Meaning


It has been a week of contemplation and ultimately deciding to let go–surrender.

For months now I’ve been preparing (with the online course) and then trying to get a job here. For any of you out there  who have tried in recent years, you may know it’s no fun task. Online job searching and applying has become, it seems, like all our communication now: a distant and computerized grind. It takes anything remotely human out of the chore. There is no more going into a place (like a store for instance) and asking for an application, where maybe you might have a real person see you. Everything is handled by some invisible robot now.

So I have been reduced to my statistics, and sadly they aren’t good. And don’t believe the lies they tell you. This America we live in now (or maybe even before), isn’t the equitable place everyone may believe. No, it’s really about the bottom line. It’s not about knowledge or experience: age does not bring wisdom folks, it brings the fact that you may just cost too darn much. Or in their minds you might anyway.

It doesn’t seem to matter that younger folks may not have the savvy for a particular job, or the personal presence shall we say (at least in some instances). I’ve noticed that many of the ‘kids’ seem too busy checking their phones to really know how to talk to a real person. But bosses and companies don’t seem to mind this flaw as long as they can keep hiring these kids cheaply.

And I’m not even asking for a lot of money! I just wanted a job. So does my neighbor. But try as we might, we just keep getting rejections, no matter how stellar our resumes may look. So it was time for me to just take a breath, because honestly, my breathing was getting too rapid about the whole situation. I was getting Indeed.com anxiety. It was nuts!

Enough already.

During a meditation it came to me that it was time to give in. My arms were heavy from swimming against this current. Fair enough. So time to take another tactic.

I applied to volunteer at the local soup kitchen. Within 10 minutes they called me. I start tomorrow at 7 am. No, I’m not a good person. This totally isn’t about being generous. It’s about me. I won’t lie: this is doing something for me. I need to feel like I have meaning.

And it didn’t hurt to apply somewhere and have someone say yes.

Cray-Cray?


As the hurricane is getting closer to where I live, I’m wondering if I notice its pull on the human beings around me? Am I imagining it or is it real?

Certainly humans are overly preoccupied with the weather now that we can have a minute to minute account of what it’s doing via social media on our phones and computers–this with a full onslaught of radar, photos, video and people telling us about the death and destruction about to hit us. No wonder everyone gets coo-coo.

I HAVE LOTS OF WATER!!

Are people better off not knowing? Well, probably not, because at least we can prepare, but wow, one would think it’s the end of the world rather than the possibility of a power outage, wind and some flooding. But maybe it’s just something to talk (complain?) about.
The endless lines for gas, the empty grocery shelves, the incessant talk about what our work wants from us. These folks have obviously have never lived through an ice storm and the following 11 days of no power in sub freezing weather after! Now that sucks! At least it’ll be warm here. Not to diminish the issues that may befall us…just that getting cray-cray is of no use.

HERE’S WHAT A VEGAN STOCKS 🙂

But clearly this kind of thing brings out the best AND the worst in folks, as I’ve experienced both in the past couple of days.

My most wonderful neighbors, who were just hanging out yesterday having a drink or two, chatted with me about the upcoming storm. I asked about preparations and two of them offered to help me get ready! They came over and together we put up my hurricane panels, a job I had never done before. They assured me too, that I have the special windows and should be OK. When offered money or a bottle of wine, they flatly refused, saying that this is what neighbors do for each other! Wow, finally a neighborhood where I belong and where folks are kind and caring.

On the other hand, my desk mate went off on me today. Instead of simply telling me something I was doing bothered him, he got very personal about it. It got mean and hurtful. And when we talked later, he took no responsibility for how it made me feel. While this didn’t totally surprise me, it was rather out of the blue and seemed ‘stormy’ that he should attack me the way he did.

IT GOT UGLY AND SPOOKY AT WORK.

Luckily, I’m used to it there and have learned so much better how to handle these things. It bothered me, but I will let it pass over me like the hurricane. It won’t change me any more than any weather pattern will change me.

