure I have a will and related paperwork in order and managing finances to secure my later years. 

Once done, it’s time to create and play.

And develop a new set of dreams. 

 

 

 

Welcoming September

autumn forest near calm clear pond
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After an interminable string of hot, humid days, the weather gently cracked Monday night. Off and on showers and light silvery storms popped up yesterday to open the first day of meteorological autumn.

Astronomical autumn doesn’t start until the 21st or 22nd. That’s fine. My head and heart have already switched into fall mode way ahead of the curve. The transition starts when the very first faint tinges of gold and scarlet rim the edges of the leaves and the acorns begin to drop. Then a bare handful of leaves in full fall colors drift to the ground on the soft wind. Next come the geese honking their way into flocks, just a couple here and there, gradually  increasing in numbers as they find their places in the V-shaped formation gliding across the sky.

And then noticing that the lights need to go on earlier, and a little earlier the next night, and stay on a little later the next morning.

As the days grow shorter, this not-so-young woman’s fancy turns to thoughts of comfort food. Two recipes I want to try this fall are risotto–I’ve never made it but have wanted to do so–and  two new soups. One is Finnish salmon soup which kind of resembles chowder; the other is plokkfisker, a potato and fish dish from Iceland that looks like chowder on steroids. I will report on the results.

Books are a necessity any time of year, but more so in the months where a person needs to gather by the hearth. I started rereading The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley over the weekend. Ms. Bradley retold the Arthurian legends from the point of view of the female characters.  It weighs in at over 700 pages and a couple of pounds, but worth the time and (physical) effort. In addition, I have a couple of cookbooks requested for my birthday next month, Mimi Thorrisson’s newest, Old World Italian, and The Nordic Cookbook by Magnus Nilsson. I’ll review them after I play with them.

In the mean time, there are preparations to be made. Blankets? Check. Go through the pantry and freezer to inventory what we have and what we need? Check. Get outside and enjoy it while we can before the really cold weather sets in? Check.

Bring it. I’m ready.

 

 

In Praise of Normal Days

a brown barn close to the river under cloudy skies and snow covered grounds in winter
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Forgive my unintended sabbatical, Gentle Readers. Hubby, Oakley, and I have been enjoying an extended stretch of normal days. You know the kind, the ones that unfold according to routine where you get up, do your work, walk Oakley, watch maybe a bit too much TV (such as impeachment hearings), perhaps lunch with a friend.

The good kind of normal, like really high end vanilla ice cream, the slightly off white with the seeds speckling it. On its own, it’s great, but it’s able to provide a backdrop for hot fudge or strawberries if those are available as well as supporting a swirl of whipped cream.

We give thanks for the basics right now be they vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry.  We have the pantry stocked for the winter with human and canine food. No outstanding bills loom over us; no human or canine health crises or passages to the great beyond disturb our peace. The vehicles declared their suicide pact null and void. None of them have acted up since my VW’s last trip to the dealer’s just after Labor Day.

Outdoors, the garden was prepped for next spring with layers of cardboard and mulch. One of my friends who is an experienced, wise gardener suggested that as a last ditch effort to rid the bed of the rogue mesclun mix and seeds in the compost that hadn’t cooked properly. Just poke holes with a spade, add the plants, and voila, instant garden this May.

Indoors, I’ve been decluttering. How two people and a total of two dogs can crap up a house like this is beyond me. Not purging the knickknacks and books so much as the piles of junk like boxes that we didn’t know what to do with, so we put them in the dining room until we could figure out the best course of action. Then they decided to use it as a breeding ground. I passed those on to a couple of friends who have an Etsy shop. Or the bags of hoarded inanities and old clothes that I piled into my car for their ride  to a donation center. I was a little surprised that I didn’t get a flyer with information about opening my own Goodwill franchise.

We have opened some space. What it will be filled with remains to be seen, but we welcome the good and normal.

 

 

The Automotive Report for 9/16/19

blue sedan
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We started shopping for a new car Labor Day weekend. We have our eye on a sea glass pearl (light teal) Prius with all wheel drive. I didn’t go for a test drive, but I did sit in one, and it felt as if she was giving me a little hug.

We are overdue for one, and wanted to make an informed, rational decision unlike other car purchases we’ve made in the past. Like when my Chevette dropped pieces of the engine while I was driving. Or when the Pulsar’s timing belt broke, again while I was driving. Or mice eating the Thunderbird’s electrical system. There was the day when I closed the door on the Sentra and a chunk the size of my hand sheared off and turned to dust when it hit the ground. And who can forget the front end of the Crown Vic getting obliterated by the deer who ran in front of it, the turned around and ran in front of it again?

