September 26, 2015
Day 3 was the wild card of our trip. A suggestion had been to take a day trip to the nearby monkey sanctuary. While the other girls nodded excitedly at the prospect, I grimaced. I then explained that, thanks to far too much time spent protecting my belongings from thieving wild monkeys, and observing their unappealing social habits, I have a decided distaste for the creatures. So when day 3 actually rolled around, we decided to split the party. The girls would go see their monkeys, and Peter and I would stay in the village. By this point I had another seed of a thought: could I possibly repeat the exquisite experience of yesterday’s swim? We did, after all, know the way, after finding our own way back yesterday. Peter agreed to try out our idea, and we set out walking in the general direction. What we were to discover, however, was that if a guide were to notice a pair of walkers, and were to follow them all the way to the falls, he would be very angry indeed. He would berate the pair for setting out without a guide to lead them. He would tell them that if the authorities found out, we would get in a great deal of trouble. He would advise us to tell them, on our return, that we had simply wanted to spend time taking photos of butterflies while we walked. And he would suggest that we give him some money, to assure that he had the same story as to our activities.
We would never have wanted to get in such trouble so I tried to forget about my happy idea of the day: and we took many pictures of the lovely butterflies.
That night we all went for a sanbu. The girls regaled us with monkey tales, and Peter and I described our collection of beautiful butterfly photos. We passed a church and paused at the door to see where the music was coming from. When we did so, a trio of musicians summoned us in and we sat for a bit to watch them rehearse with sax, trumpet, and keyboard.
Then we slipped back outside. One in the group mentioned out loud her wondering as to whether we had crossed the border into Togo while hiking. None of us knew, but Peter and I told her that we had seen the border patrol just down the road at the other end of the village. We walked down to see about the prospect of stepping foot across the line. When we got down there, one of the border officials came over to us, and we mentioned the idea; he said that he was sorry but we could no longer cross–it was too late in the evening. We would have to come back in the morning. Kara shook her head sadly, explaining that we would be leaving first thing in the morning, so could not do so. The man then scanned our group, looking at each face for a moment. He settled on one—the youngest in our party—and said, “I would like to marry a white woman.” Peter put his arm around my shoulder. Still looking at Amanda, he continued. “I would like to marry you.” At this, Kara (who, I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned, happens to be a particularly loyal friend) brightened, “There’s a church just down the road—you can go get married now . . . if you let us into Togo!”
We did not cross into Togo that night.
We did, however, make it safely back home the next day, arriving once more creaky and sticky, and vowing never to make such a long trotro journey again . . . or at least not until our next holiday :-)
September 25, 2015
Day 2 held the main goal of our trip: hiking the mountain. This time, we would follow the leadership of a proper guide. His name was Charles.
The office where we purchased our tickets informed us that, due to the poor trail conditions, the long hike was closed: we would need to hike the short trail to the Falls. Disappointed to hear this, our trip organizer questioned if there was any way to hike the long way if we wanted to. The answer she was given left just enough ambivalence that, shortly after starting out, she asked the same question of our guide. He gave about the longest, circular answer, I could imagine, involving tales of other hikers asking to do such a thing, tales of other guides asked to lead them, and descriptions of the amounts of money involved. “I never talk about money,” he repeated finally, “but if one were to pay 10 or 15, or maybe 25 or 30, each person . . . because your safety is on my shoulders.” We solemnly nodded and repeated that yes, we would like to go the long way. This decision would be revisited (and questioned) over the course of the next 5 hours.
Several hours into the hike, nearing the summit, we had grown silent, slowing down in our chattering and singing . . . and encouraging each other that we would not die. We had grown weary enough that the feeling-like-death-was-imminent was just a fact of our existence. I was jolted out of my hiking trance, then, by the sight of Charles suddenly sprinting ahead of me, springing back and forth across the trail. Stopping after a bit, arms flailing and legs kicking, he hollered “Stop!” Then he said, “Ants—biting ants. Stop where you are and then run as fast as you can to pass the ants.” Adrenaline pumping, we each did as we were told, the others following my lead as I was the first behind Charles at that point. In the middle of my sprint, however, I looked down at myself at began to scream. I was absolutely covered. The others pitched into a party of helping me pull off articles of clothing and pull the ants off me as I cried out each time I felt a new bite, grabbing for them and crying out angrily. Once the majority had been removed, we kept going, with me periodically stopping to grab at a hidden one. “So guys,” I began, “you know how I was telling stories of my lack of animal fear?” (I had been telling tales of Zambia, and of being the “snake dancer” to scare away the snakes that had been spotted near the school dorm). “Well, I lied . . . I’m terrified of biting ants.” And of course I, who had been forever scarred by a near deadly run-in with the little monsters early in my childhood, would be the one in our party who managed to sprint straight into their welcoming arms.
