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3/1/02-Fri.-This was an early day for Fran. We all got up before 6 AM. By 6:40 she was on her way to the school where she'll be teaching, and I was off with Pepper for a walk.

Conditions were cloudy, cool, foggy, and drizzly. In the less developed area, adjacent our closest Barnes and Noble shopping center, I had two interesting sightings, a white-tailed deer and then a coyote. Though at considerable distance from one another, each was at first only about fifty yards from me.

In contrast to the canine I'd seen a few days ago, this coyote did not promptly run off, standing his ground at first and staring at us, giving a good chance to scope him out as well. At length he sauntered off, but stopped several times and looked back, clearly in no hurry to yield his territory.

On Wednesday I had my final doctor's appointment in the latest round of skin cancer treatments.

Afterward I drove over to my most recent employment location and spent two or three hours briefly visiting with each of a number of folks there whom I'd known over the years. One of them was retiring. So I'd wanted to congratulate her and wish her well before she left. I also took an album of photos from Fran's and my Florida trip, in December. As usual, there was much appreciation of the pictures.

I'll likely go back there at least one more time, but not till late in May, when another colleague has a retirement party.

Even though it was nice checking in with several acquaintances, just being there, seeing and hearing again how things are, was quite a "bummer," such a "downer" that I'm still today feeling depressed by it.

Larry, my former co-worker and erstwhile friend, has shown little interest in our doing anything together, now that we no longer have the automatic, day-to-day associations of the job, responding only with delays to my several suggestions that we get together, even at his place. Most recently he said, for about the third time in one form or another, they have "too much going on" and that I should call him back in a couple weeks.

Maria says she's not available for lunch with me and Sandy, that she is going (today) to the Valley (on the Texas border with Mexico) to be with her mom, who is eighty-three and facing serious surgery. It promises to involve a long recuperation and threatens her continued independence. Maria has tears in her eyes as she tells me this, extremely worried, saying she's using a lot of leave time to stay with her mom, for likely several weeks.

Sandy is politely responsive when I suggest another get-together at an eaterie, saying she'll invite our friend Ed as well, but is not yet ready to get specific about a time and place.

So, my interactions are considerably reduced. In various ways, my last couple trips to visit with relatives have been less than fully satisfactory as well. Soon I'll need to bite the bullet and begin developing a new (retired person) social life and network.

Though my meditation experimentation and physical activity are now back to normal, they were both severely disrupted by the recent trip, averaging, for those few days, only about half or less the normal amounts.

The other afternoon Fran and I discovered what the Beatles meant by "he was a clean old man." Before the end of the day, though, I was again a dirty one.

Today our insurance broker called and said my quarter-million dollar term life policy had been approved, apparently as a preferred risk-nonsmoker. The broker said: "You really were healthy. You weren't lying to me." The premium ($795/year) is lower than I'd expected. Whatever else happens, assuming I live another few days, long enough for the policy to be in force, and that the bottom does not fall out of either the stock market or our currency valuation, I have been a good provider.

3/3/02-Sun.-Was up very late last night, but apparently not alert enough. This morning we found major new destruction (to such an extent it had to have been not just by kids but with dedicated efforts by morally bankrupt adults) of our front landscape cactus plants. I'd known there was a loud party going on at our favorite (across the street) young neighbors' place. As usual, they had lots of noisy neighbors going and coming, with vehicles parked up and down both sides of the road. From the extent of the destruction, it seems they decided to expand the hilarity into our yard. Fran and I have discussed it and decided, once again, to do nothing, too aware, from reprisals at our last property (sold after the neighborhood had deteriorated badly), that even to confront people on criminal mischief "invites" further anarchy. When the adults feel free to gleefully indulge their aggressions in this fashion it is no wonder their offspring grow up to engage in delinquent acting out as well. Not without satisfaction, I note, though, that in the long run their lack of control usually leads them into regrettable consequences. They "get what they deserve." It can't happen too soon.

I reflect on my anger over this newest incident of neighbor vandalism. It is as if I think "How dare they do this to us!?" As if we are blameless and they are ultimately guilty. Yet am I free of aggressive tendencies? Have I never done destructive things that have harmed others' property or feelings? As Kierkegaard might have noted, we are not guiltless. We cannot with moral integrity deal with our fellow man or woman with great intellectual distance or detachment, assuming we are completely separate from them or, smugly, that we are on the side of the angels and they of evil. Nor are we free of responsibility for our own negative emotional reactions.

Yesterday I began a new, specialized diary, "Investor's Journal." From now on the reader here will be spared personal finance writings, as they'll appear there instead. It may take awhile, though, to get the new site online.

We had another hard freeze last night, the second in a row and about the third one in a week. The plants are not appreciative! Today is nonetheless sunny and beautiful.