Between the two of us, we have three old vehicles. Just old. Not at an age where they could be considered vintage. Just…old.

However, they are paid for.  Neither of us like going into debt, so we pay cash when we can. That’s why we own a ’95 Corolla that  Hubby inherited from his mother. It could likely survive an episode of “Game of Thrones.”

A ’93 Ford F-150 that Hubby uses for hauling wood and other materials. It has the most comfortable seats and a ride better than some luxury cars I’ve been in.

And an ’03 GTI, my primary vehicle.  With a “T” as in “turbo.”  As in I wonder if energy streams come out of the back end as they do from the Enterprise in the opening credits of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” when I hit the gas.  The sound system still works. She handles well in adverse weather, so I can ask for little else.

Old they may be, however, they’re all paid for, so that’s a plus.

This month the three of them formulated and tried to follow through on what looked like a suicide pact.

The F-150 started it. While Hubby drove home, the brake lines went out on him. He arrived safely by some act of grace. The dealer managed to get the parts, get it fixed, and retuned it to the road.

That being done, attention turned to the power steering on the Corolla. Just needed a little fluid and a bit of adjusting. She came back to her usual self for a few days until her brakes and fuel lines started acting up. Hubby took her to several repair shops, but no one was willing to touch it. He decided to do it himself. Right now, she’s in several pieces in the garage.

Then the GTI’s electrical system decided to flake out. First, the gas gauge thought it would be funny to bottom out at random, even just after I’d filled up. One trip to the dealer about an hour away.

Next, she began being balky about starting and stalled as I turned into the driveway. They replaced three electrical relays. OK. All is good. She took us to and from the last Ren Faire of the season without issue, a 180-mile round trip.

And then the next day, she started acting up again. And stalled on me in traffic. With a semi coming down the road behind me. Thanks be to whatever benevolent forces which started the car and saw me home that day. Hubby took it in; they replaced an engine speed sensor. She’s been fine since then.

For how long, we don’t know. But we do know what we want, and won’t need to scramble to figure out our next vehicle.

 

Fourteen Pills

Image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

I held the small bottle of pills in my hand. Fourteen pills. One twice a day for seven days. “May this be for the best and highest,” I stated before taking the first one.

Thirteen pills.

Since when, March, maybe even late February, I’d been eating echinacea, cranberry juice capsules, uva ursi, and olive leaf extract for a bladder infection that just wouldn’t go away.  Oh, it would calm down for a couple of weeks, then would drag me out of a sound sleep too many nights in a row with urgent trips to the bathroom.

I just need to take more of this; I just need to have a good night’s sleep; I just need not to drink this or that and it will take care of itself. I chanted that litany to myself and to Hubby.

Twelve.

The last couple of weeks found me feeling as if I were coming down with the flu, going into the fatigue, the aches, a bit of a chill, then it would go away. I’d feel better, then it would come back.

No, I don’t want to go to urgent care. I know they’re OK with us paying by credit card since we don’t have insurance right now* but I just need to figure out the right combination of herbs and homeopathy.

Eleven.

No, really, I just need to double up on this and….

You know I don’t like doctors.**

Ten.

Oh, I just have a middle aged lady bladder. Really, i just have to do this and that and no, I don’t because I don’t want to find out I’m diabetic right now.

Nine.

Woke up feeling as if I were coming down with the flu again, plus had a cramping sensation so intense that I feared that my periods were coming back on line. I dug through the drawers in the powder room. Found the thermometer, an old glass one that I think we bought when we first were married. Washed it very well. Popped it in my mouth, held it for a three minute eternity.

Eight.

Yep. Elevated temperature. Couldn’t tell how much, but it was elevated. Very well. Now what do I do?

Seven.

Went to Dr. Weil’s website. You will need antibiotics. Period. End of quotation. Not much to be done from a supplement and nutrition standpoint.

OK, what would I do if this were Oakley? I would have taken him in much sooner. He doesn’t have insurance, but that’s not an issue. So, even though we can pay for our doctor visits out of pocket, thank The Mystery, why am I doing this to myself?

Six.

Oh, let’s see…arrogance, fear, a total lack of self respect and esteem, maybe? Will wrestle with that in my journal later.

But for now, take Oakley to day care and proceeded to urgent care.

No insurance? OK, we just need you to pay a deposit. Have a seat.