On a brighter note, however, we had now reached the summit. It was all downhill from here.
From this point on I was a horse heading for the barn—or, perhaps more accurately, a sea turtle heading for the sea. With itchy crawlies from ant bites, plus my general watery inclinations, I was single-mindedly zeroing in on that waterfall, and on my dive into its pool.
We reached a fork in the path, at which Charles informed us that we were free to pay him: he would be leaving us now, as this was the point when we could go to the falls on our own, swim as long as we liked, and then make our own way back. It was an easy path back and he was too hungry to come with us. This last point made a great deal of sense, as he had completed the entire 5-hour hike with a single packet of crackers in his pocket (and no water with which to wash those crackers down). He was also carrying nothing, except for his hiking stick, and wearing flip-flops, to create an appearance of skipping along (periodically plopping down on a rock to wait for us to catch up) while we painstakingly trudged along.
Being free to pay him, we did so, and said our farewells before continuing on to the Falls.
It was all I could have hoped for.
That night, once we had all recovered, Peter and I went for a walk. The girls laughed at us when we announced our intent, asking why in the world we would want to walk after the day we had already endured. We explained that the concept is so relaxing that where we have been there is a specific word for an “after-dinner-stroll.” They were not convinced. We went for our sanbu. Peter followed some village men to find out about the strange giant “fruit tree,” and to learn its medicinal uses. I followed a trail of little ones, singing various language versions of “Jesus loves me” as we went.
And the next day . . .to be continued :-)
September 24, 2015
Follow the leader. For three days, perhaps. And don’t get too set on any one leader, for, in our game, the leader changes.
Our first in-country travel adventure has just concluded, during which we traveled, in a party of five to hike the country’s highest mountain
, and visit its biggest waterfall.
The first leader was our trip planner-my running buddy and fellow fifth-floor teacher. A worthy leader, managing to get us the entire way by trotro, which is by far the most economical mode of travel. Comfort must be tossed to the wayside, to be sure, with the long hours spent bouncing from one pothole to the next while packed into a rickety van with as many people and possessions as can fit. And if one passenger requests a stop, no doubt the tro will stop again shortly thereafter to add a new roadside passenger to the mix: an almost seamless motion of door-opening-as-tro-slows-while-new-passenger-is-pulled-into-the-tro. The door may or may not make its way closed again before the action repeats or is reversed.
As for what to expect if inclined to seek out a trotro adventure oneself, the basic expectation should be that there is none. There is no departure time, for instance: it departs once every nook is filled with a body or a belonging, and every one of those space fillers is paid for. There is also no guarantee: the aim is to make as much money as possible; so if someone is willing to fork over a bit extra for bags of grain, luggage will be removed from the back and placed on the owner’s lap. At one point in the trip, we were eyeing my bag for quite some time as it was displaced, looking as if we were going to leave without it
; at least, as far as we could tell, there was no place for it to go. Eventually, instead of being closed, the back doors were tied together with cord so as to create a little pocket of extra room for luggage.
By this point, with an hour and a half of sitting on the tro while it filled, I was so relieved to be starting to move that I lost my earlier questioning as to whether we should abandon this tro and look for another. But at least one never need go hungry or thirsty while waiting–any groundnuts, fried plantain, water Baggie …or mouthwash, you might need can be purchased through the window from a basket perched on someone’s head.
But for all that might fill an interest level on this mode of travel, there is nothing to make it pleasant. So by the end of the six hours getting there, it was with creaky bones and sticky skin that we stiffly made our way down to the lodge.