Fran is quite busy now, with both teaching and new opera rehearsals and performances.

I seem to have been in a blue funk since my latest trip, as if I've lost my bearings and am not sure how to get them back. I speculate that I need to get in more rest as well as meditation. Probably also to go ahead with positive efforts to develop fresh, rewarding social interactions.

3/4/02-Mon.-Up quite early. Feeling much better than yesterday, when I had a brief spat with Fran and also had developed a bad indigestion problem, as in the "You make me sick!" cliché, which, of course, is incorrect, since we make ourselves sick, if anyone does; and we're responsible for our own emotions too. (Nobody makes us feel anything.) Anyway, yesterday was a washout with respect to meditation or extra exercise. I was just feeling badly most of the time and wishing I did not. I'm back on track today, with the meditational experimentation as well as adequate aerobic and conditioning physical activity.

Today I cleaned up about fifty to seventy-five pounds of destroyed cactus from out front, feeling really angry about that destruction all over again. I'm reminded, although the scale of the violence here is of course so much smaller, of the totally sick, irrational mayhem depicted in the movie, "Platoon," when, just because they were afraid or annoyed, or for the hell of it, U. S. troops rifle-butted to death the retarded young Vietnamese man in front of his pleading mother.

It is terribly difficult to accept one's own or others' vehement, harmful use of force as an integral part of a perfect order of things, to wholly accept that which is, in whatever its manifestation, whether we fully understand it or not, whether we appreciate it in our individual persons or not, whether in the particular it causes us at times extreme pleasure or overwhelming pain. Yet that is precisely what, as spiritual beings, we are called upon to do! Everything else is entirely too immature and self-centered.

3/5/02-Tues.-Recent hypnagogic imagery: Have called the police because of ongoing vandalism of plants on our property by neighbors. It takes a couple hours for a police vehicle to show up. The single policeman inside listens to my emotionally charged complaint, says if I catch folks doing such destruction to definitely call the Austin Police Dept. about it and not try confronting the perpetrator(s) myself, that, as upset as I am about it, I could very well make things worse if I try to do something myself, and that, otherwise, all he can suggest is that I contact my insurance company about subsequent incidents. He said the police do not have the manpower to do more frequent cruises in the neighborhood about damaged plants. Nor can they investigate without more to go one than my suspicions. If I do not feel his advice is sufficient, he said, I might consider moving to a better area. All in all, I feel frustrated and that our situation is insecure, with no reasonable solution. I am extremely angry. I'd like to take a golf club or sticks of dynamite to the cars of the folks across the street, whom I'm pretty sure have been trashing the cacti in our yard.

Fran and I got a late start this morning, but did go with Pepper on a two-mile walk and then got most plants, that we'd been protecting from the cold, open again to the sun and fresh air, before she needed to leave.

Figuring part of my negative mood lately might be from too little social interaction, I looked online for groups and activities in Austin that might be of interest, finding a few prospects but nothing that seemed, as Goldilocks might have said, "just right."

I called my former colleague, Sandy, and chatted awhile. We'll likely get together next week for lunch, along with another colleague, Jesus. She said her husband, Clark, has lately been having severe back problems, so bad that she had to help him with getting his socks and shoes on and off. She said it all started during the super bowl game. (Wonder what they were doing instead of watching the game like good couch potatoes!) He's on pain medication for it now. They hope he does not require surgery.

Took myself for brunch to Jim's, dropped off laundry and cleaning, and picked up a prescription.

Fran's been working on a web page for my Investor's Journal, making excellent progress on it.

3/6/02-Wed.-It's laundry day. So, by 7 AM, with fistfuls of quarters, we were off to the local washer/drier place. I went to get the coffee (for me) and donuts (three for Fran, one for me) while she wrestled with the washers and the bags of dirty garments plus bath and bed things accumulated over the past month.

Fran has a cold, and a long, hectic day. After some computer chores for our various sites this morning (once through with the clothes and such), she was off to the school where she'll be teaching till late this afternoon. This evening she has an opera dress-rehearsal, and likely won't get back till late.

I have a less arduous but still busy day ahead, starting with making a copy of all our now completed tax records, then getting them to the accountant.

Since my last trip, I have been successfully maintaining the meditation and exercise disciplines.

Reportedly a good movie: "Harrison's Flowers."

3/8/02-Fri.-Too little sleep last night, a not uncommon problem. But today will be full even without a nap. Yesterday, concentrating on completing a story for the next issue of our monthly newsletter, I did all my exercise but only about an hour of meditation. Today I'll make up for it with two hundred minutes of meditation, besides regular chores.

On our walk this morning, Pepper and I were briefly thrilled on seeing a couple adult, white-tailed deer bound across our path, only about twenty yards ahead of us. Altogether, we had 15 deer sightings on today's hike.