In instances like this we can let the pressure make us or break us. We can pull together or decide to let the burden of stress be so heavy that we lash out like the items we haven’t battened down.

It’s really up to us how we want to be and how we want to come out of this: surrounded by our own wreckage or in good shape because we all worked together to prepare.

I’D RATHER BE PEACEFUL.

Will I Sleep??


 

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THE OLD HOMESTEAD

It was almost a year ago that I left this wonderful home…now I prepare for another big move tomorrow!! This move will be into a tiny 700 square foot condo. I’ve never lived in a condo situation before. Yet I’ve always longed to be part of a community, to belong to a tribe and a neighborhood. So far, with some lovely neighbors, this wish may come true.

There are many things to do within this community: swimming, work out, walking, trips, games and clubs. It’s just a matter of getting involved. Admittedly, for many years now, I’ve been a bit of a recluse. Hopefully I can get myself out of my shell and more sociable. Work doesn’t seem the place that this will happen, so maybe it’ll be this new homestead.

It was built in the ’70’s and appears to have kept the same sense of that era when folks cared more about those around them. The times when neighbors were really neighborly and knew who lived next door. They work hard to make this happen. It’s not quite a co-housing community (not that cool or expensive), but not unlike. Nor is it totally an intentional community, but with all the rules, one could say it’s trying to be.

I’m hoping my pets will make the transition safely and happily. My dog doesn’t know that he already has a new playmate waiting to meet him named Daphne. He will be thrilled since he lost his brother before we moved. My beagle was old and would never had made the trip or tolerated this weather. My pup has been sad without him.

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BYE BYE BRINKLEY

 

I’m more worried about the cats, but tonight I will put out the little carriers for them to sniff. Maybe with a little added catnip. And at least they will only be traveling twenty minutes this time instead of across the country! They should like this new place, with carpets to vomit on and to sharpen their claws….

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HOPEFULLY THE CAT CARRIERS ARE BIG ENOUGH?

While I didn’t get the little place near ‘the lake’ and it’s certainly not my beautiful lake near my old home, I can still walk near the little body of water (I think) if I want. And, in the end, there are just so many good reasons to go through all this trouble to make another move in a year. Honestly, I never thought I would, but hey, sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do!

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SIGH….THE OLD LAKE….

Crabby


I have always believed in signs.

When I first moved here and into this rental apartment, one of the first things I saw on my make shift patio, was (of all things)  some sort of crazy crab creature! Now maybe that doesn’t sound too weird to you, but it seemed nutty to me given that I live in a pretty down town area, very far from the ocean or any body of water.

So imagine my surprise, when I saw this crab skittering side ways along my back wooden wall, in total fear of me. It was bluish, and quite beautiful. I thought that maybe it had narrowly escaped from someone’s bar-b-que?

But I never saw another in the year that I have lived here, so I figured it was a fluke.

Today,  as I was continuing to pack and putter getting ready for Saturday’s big move, my dog began to bark and bark. I figured it was my neighbor arriving home from work. I shushed him, but he would not be swayed, so I went to investigate.

Of course, dogs are much smarter than we are, and don’t talk without a good reason. And, apparently he had one. A visitor had arrived, unannounced–one that didn’t use the buzzer, but rather just showed up on the patio.

And guess who it was who came a-calling? Yes, another  Mr. crab! He must have figured his cousin came to greet me and now it was his duty to say Bon Voyage! So there he was, doing his crabby dance, looking at me like I was some kind of kook.


This time, I was able to run and get my phone for some shots before he danced away. Don’t think it’s easy getting photos of a racing crab…they move at lighting speed (a little scary I must admit), and will do anything (like climb a wall??) to get away.


But I was grateful for the send off. Even though it was as short as my welcome.


Maybe they came because they know my Zodiac sign is Cancer and figured I’d appreciate them being my welcoming/send off committee!

Up Up Up


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“Sunshine on a cloudy day….”