First order of business being a creaky and sticky walk, we set out to stroll through the village and see what we could find. Within a few minutes, though, we were no longer wander in but rather following an insistent youngster who’s entreaties to “follow me” and “this way” we could not resist. We investigated the cocoa nuts she showed us
, meandered down some paths behind her
and then, when she safely deposited us back where we were staying, we decided to keep going a bit. With time before sunset, I assured everyone that if we kept going down the path and then turned right, we could loop back to the main road and make a triangle leading us back to where we started. After a series of right turns with which I led them right into clearly wrong destinations, the party was primed to accept the leadership of another: a gentleman exited to show us all his field, and the rice growing in it
(does rice really look, and grow like this, we wondered?).
At this point we all noticed two important factors to consider:
#1 being that the sun was setting, and we were wandering in an unfamiliar village.
#2 being that said setting sun was bringing with it the accompanying insects and critters that we generally avoid (one round of malaria so far for Peter and I hopefully not to be repeated too soon!).
Two points considered, we turned on our heels and came back
…the group graciously allowed me to resume leadership, at a significantly speedier pace, on the condition that our path would henceforth not diverge from a direct route. We made it safely back, before dark, and that’s about all she wrote … For day one of the trip, and chapter one of the story, that is. Stay tuned for the rest of the story: the mountain :-)
August 31, 2015
[An eternity ago], when I was on an undergraduate mission trip, I stumbled upon a verse in Psalms that struck me: it seemed out of place in my normal realm of Bible-Study-leader genre of readings, and was intensely comforting. “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.” (Ps. 55:6, NIV). I repeated this verse to myself, like it was a favorite song refrain. Wow, I thought . . . a spiritual giant like King David would admit, out loud to God, no less, to wanting to get away from it all? If so, surely there is hope for me, secretly wishing I could just run away . . . just be “at rest”!
Eventually I grew up from that rough patch of life and moved on with a slightly more balanced, but still outwardly active life. In more recent years, I have found my struggles to be less in the realm of depression and more in the realm of overwhelmed stress. I bring it upon myself, oftentimes, filling my schedule to the point of breakneck speed. Thankfully, I now have a husband who calls me out about this, challenging my adrenaline-addiction and, sweetly, giving me permission to have human limits.
Last night I opened to my usual Bible app right before bed. Generally I open up the verse of the day and then expand it so as to read the chapter in its entirety. Without fail, I find some applicable comfort for the particular day when I do so. Last night I opened up to read “Les paroles de sa bouche sont plus douces que le beurre, mais la guerre est dans son cœur; ses paroles sont plus onctueuses que l’huile, mais ce sont des épées nues.” (Ps 55:21 OST) For those of you who don’t tend to read a French version, this would be “His talk is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords. (NIV).
Humph. I grunted my displeasure at such an unsatisfying evening read. But I continued my routine of opening up the rest of the chapter. I was fidgety and distracted, and almost didn’t notice that there, in this chapter, was that verse I had loved so much, so many years ago. But the strange thing about it was the meaning was different. Or, at least, the way I translated the connotation was—and in a way that struck me just as powerfully. I know, intellectually, that verses have a different meaning at different seasons and stages of life; but I think this is the first time that has hit home with such reality for me. This time I read, “Et j’ai dit: Oh! qui me donnera les ailes de la colombe? Je m’envolerais, et j’irais me poser ailleurs.” and mused on the fact that to “poser ailleurs” does not mean to just fly away and be at rest. Rather, it is placing oneself in another place. So now, having wings like a dove gives the ability to lift oneself up from a current setting and get to another one.
Beautiful, I breathed. So now, as I get weary with the daily tasks of life, my comfort is a more active one. The truth is that I get deep satisfaction from being engaged in tasks that make me feel “needed,” and that keep me busy with meaningful work. Why not, then, have a relief from weariness be a more fulfilling role, as opposed to just getting away from it? And yes, tonight as I switched from homework-finished queries to lunch-packing for a preteen, I realized that the household tasks were somehow refueling me for another day of teaching . . . though in the middle of classes today I had wondered at my ability to manage the day’s worth of duties and roles. When it comes down to it, I guess, the act of moving from just one task to the next one is, at times, the most realistic way of tackling a mountain of said tasks.
*I snapped this photo during children’s church yesterday. Somehow, the image of little ones gleefully eating cake just seemed fitting for this post :-)
August 22, 2015
The honeymoon is over. We had a week of such fun that I was tempted to think “what’s so hard about this parenting thing anyway?” Except that I knew better than to say such a thing, even if it had been just in my own deluded head :-)
Sure enough, after that first week of ease we entered into the reality of post-pubescent life, and began to have the corresponding battles: morning school-prep delay tactics, for example. Or sneaking 2 extra laps across the pool after the “time’s up” warning, when she thinks I’m not looking.