Five.

The nurse gave me the bag with the plastic cup, wipes, and a lid, then pointed me to the rest room. A far cry from childhood samples caught in a baby food jar.

That completed, the nurse practitioner came in, gave me a once over and asked all the questions: how long had this been going on, pain levels, and any allergies they needed to know about. No judgement, no shaming, nothing but gentle care. OK, we’ll call in a prescription for an antibiotic to the pharmacy across the street.

Four.

Went to the pharmacy. Browsed while I waited. Bounced back and forth between keto and vegan magazines until the headache took hold. Prescription filled, not as much as I feared, plus the pharmacy tech found a couple of coupon codes after I told her we didn’t have insurance.

Three.

Went home, set intention that the pills be for the best and highest. Had a snack (the nurse practitioner explained that it would upset my stomach otherwise), and took the first pill.

Two.

Time to pick Oakley up. Started feeling better on the way home.

One.

I slept through the night.

I’m back.

 

 

*When Hubby was pushed into retirement four years ago, he just took a lump sum without benefits. The company that bought the one where he’d worked for over 35 years is notoriously unkind to retirees. They offered us a COBRA plan for $2K a month. We tried going through the ACA, but kept getting calls and letters requesting more information and more copies of his W2 and 1040s for his last couple of years. We withdrew after three months of fighting with them.

**Long story about why I look askance at anyone in a white coat that goes far beyond the scope of this entry.

The Garden and Tech Reports for 6.19.19

 

agriculture basket beets bokeh
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And finally a couple of weeks ago, the clouds parted and the sun came out, drying out the garden bed soil enough to plant a few tomatoes and herbs.

First I had to dig out about two inches of soil to get rid of the mesclun mix that had taken over the bed. Had I not done that, I would still be pulling it out by hand. Sprinkled in some dried chicken manure to replenish it, then poked holes for the lavender, parsley, sweet and Thai basils, and tomatoes. Three red ones, one golden, and one cherry (cherry is small and red, so we have a double count with it). Two of the tomatoes have set blossoms. The lavender blossoms opened to graciously share their fragrance with us and the bees. Now all I need to do is water as needed, pull a couple of weeds now and then, and wait.

The tech issues were a little more complicated. Sometime in the wee smalls of Monday morning, the modem that had served us well by keeping us connected to the outside world via the DSL line installed in 2002 if I remember correctly, joined the choir invisible, ceased to exist, etc. It became an ex-modem.

Usually, Hubby deals with tech issues while I make a cake. He was out of town. I called him to let him know what was going on and to please call my cell phone (our “landline” is actually a VOIP* system).

Now, bearing in mind that he was a telecomm engineer** for 35 years, he began rapid-fire troubleshooting questions, some of which I could answer (no, no adverse weather; yes, I did the unplug/plug thing; what’s wrong with it is that I can’t get connectivity, period).

“You’ll have to call support.”

I have to call support. I’d rather go to the dentist and gynecologist at the same time, thank you very much. And have them trade ends.

Not having much choice, I sucked it up and called. The human rep I spoke with after negotiating the queue was kind and friendly and helpful. He talked me through the steps of rebooting, and then…

And then with no warning, the power went out.

Rep asked when I thought the power would be back. I guessed about two hours. He or his supervisor would call me back then. OK, thanks.

And then my text chime went off several times. Hubby had tried to call, but kept getting the “all circuits are busy” message. What is going on? Did the tower go out?

I refrained from replying, “How the hell should I know?” I just called him, told him that there had been a power failure in the middle of the call to the support center, and that I needed to call Com Ed.

Com Ed didn’t know what was going on, either. I submitted an automated report.

Another call from Hubby. No, dear, I don’t know what happened to the power.

At this time, the muscles around my left eye started getting twinge-y. Went to the powder room where we keep the over the counter meds in search of something to take to keep the twitches and twinges from blossoming into a full blown cluster headache. I was out of my preferred pain killer. Great.

Breathing my way through the discomfort, I called Com Ed for an update. Very small, localized outage due to an equipment failure. If this was the transformer that I think it was and if anyone from Com Ed read this, we told you so.

The text chime dinged several more times. Updates from Com Ed, and forwarded texts from Hubby that he’d received from them.

Confirmed that I’d received them. Tried to sit quietly. Tried to visualize the tight muscles giving me the headache unwinding.

And with a flurry of beeps and chirps, the power made a triumphant return.

Now to wait for the ISP rep to call back.