OK, so maybe it wasn’t so cloudy out, but I’ve been feeling cloudy on the inside. Some cranky things have been happening lately that have put me down in the dumps. And this move, while good, is tough. Me, with my OCD nature just runs things through in my mind, so it can be very noisy in there. It provides my little brain with added stimulus that makes me edgy.

This is why today when I did my walk through of the apartment and met my new neighbor, my mind was somewhat eased. My Mom came too this time and it was the first time she saw the place. She gave it her stamp of approval, which made me happy. And I met my new neighbor who appeared very pleasant, so I’m off to a great start living in this new community. After all…this was the point in the first place. She said: if there’s anything you need, don’t hesitate. Gee, I’m not sure anyone has said that to me since I’ve been here!

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Maybe everything is coming up roses?!

Today I finally also found another position at work that was worth applying for within my own department. This is the break I’ve been waiting for since I got there. It was announced at a staff meeting. I couldn’t believe it. It’s for an anesthesia tech position. This position is much more autonomous than being a secretary, in the rooms setting up for the anesthesia department. I asked some of the anesthesia dept and they said ‘go for it!’ I also asked a couple of the guys that do it during the day, although they are both new doing this job. They thought I could do it no problem.

So I ran to HR during lunch and whipped off an online app. When I got home, I actually read what the job entailed because I never bothered at work! Well, they wanted someone with scrub tech, EMT OR paramedic experience!! So I kind of can’t lose. Unless of course they decide to discriminate based on my age/sex. Don’t laugh, they do it without saying they are doing it.

It’ll be a later shift, but I’m fine with that now that I’m moving close to work. No problem. So fingers crossed. I’m just so glad to be getting away from my very crazy landlady. And now maybe there’s a new prospect at work too.

Things may just be looking up up up…….

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A Place Called Home?


Walking I had yet another moment of realization today. It was after another confrontational day at work. I ponder these moments and really wonder about them. But then I thought back to my last job in New England and realized that there were co-workers there that were difficult too, and that’s when I realized the difference. And it’s not just a difference at work, but in the people in general.

Back home, as I still tend to call it (and feel it is I suppose), the folks are often what one think as the stereotypical New Englanders–keeping their emotions and their lives mostly to themselves. It takes them a long time to get to know someone and trust them (and some never do), but once they do, you’re golden.

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Maybe I will trust you

They can be a pretty silent people, and you as an outsider, which I always considered myself (even though I lived for 20 years in one NE state and 30 in another)– I was really from NY. And they never forget that either!

You may live in a house for years, but they don’t consider it yours until you move, then they refer to it as the old so and so house. Many are the salt of the earth, but are reserved in offering. In some ways, you must earn your place in the community, it’s not automatic.

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And when they do choose to speak, they usually have something to say–it may not be much, and they won’t care if you agree, but they’ll hold to their principles and beliefs come hell or high water. Pretty much nothing will change their minds, not even reason sometimes. They just stand firm! But real New Englanders will do it over a beer or two (maybe more), and are used to letting others do their own thing. They’ll just think they are wrong.

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I’m just doing my thing!

If they are angry, they will stew and not talk to someone. Or maybe have some beers and have a fight. Get it over with and be done.

Then I came here to the south…not the polite south either. Initially I was shocked by the rudeness of people! Gosh, you couldn’t sit at a light for one second without someone honking their horn!

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It was supposed to be paradise??

And at work too, of course I’ve mentioned the craziness. I attributed it to being the surgery department, but today I realized that this may not totally be it! It may be just living in this area and the personalities of the folks down here and how they are used to acting.

They are much more brazen: if they are angry, they snap and say it! It can shock you because you might not even realize what you did to them. And they get angry at the smallest things too. People are loud and have big personalities. I notice this in grocery stores too. It’s quite amusing actually.

I’m guessing the difference is because of a few things: there are more people for one. So everyone is vying for space and air time. You have to be loud I suppose they  must think–but please not at work!! The grocery stores have loud music too.  And there are cultural differences too, where in NE, everything is very homogeneous.