Used to this sort of routine by now, I was surprised to find her uninterested in swimming after school yesterday. I had anticipated a fun Friday swim and ended up with a child throwing our plan for a loop as she expected to be able to sit at home by herself. We realized that we’ve had such a habit of asking her what she wants in any given scenario that we had no response ready when her idea didn’t mesh with ours. We decided to insist on an outing and set out, the two of us discussing discipline ideas while a sullen preteen shuffled her feet behind us. The remainder of the evening was smooth enough, but I found myself insecure, wishing we were smiling and laughing together, or that she’d show interest in doing yoga with me as she often does.
The truth is that I’m jealous of my husband-jealous of his laid back and patient nature, and jealous of the way he draws people to him and smooths out issues. I, on the other hand, get too easily stressed out and impatient with difficulties. I get frustrated by things out of my control and react by obsessing over minor details that don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. In the household this means I’m the one who’s the stickler for rules, and the one always bringing up what needs to be done, and what hasn’t been taken care of. In other words, I’m the strict parent. And I’m realizing that I get very self-centered in my neediness to be “liked” in the home: this need does not mesh very well with a parenting role.
But back to yesterday. I had invited the boys over for a movie night, so all the boarders were together with us last night. A few times during the movie I asked P if she needed help with her hair. I had set up an early morning appointment for her at a nearby shop, after she’d said her weaving was coming out and she needed to get it fixed. I knew she was supposed to take out the old ones before the morning, so thought maybe I could help her do it while we watched the movie. She said no each time, though, saying she didn’t need help. She also said she didn’t need help waking up in time in the morning [which is said each weekday as well, with each weekday needing, in fact, said wake-up call after all :-)]. I said ok, though—no wake up call—and before long headed to bed myself, being rather zonked from the first full week of teaching. The boys and Peace finished the rest of the movie while I read in bed. A bit later, once all were headed to bed, I heard a knock on the door. Peter answered from downstairs, and I heard her respond that she didn’t need him. She asked to come in and, when I said to come on in, she fidgeted for a moment before asking me what she should do about her hair. “Well,” I began, you can either stay up late tonight or wake up early in the morning—you do need to take them out, right?” She nodded, but didn’t respond. “Do you want me to help you?” I asked. She looked up then. “Will you?” I told her I would, and got out of bed. Realizing it was going to be along process, I called for assistance from a neighbor as well, who came over immediately. The two of us made relatively good time with the braids, chatting with P while we did. I told her the story of my hair-buzzing when I was in my twenties.
Frankly, for all my rule-enforcing tendencies, I was relieved that she had asked me to help her. Somehow it eased my insecurity over my role, and it gave a sense of purpose that calmed my nervous spirit. In so many ways, I know I am not suited to the roles placed in my life right now: teacher, parent, wife . . .
Lord help me as I piece them together, best as I can, and somehow, someway, survive the refining process brought about in the process.
August 15, 2015
I will never win Mother of the Year: I generally tell others that my husband is the one with the nurturing tendencies. So it came as a surprise to me more than anyone when tears sprung to my eyes as I beamed with pride. We had walked in, slightly flustered at my worry that we were short on time before the bell, and as we walked up the stairs another teacher looked over at us and exclaimed that my girl looked so smart in her uniform. “I know!,” I said, smiling so big I had trouble enunciating …”doesn’t she?”
The funny thing about this was that her uniform-wearing was a total improv job for us, right before we walked out the door that morning . The truth is that our rush was my own fault-I was the one stressing about my appearance and changing clothes at the last minute, so that I did not notice till the last minute that she was not wearing the uniform I had expected her to be in. Due to some payment confusion, she had spent the first few days of school in regular clothes. While the school had given us permission in this regard, I did feel bad that she was having to stand out among her peers; I’d been excited, then, to borrow a couple shirts the day before. We then discovered that she actually had with her a skirt that looked almost identical to the uniform skirts!