And wait.

And update Hubby, who reminded me that the call center closed at five and the odds were that they wouldn’t call back. And wait.

No call. Five o’clock rapidly approached.

I called again. Negotiated the queue, ran through the paces with another pleasant rep. Yep. Sounds like a dead modem. We’ll get someone out tomorrow. Thank you.

Called Hubby for another update. Another round of troubleshooting questions (yes, they ran tests; no, I don’t know which ones; the guy will be here between eight and noon; African or European?)

Done with technology for the day, I walked Oakley. I ate ice cream for dinner. I had a salad or something to mitigate the ice cream, but I ate it while I stared off into space.

At least I slept OK that night. The tech arrived at the end of the time frame I’d requested, but he quietly and efficiently did his job, bringing us a new modem that brought us up to speed, literally and figuratively.

For now, we are able to do what we need to online, but hopefully we won’t take 20 years for the next upgrade.

 

* stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol. Same as calling on an actual landline, but over the internet.

**who worked on one of the rudimentary forms of the internet in the days of our courtship.

The Springing of Spring

 

depth of field photography of tulip flowers
Photo by Vural Yavas on Pexels.com

The weather finally decided to warm up and act like spring here in the soybean field. The final measurable snow fell a couple of weeks ago and yielded four inches of slop. We stayed inside, needless to say.

Except for that day, we’ve been able to resume walks with our friends on weekend mornings. Oakley and Bonnie Blue read and respond to the social media posts left by other dogs as we meander the riverside trail connecting two parks, the one where we meet and the one that’s our turnaround point. It’s not a long walk nor is it a strenuous one, but it’s good friend hangout time for us as well as the pups.

Here at home, the first task outdoors will be cleaning out the raised garden bed. I still have a couple of weeks before I can plant this year’s crops, but remnants of the rogue lettuce and other plants I don’t recall inserting into the soil last year need to be pulled before that happens.

It is good to have that to look forward to. It’s good to participate in the cycle of life, of growth. In the last weeks, I had yet another passage to process. The husband of a close friend (and a friend in his own right) made his journey to the Other Side a couple of weeks ago. He had Parkinson’s. It wasn’t a battle, nor a journey during the 10 or 12 years of living with it. It just was a part of their lives. Until the last couple of weeks he was still engaged, curious, and did his best to follow the tango steps from his wheelchair as my friend and their teacher danced during a visit. Not long after that he just started the quiet drift to the distant shore. It was peaceful, comfortable, and full of grace. His funeral and interment will be next week.

For now, we get ready to go on.

 

 

The Year of Quiet Optimism

 

 

snow covered pine trees at daytime
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We started 2019 in the soybean field not with horns and confetti but with deep sighs of relief. Oakley, Hubby and I are healthy for the most part. My sister and her husband (who had quadruple bypass surgery back in September) were able to make the trip from Michigan for the holiday gathering at our brother’s. We have the basics and enough to share. We are truly grateful.

On New Year’s Eve we went to Trader Joe’s, then to our favorite Indian restaurant for tandoori chicken and a dessert that’s like a cross between carrot cake and pudding. We went home and pulled in the day behind us, choosing to stay off the roads. The combination of unrelenting rain, impaired drivers, and cops looking to meet the year end ticket quota put a damper on evening celebrations for us. We finished the day by watching Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett perform selections from the American standard songbook followed by Renee Fleming sing opera and jazz with the New York Philharmonic on PBS. We made it all the way up to 10, then retired. I listened to the big band dance party on WDCB, a local public station that specializes in jazz, blues, folk, and runs a four-hour block of shows from the golden age of radio on Saturday afternoons. A touch of old school tasteful glamor provided a pleasant end to the holiday. Except for the midnight  interruption by the neighbors who observed the coming of 2019 by bringing out the heavy artillery, all was calm.

We woke to a mud-colored sky that spit snow and rain by turns. In spite of that, a sense of peace, of hope settled around me. Relief that 2018 had passed, and that the time to pick up and go on had arrived.

In the smaller, more personal world, the relief was akin to feeling as if I’d pulled into the garage after a drive in a severe snowstorm. We navigated the losses, the changes, and arrived in 2019 with dents and scars, but we’re here and ready to get on with it as the crowds exhort in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

It wasn’t just me who felt it. Some predict that the energies of the universe will lead humanity in a positive direction this year. Others who watch politics believe that the new Congress will finally reign in the chaos emanating from the Oval Office.

Either way, I feel as if it will get better from here.