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It is probably just more stressful living here? Although NE is cold and dreary so much of the time–wouldn’t you think that is stressful? But maybe that toughens them and makes them quiet and inward. There’s a lot more money here too, so maybe folks are entitled in some ways. And they are from all parts of the country, trying to blend with each other. Does it work? Well, sometimes, when everyone is yelling, talking over each other, beeping their horns and misunderstanding one another…. um, no–not all the time.

All places have their advantages. But I as of yet have not found the place I resonate with sadly. I am a mix of both these places in a way. I am outgoing in some ways and like a mix of people, loving the cultural stew. Yet, my quiet NE home was so peaceful and beautiful too–and the people there, while challenging could be the most endearing friends.

So where will I find my next home? How to find a combination of both–how to get a sense of community without the harsh edge of, well, stressed-outness that I find here? That close-knit days of old where neighbors helped one another and cared with a beautiful backdrop?

Any suggestions?

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Too Small


Inspired by the movie “The Woman In Gold,” I have begun to read the book titled “The Lady In Gold,” by Anne-Marie O’Connor. It is about a famous painting by the Viennese artist Klimt which was stolen during the Nazi invasion of Vienna by Hitler, along with many other Jewish treasures and artwork.

The book goes into much detail about the horrors of that time and it has hung heavy on my heart. And I realize, though, it seems not much different from today.

When I woke up this morning, after having dreams about German invasions of a hospital (because of my new job offer at a hospital I suppose), I turned on the radio and heard about the San Bernardino shooting.

My early walk had already been filled with thoughts of what a violent species we were, and questions about why this was so. And here it was yet again! More death, more unnecessary bloodshed.

NPR was profiling the current types of people who do these sorts of things: the outcasts, the unhappy childhood, the ones that feel separate or not a part or who have been rejected. This was even Hitler! It’s shocking. But what makes that one person turn on their fellow human and decide to harm them–sometimes en masse?

Sometimes this person is so extreme in their behavior they are able to recruit others–even change a nation to be brutal! Slavery of any kind is also a kindred kind of violence unleashed upon others and is filled with superiority and hatred.

In looking through history, what little I know of it, it seems that many indigenous people did not act in these types of ways. There may have been some tribal fighting, but the random ethnic cleansing due to insecure and hateful personalities of individuals seems to be missing.

I often wonder if we are mutating to possess some gene that carries this violence within us. I pray we do not. There are days I fear turning on the radio and simply feel numb when I hear about more dead.

How do we stop this march? How do we make these people feel more a part? Can you start to sense when someone might do a heinous thing and help them see it is not the answer? Are we all simply lost?

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Maybe work places need to provide more time for employees to meet, gather and really talk. And make sure everyone’s mental health is stable. We need to really start caring about one another: our co-workers, neighbors, family members–even people you just meet in the street.

Because if we all are going to live in this volatile world together, then we are each responsible for the action of another. The earth is getting too small to believe otherwise!

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Cultivating Gratitude


“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

So today I woke up a tiny bit crabby and down. Again I was feeling sorry for myself, my situation at work, living in the geographic area where I do and finding myself often not in a community that feels right for me. Yes, I was blue. But as usual I did my jog/walk on the treadmill, followed by my yoga and said ta ta to my dogs and then headed out into the bitter cold. And then flipped on the radio in the car as I headed to another day on the  job.

It was then that I was bombarded with the usual pain and sorrow of the world suffering that goes on around me. The suffering that is both so global and even on personal levels when some lone person hurts another one.

But I got through my day with a couple of nice gals at work (one especially is my great bud); we also some great laughs. On my way home I realized that my neighbor hadn’t answered my texts about the change about feeding and taking out my dogs. My daughter was supposed to do it, but left early instead. So I called my neighbor and she gladly did it for me.

But when I got home, she was still there in the driveway. I was perplexed. So when I got out of my car, she told me she had walked back over to my house to check on my porch lighting because she wants to buy me a motion sensor for my outside. She worries that when I come home, I can’t see and will fall and no-one will find me!