So yesterday morning when I saw she wasn’t wearing our planned uniform, she explained that the skirt had a problem. I asked to see it, while explaining that she still needed to wear the shirt, even if the skirt didn’t work. When I saw the problem, I realized that I could make it work sufficiently enough for the uniform to appear all together; there in the kitchen we did a quick change-and-clothing-hack, and then headed out the door.
It occurs to me that oftentimes my life is like a clothing hack–I end up finding ways to make do, but always have an underlying suspicion that the rest of the world “has it all together ” far better than I do. While I intellectually know this cannot be true, I still persist in living as if I have to maintain appearances of planned-ness, of professionalism, of “normalcy,” and of proper spirituality. Most of the time, the reality is that I tend to figure things out as I go, for better or for worse.
Peace. Our dorm daughter’s name is Peace. And ever since she arrived, I have had Paul’s benediction running through my head. “Grace and peace to you …” Somehow, with my own name (meaning and middle name) being grace, I cannot help but feel there is a significance to the fact that the two female names in our household are meant to be. In some way, we are to live output names. Somehow, we will be the recipients, as a household, of both grace and peace. In spite of mothering inadequacies :-)
August 2, 2015
Wow. I’m tired … This transitioning business is intense. How could I forget, in just three years since my last new-country transition, how draining it is to be a newbie in the world. Ok, fair enough-I’m not exactly a newbie in the world :-) But I might as well be, seeing as how my world is all new right now: home, work, community, language … Even “family,” shortly, once our boarding house “children” arrive this week. And that part, in fact, I am super excited about. Somehow, settling into a large house with beds made up for students has left me eagerly anticipating the youngsters, in a way that comes as a surprise. My customary reaction to change involves either fearing or feeling numb about that which is to come – only after having some sort of experience, some frame of reference for excitement, do I look forward to something.
Marriage, for instance: before my wedding, I would quite truthfully answer “no” when asked if I was excited. How could I feel excited about something that was unknown to me?, I wondered. So why would you be willing to do anything new, you ask? I should clarify that my lack of excitement does not indicate an expectation that something will be negative: He has proven to be faithful in bringing good gifts with each step I have taken, oftentimes overwhelming me with the goodness of it all. So from experience I know that it is right to walk forward into the unknown, even if I do so fearfully, anticipating the things I will have to give up, and the hardships that are to come. I can use that experience, then, to remind myself and to coax myself forward past the fear … And into the goodness (which married life definitely proved to be overflowing with!)
Back to the present [or to the future? ;-)]. All that to say, I find it curious that I’m looking forward to the arrival of our students, since I have not yet experienced the role of dorm parent. Maybe the fact that I have experienced dorm life serves as some frame of reference …a possibly deceptive frame, now that I think about it, considering the fact that I was not in the primary parent role before! Then again, this time around I have a husband who will also be primarily filling that role :-)
Here we are–a couple of parenting newbies stumbling our way along this transitioning road: making errors left and right [primarily those of the “left” variety, being 2 lefties in a culture where the use of our left hands generally indicates the intent to be offensive ]; trying to have patience with each other as we do so; praying for grace, for each other, and for ourselves!
*one of my potential goofs involved the taking of this photo. I had happily happened upon a view over the city, from the university’s botanical gardens while running. I stopped to take a picture and, as I did, heard a voice behind me asking if I was taking a picture of “his garden.” Uh oh, I thought. My response was simply to stammer “Um . . . yes-it’s beautiful!” Hopefully not too bad of a goof, but it did make me inclined to be a bit more cautious in my photo-taking :-)
July 20, 2015
A chicken. Of all things to plop down on a brain, refusing to free it for dwelling on any other thoughts: a chicken. As if my brain had become the hatching ground, I’ve been dwelling on this chicken since yesterday evening. More precisely, this chicken is a hen. A broody hen. I had never heard of such a thing until now—somewhat surprisingly, since I used to take a certain amount of pride from the fact that I was in on the family neck-wringing and feather-plucking when I was young [my fervor for the task dampened slightly, mind you, when I adopted, and named, a pet from among the bunch. But that is another story: a woeful tale . . .].
But I suppose many decades have passed between then and now, and enough of a lifetime to forget some of my farming roots. Which is why I was all ears as my mother-in-law gave me the tour of her 19-hen collection, explaining the process she has gone through in learning, from scratch [;-)], how to raise and care for different breeds of egg-layers. I kept shaking my head as I listened, repeating “I had no idea . . .” I had no idea there was so much involved in the process of caring for these creatures. I had no idea they had such intriguing quirks and tendencies. I had no idea they were so, well, so much like people! At least, that’s what I was thinking when I was introduced to the “broody hen” . . .
