When I rose from bed this morning, the aches and cramps that accompanied the launch of the day startled and surprised me, though they are not new. But they are more pronounced. “I used to be young,” I said to myself. “How did I come to be so old, so wrenched with the pains of an old man’s body? Is this just the start of an irreversible decline in comfort? Can I turn back the clock, even a few years, to regain the youth I so foolishly assumed would last as long as I do?” Arthritis. Adhesions in the gut, reminders of various past surgeries that patched my body together so it would last a while longer. Shortness of breath, an emphatic admonition about the excised and discarded lobe of my right lung. A chronic inability to clear my lungs and silence the whistle from deep in my throat. These are the keepsakes of advancing age, otherwise known as decay. Perhaps a return to morning walks on relatively flat surfaces, after the move, will reinvigorate the old muscles and calms the aches and pains. A better diet and more exercise would help reduce the baggage of weight accumulated during years of ignoring advice on taking care of the only body available to supply my brain with the nourishment it needs to keep going.


Last night, after a nice dinner out with friends and my visiting niece and her husband, we returned home to relax and engage in conversation—though my part in the conversation was limited, as my eyes closed involuntarily and repeatedly. My niece and her husband had driven from Houston yesterday, so they were understandably tired, too. We made an early evening of it; in bed before 10. Not long thereafter, the NOAA Weather Radio screeched, loud enough to wake me even if I were deaf, to warn us of a severe thunderstorm watch. A few moments ago as I was taking my first sip of coffee, just before 5, the beast howled again. This time, it announced a severe thunderstorm warning. The automated voice sounded the alarm for fierce winds, golf-ball-sized hail, damage to roofs and cars, etc. Because the weather radio announcement was garbled, I checked the warning online on the National Weather Service website. It seemed even more dire:

HAZARD…Tennis ball size hail and 60 mph wind gusts.

IMPACT: People and animals outdoors will be injured. Expect hail damage to roofs, siding, windows, and vehicles. Expect wind damage to roofs, siding, and trees

Fortunately for us (so far), the announcement of locations expected to be impacted did/does not include Hot Springs Village.

This kind of weather does not bode well for the garage sale my late wife’s sister helped organize for today (she was with us at dinner last night, too).  I’m crossing my fingers and toes in the hope the weather blows over quickly, leaving perfect weather for garage sales.

As I return to the keyboard, I learn of a new weather statement, a tornado warning. Fortunately, this one, too, does not include the Village. But I hear loud cracks of thunder, followed by rolling growls that reverberate for many seconds. Whether tornadoes are near or not, this weather is not conducive to being outdoors. I am convinced the change in climate is accelerating. Mother Nature is intent on exacting her revenge on humankind for our cavalier mistreatment of the only planet we have ever known.


Save a few touch-ups and some silicone caulk, I finished painting the “bonus room” behind the garage in the “current house” yesterday. I hope that room, along with the rest of the house and the outstanding view to the southeast, will lead to multiple offers to buy the house when it goes on the market late next week (assuming all goes according to plan). We still have plenty of stuff to move to the new house (to eliminate clutter) and lots of straightening up and cleaning up to do before the house is ready to show, but I hope we can get it done before Thursday or Friday. I am more than a little ready to have this four-month episode of housing conversion behind me.


Every increased possession loads us with a new weariness.

~ John Ruskin ~


If I were more courageous, I would dispense of most of my possessions. I would live a much leaner life, a life in which material things did not serve as stand-ins for what really matters. It takes courage to shed the trappings of modern-day contentment, I think. Modern-day contentment is a replacement for meaning, an artificial replacement for something most of us have long since lost. We do not needs belts or blouses or shirts or smart-phones or polished walnut picture frames or Volkswagon convertibles to make us complete. But discarding all those things puts one in danger of being labeled mad or worse. Yet is being labeled mad all that bad? I mean, if one is happy with fewer possessions, is that an unhealthy experience? No, of course no. But it does take courage. And the ability to shed criticism like water from a duck’s back. Most of us care too much what we believe strangers might think of us. Even though, as people wiser than I often have said, they don’t.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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