So she went back to her house and asked her husband and he said they had one  and he would install it. It was so thoughtful and kind, it almost brought me to tears! And here I was being ungrateful. Forgetting the good I am surrounded by when there is so much suffering–true suffering–in the world!

Yes, I know, my life isn’t always just what I had hoped or would love it to be all the time. But I will try to do as Emerson says more often: be grateful for every good thing that does come my way and say thank you continuously. Because truly–I have so many things to be thankful for in my life.  And it’s true, even the bad has contributed to my advancement!

November 22, 1963


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“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country.

My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.”

While many of us know the first part of President Kennedy’s inaugural speech of 1961, we may not know the last part. I didn’t until today. In reading it on this day, the 50th anniversary of his assassination, I was moved and brought to tears.

Some words are powerful and poignant, no matter what year they are spoken. These words are certainly so. While I’m not a religious person and not necessarily the most patriotic,  I am still highly spiritual and certainly love my country.

As I hear the horrors that transpire around the globe with constant wars, political killing, global treatment of women, vast poverty and hunger–I still feel America is a nation of abundance and freedom. True we have our own poverty and hunger also, but we have constant checks and balances to combat it. And I’m not sure it’s to the extreme of other countries with millions living in destitution.

But the words that for me seem to ring in my soul are that we as individuals must do for our country.  And beyond that, we must work together to make things happen! President Kennedy, as a practicing Catholic, knew enough to say that while God can help, you must truly be the one to do the work on earth! Whatever your higher power may be. And that you do it because it’s right!

And only history will show how well we all did. Since 1963 have things improved? Has hunger in the world gone down? Is there more equality among people? Is shelter more available? Is there less war? How is America doing in all these arenas?  Or do we have more work to do both globally and at home?

It’s not just up to our government and America to do it all for us. We can’t sit back and expect the citizens to make more laws to protect resources and then all go and drive huge cars. We can’t complain about healthcare and the cost of insurance and then be overweight and not exercise. We can’t complain about over crowding in schools and school taxes and then have five kids per family. We can’t complain about our neighbor’s noise when we’ve never even made an effort to know who our neighbors are. And it’s easy to forget that the millions dying overseas of starvation are people just like us.

It’s time we as Americans take responsibility: for ourselves, our community, our world! It’s easy to complain, blame and expect ‘them’ to fix things. It’s easy to point fingers and say it was the other people who broke everything. But until we admit that maybe it was us too and we are willing to meet halfway, then we can never heal. Make at least one sacrifice in our life–one change!

It’s 2013 now, 50 years later and President John F. Kennedy had a vision. He tasked a nation to take on responsibility. I was only a small child then, but somewhere in the deep recesses of my soul I have tried to embrace these words. Hopefully as a nation we can move closer and closer to these goals and embrace the world as one.

Zoo Musings: Ernie


This is an old article written over 20 years ago. It was written when I was a docent at the Burnett Park Zoo in Syracuse NY and writing for “The Inside Track”–the newsletter especially for the volunteers.

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I would guess the main reason many of us are zoo volunteers is because we love animals. We have our favorites and become attached to them. We all seem to share feelings of sadness when an animal dies, even when we may not know that animal personally. How often have we heard of an animal’s death at a meeting and all sigh and groan together sharing the loss? It touches our hearts more than it might most people. And so, many of you out there will understand how my life has been effected by the recent loss of my dog Ernie.

Of the volunteers that I know, many of you share your lives and homes with pets. You all know that I do too: my pony, my goats, my four cats and until recently, my dog. All my animals are wonderful and contribute in a special way to my life, but I have to say that none touched me like my pup.

Ernie was about five years old and came to live with us as a puppy from the Humane Center. He was about 11 weeks old, had been there a while and was pretty goofy looking. I fell instantly in love and told my husband he was the dog for me. We knew he might get big being a German Shepard/terrier mix and he ended up tipping the scale at 70 pounds.

