A Welcoming Place

Damn! Mi novia is on her way to the “convenient care” clinic in Hot Springs, where she expects to be tested for COVID-19. If the test is positive, confirming the home test she administered this morning, she (and I) hope she is given the latest medication intended to treat the virus, minimizing its effects.

EDIT: The test was negative! It’s just a common cold! I am more than a little ecstatic about that!


My driveway, which I cleared of leaves two days ago and which remained nearly leaf-free yesterday, is again littered with leaves. And not just a few. The entire concrete surface looks like it was purposely decorated with yellow and orange leaves, most of which fell from the Bradford pear tree overnight. On the one hand, I think Bradford pear trees are quite attractive and provide substantial amounts of shade. On the other, they are weak and prone to shed enormous volumes of leaves. Strong winds snap their branches like delicate toothpicks. Once all the leaves have fallen, we will arrange to have the tree trimmed so the branches do not overhand the roof of the house and to minimize the likelihood the big, brittle branches will not damage the roof with every gust of wind.


I wish I had a friend capable of relieving my back pain by giving me a professional back massage. Not only capable, of course, but willing. Lacking someone with both the ability and the inclination, I suppose I’ll have to resort to approaching a stranger for the treatment. Not just any stranger, mind you; a professional masseuse or masseur whose hands have sufficient strength and stamina to massage my back for an hour or more.

The idea of relying on a friend to provide a much-desired massage is based simply on my wished-for frequency and timeframe of treatment. I suspect asking a professional to come around at all hours of the day and night might be viewed with suspicion. But, then, a friend might look at it the same way. Perhaps a massage chair is the answer, rather than a living, breathing massage therapist. Or maybe not. Correcting my posture might help, too. Ach. Time will tell.


For the last couple of days, I have been reading news stories about a missing seven-year-old girl, Athena Strand, who lived in Cottondale, Texas, a community northwest of Fort Worth. I suppose it was the little girl’s photo that captured my attention and interest. The image—of a sweet, innocent child—and limited details about her disappearance made me feel a knot in the pit of my stomach; I hoped she would be found safe, but I feared her body would be found, instead. This morning, I read that the child’s body was found last night. A thirty-one-year-old contract Fed-Ex delivery driver has been charged with capital murder and aggravated kidnapping in the case. While I do not know whether he confessed to the crime, the Wise County sheriff said the suspect provided information that led investigators to the little girl’s body.

I do not support the death penalty, but I find it very hard—damn near impossible—to argue against killing the killer of that child. Though I think the perpetrator must be mentally ill to have kidnapped and killed the child, I cannot find it in me to have compassion for him. Yet I do not know the full story, so my rage against the man who has been arrested could be misplaced. I cannot be absolutely certain the Fed-Ex driver is the one who killed the child, though I am quite confident he is guilty. And, even if I were presented with proof of his guilt, I cannot know what went through his mind when he abducted and murdered Athena Strand. My compassion flows freely to the little girl’s family and friends and neighbors. My hesitance about calling for the death penalty for the killer would almost certainly enrage the child’s parents. The girl’s abduction and death leave me feeling an irreconcilable conflict between murderous rage and humanitarian protection for the mentally unbalanced killer. My distaste for taking the man’s life might disappear if I were chosen to perform his execution. I think my principles might well dissolve into white-hot hatred and a willingness to mete out my inhuman take on justice. I can only imagine the rage and emptiness and unquenchable sadness the girl’s parents must feel. Life can be impossibly painful.


I bought a ready-to-bake apple pie yesterday. I had planned to bake it today, but that plan may be derailed for various reasons. The fact that I still have not received the coffee maker to replace the one that died does not help. Pie and coffee, together, recall a few vague memories of those rare occasions when I would travel with Dad when he drove from Corpus Christi to the Rio Grande valley to visit lumberyards, which were his customers (he was a lumber wholesaler). We sometimes stopped at small town diners, where we had coffee and pie (though I think I may have had milk, rather than coffee).  My father liked his coffee strong and black, a preference I adopted when I began drinking coffee. I think my preference for black coffee—no creamer, no sugar—was modeled after him.


If I were alone in the world, my inhibitions would disappear. I would not worry what others might say or think if I were to create (or, at least, attempt to create) an enormous sculpture in front of my house. I would not hesitate to risk failure by trying new endeavors. I would classify my life as an experiment, always ready to be conducted without regard for the consequences of either success or failure. Alas, I am too human. Others’ opinions matter to me. Sometimes too much. I’m going to work on that. Whether the world likes it or not.


We watched the first two episodes of Three Pines last night. I have not read any of the books by Louise Penny, but I think I might, based on watching the two episodes last night. I have a sense that the books from which the series emerged seem to appeal primarily to women. I am not sure why I have that sense; but it does not matter to me, anyway. I find simple crime/detective stories appealing for some reason. Decent people in stereotypically harsh, hard-nosed roles seem at once to reflect reality and pure fantasy. Odd, that. Cynics and skeptics probably would not enjoy the books or the series; but I am a cynical skeptic, so that theory is immediately shot full of holes. Oh, well. Life is more complex than we sometimes make it out to be.


Enjoy your day. And your life. Sing. Laugh. Make others laugh. The world will thereby become a better, more welcoming place.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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One Response to A Welcoming Place

  1. Debra Kirilov says:

    I love Louise Penny novels! I’m going to start the television series. Hope Colleen feels better soon. Glad it’s just a cold. ❤️

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