Basically, from what I have learned thus far, a broody hen is one whose hormones and circumstances have made her enter a single-track state of mind: she is ready to raise her young. This means she will squat stubbornly on her eggs, to the extent that she will forego other aspects of daily chicken life: taking her dust baths, eating, even drinking water! What makes this biological phase problematic for the average chicken farmer is that a hen will enter the “broody” phase whether or not her eggs have been fertilized. In other words, if there is no rooster available, so no chance of the eggs hatching, she will nevertheless insist on hatching them, hunkering down until she loses her own life in the waiting.
Admittedly, this analogy does not apply to humans in the same extremity: I doubt that someone would inadvertently pine away while waiting for a “hatching” that they do not know is impossible. I do, however, believe that a great deal of applicable truth can be drawn from this natural phenomenon.
And it need not necessarily be about having children, though that is certainly something people get single-minded about: fertility clinics and adoption agencies abound to give evidence of this fact. All manner of potential fixations, however, can get our attentions and energies lopsided: I know I have my fair share, rotating in and out with life’s seasons. I wish I could propose a grand solution: a happy ending to this writing. With a summer that has consumed me with its travel, moving preparations, and medical issues for both my husband and I, I find myself feeling woefully unprepared for a one-week-and-counting move to yet another continent. I suppose even in the best of circumstances, though, I have never found a way to actually be prepared for these—or for any other life changes, for that matter. Maybe the best I can do here, now, is sit in the peace of a few days left in the gentle company of family and be . . . and maybe learn a thing or two about raising chickens :-)
June 4, 2015
So this will be a short post. I am just beginning the process of figuring out what I can do one-handed (and wrong-handed). Here in the middle of my biggest book project in my career as a librarian, with combined inventory of 11,000 plus cataloging of 600 titles, I am suddenly one (and wrong) armed.
My morning commute into work today turned into a visit to the international clinic. “As far as breaks go,” he assured me, “this is about the best kind you could have gotten.” While grateful for that fact, I’m afraid the prospect of immobility is still a looming, and daunting, one for me. But here it is, and so begins project See-What-I-Can-Manage-With-One-Arm. So far I have begun wrong-handed tooth brushing, and one-handed typing. That is not much of an accomplishment when I think ahead to all the rest of the things to be done … but off to it! :-)
This is the offending sticky-upy piece of metal:
June 1, 2015
So she didn’t die. The morning after the day of death-scare, she woke up and simply decided she was going to live. It’s still a mystery to us; but we watched her develop a hearty appetite for the super-nutrient pet vitamin we had bought, get back to her usual self, and return to all those normal kitty habits that I never thought I’d be happy to hear/see:
incessant meowing at the start of certain kitchen preparations: she has an uncanny ability to smell even frozen-solid meat
sharpening her claws on my yoga mat, or on any surface that she deems worthy of her scratching time (i.e. those that will show clear and lasting evidence that her claws were there)
making sure we do not forget how to get to her litter box, by leaving trails of litter from any given room in the home
showing her affection for the broom by following me when I sweep and running to splay her body over it at each stroke.
I had to throw away the lovely cross I had painstakingly made for her. Ok, so maybe it was neither lovely nor painstakingly made: but it did feel a bit odd to just toss a grave marker with her name on it.
We also had to resume project find-a-new-owner in full force—even more urgent now that a week had passed in which we had grown lax in the search. Then, suddenly, a photo sent by a friend to her friend led to a phone call the next night, which led to a pickup the next day. Yes, Lily has a new home: quite a perfect one, in fact, for an older cat used to having plenty of adult attention. Her new owners are a young couple who have not been married for long and who, we suspect, will find Lily to be the perfect first “child.”
A part of me wants to wonder about the meaning of all this: why the roller coaster of emotions and reactions? But the more practical part realizes that it is simply time now to move on with the business of moving. A library remains to be inventoried this week; books remain to be catalogued; our home remains to be packed up and cleared out . . . yes, on to the business of life. But, hopefully, with a remnant of the peace that comes from knowing that someone’s got my back. Someone’s on my side :-)