He was my constant friend, sticking by me through an extremely difficult pregnancy. I was home all the time (throwing up mostly) and ol’ Ern was by my side despite my unpleasant behaviors. We shared that first year together pretty much alone and that attachment was to remain permanent.

I said he turned out the be a big dog, and his goofy puppy appearance transformed into a mature goofiness (still the floppy ear and a full-blown beard that become home to many a grossness). Hannah (my daughter) arrived and Ernie accepted her happily despite my Mother-In-Law’s warnings of the dog who chewed off the baby’s milk-laden fingers. Not my pup–he was one of the family.

A day came when I realized that his big galutedness needed some taming–I might have thought it was cute that a 70 pound dog jumped up to greet me, but my Mother-In-Law most definitely did not. So off we went to obedience class. Others didn’t have faith in Ernie, thinking him big AND dumb, but I knew he would rise to the occasion and show everyone how wrong they were. He was a comparatively old pupil, but I was undaunted because I knew of Ernie’s desire to please. And show ’em we did. He was a star pupil, learning everything put before him, not bothering with the other dogs and not peeing in class. He always knew when we were going to class and would get all juiced up–it was our time together and we loved it.

I still say we got robbed.  He only came away with second in his class. The judge had her eye on him when he did his one wrong thing and missed the wrong doings of the dog who took first. The whole class was shocked Ernie didn’t win and I was disappointed. But it didn’t seem to bother Ernie in the least.

He came to be my running buddy. When we moved to Otisco my dream came true and he and I were able to jog together in the woods. He would get off his leash and be able to experience the ancient feelings of his ancestors as we romped through meadows and woods. He’d always answer my call, even when face to face with a deer because this was the part of him that was bonded with me. I loved to be able to let him run free in safe territory and always believed it wasn’t fair to let an animal roam where they could get hurt.

But I got lazy… The quiet of Dutch Hill Road lured me into a false sense of security. Very little traffic, barely any pedestrians to follow and only an occasional fellow canine traveler. The winter up here has been brutal with wind chills of 20 below, snow almost waist deep, so I got complacent. I began to let Ernie out to do this thing by himself. Only for minutes at a time–he was never one to like to be out by himself–even in warm weather he’d whimper to come in to be with us. He’d stick around…..

On the last day I saw him alive, I had just let him out for a pee. I was on the phone and was looking out the window at him. He was in the driveway looking toward the road with ears perked (even the floppy one). I chatted a couple more minutes, but I must have sensed something because I rung off so I could call him in. I did–he didn’t answer. I got my coat on and started outside. I stepped out into the driveway and looked toward the road and in an instant took in the scene: a scene I can’t forget and wouldn’t wish on anyone who has a dog they love.

A truck, my neighbor and my dog lying in the road. He was in his death throes by the time I got to him. I was hysterical and consumed with grief. My pup was gone. No chance to say goodbye, to hug him, to love him one more time. My road is quiet, but not quiet enough.

My neighbor offered to take him (he owns a farm) and without thinking, wrapped in my sorrow, I said OK. Now I wish I hadn’t. I almost went that night, learning he was still on the truck, to wrap him in his favorite blanket and say goodbye. Friends talked me out of it, but I wish I gone. I do have his ashes now and ordered a dogwood bush to plant when warmer weather arrives, but the emptiness I feel is vast and my guilt lurks close to the surface.

For awhile all I could picture when I thought of Ernie was that last scene of the road. Some nights ago though, I was coming home late at night. I turned onto Dutch Hill and a winter fog was rolling in. I had a tape in, a new one bought to help calm my nerves. I reached the top of the mountain, the place where he had been hit. I stopped and closed my eyes. When I opened them, I saw the fog rolling before my headlights and let the music fill my heart.

In my mind’s eye I saw Ernie running, loping through the woods as he loved to do. I turned up the driveway and realized the last time I saw him alive he was listening as though something was calling him. I got out of the truck and heard a dog barking somewhere on the mountain. I listened to the dog, surrounded by the silence of the night and hoped that someday I would run with Ernie again.