Puzzling over a recurrent dilemma: how to live a meaningful life in the absence of any belief (as opposed to merely hope) of an ultimate foundation of meaningfulness, or, in other words, in a life lived with few illusions.

The answer now would seem to be that the question itself is meaningless. Any "meaning" based on illusory concepts, such as a benevolent and personal god, with a plan for each of us here and hereafter, is itself illusory. Rather, meaning is simply implicit in the living of life and requires no anchor beyond the moment-to-moment openness to what that living offers, always a gift, whether we notice it or label it (i.e. "good," "evil," "pleasant," "unpleasant," "meaningful," "meaningless," "sane," "crazy," and so forth) or not.

To wrestle over how to have meaning is a luxury, perhaps even a self-indulgent, immature one. Let us simply be about the business of living life! Would you ask someone struggling for the next breath through a prolonged, labored dying if he or she can assure meaning when there is no special, objective purpose for existence? Every living cell cries out with its life the meaning of each instant's being.

Or we could say that meaning is inherent in what we love, a person, a pet, a favorite hobby, the next moment's awareness, or the breath of life.

Perhaps the correct way to put the dilemma is as expressed in one theme of the great movie and book A Beautiful Mind, namely, "How can one's life matter?"

3/10/02-Sun.-Fran's cold and cough are now very bad. She was up with them multiple times last night. And I was awake till about 1 AM. So we slept late this morning. Had a buffet brunch with the madding crowd at Golden Corral.

This afternoon she's at an opera performance. I'm doing some shopping and various activities back at home.

Enjoyed a fine movie this evening on videotape, "O Brother, Where Art Thou."

I've begun to suffer sinus and throat symptoms as well.

3/11/02-Mon.-Six months ago, on September 11, 2001, our country suffered its worst terrorist attack and began responding to the newly perceived threat of such violence. Some of our reactions may have far-reaching repercussions, perhaps rivaling the initial or potential destruction against us, in the damage done to our personal freedoms and to international geopolitical stability.

The threat must be reduced. Nonetheless, there are none who are absolutely good or absolutely evil. To oversimplify, painting ourselves as the former and our enemies as the latter, may lead to "cowboy" actions, that but fan the flames of hatred toward us, however expedient they may be for short-term, domestic politics.

To the extent we support Israel and her ends at the expense of her neighbors, or attack Iraq and other nations mainly for doing what our "colonial" ally, Israel, did, with our tacit approval (develop weapons of mass destruction with which it threatens other states), we are seen by much of the world as a part of the problem, as merely expressing the principle that "might makes right," and as morally bankrupt. We are thus rendered incapable of neutral efforts toward lasting peace in sensitive regions of the world, in the long run an outcome hardly in our interest.

Pepper and I went for our usual morning walk, seeing one deer. It was cool and drizzly.

Later Fran and I went out for brunch, taking the mutt along for a ride. She was thrilled as we pointed out several squirrels along the way.

We're both trying to get more rest, pampering ourselves because of cold viruses. This was easier than usual, for Fran, today, as the schools where she normally teaches are closed for spring break. Tonight, though, she has the last of the current opera production performances.

Have switched the recent writings based on hypnagogic imagery (part of "Process Meditation" sessions) from this journal over to Phil's Place, as they seem to fit that format better.

Meditation and exercise were somewhat scaled back today, the coughing and sniffling having gotten significantly worse.

3/18/02-Mon.-Back after a hiatus during which have been bothered by a bad cold or allergy reaction, making it difficult to sleep and, generally, resulting in feeling tired and rundown. This has affected me more than Fran, though, at times, it's been a real nuisance for both of us. We've been staying in separate rooms at night, to keep from waking each other up with coughing or the other obnoxious noises of an upper respiratory infection.

I've not felt much has been accomplished during this period. Certainly, both the meditation and exercise have suffered, though at least half of normal daily efforts have continued to be made.

Over this past weekend, though, in spite of a serious failure with our printer (normally useful in the proofreading process), we did publish the latest issue of our monthly online newsletter.

On Saturday, we also had a pleasant get-together with Ron, Claudia, and Joel for dinner, a videotaped movie, and chit-chat.

This past Thursday, while Fran was on spring break, I had a lunch visit with Maria, Sandy, Clark, Jesus, and Rose. The food was great and the companionship even better. Fran was invited but declined. Some of us, at least, plan on doing it again next month.

On Friday, Don was came to our place for the Baltic Buzzards rehearsal.

My spouse and I have, finally, been invited to go out to Larry and his wife, Heather's, place, near Elgin, next Saturday late afternoon/early evening, our first time there. Though Larry and I had a fairly close association at work, an ongoing friendship, now that I've retired, seems much more tenuous. In contrast to his attitude before I left the state job, he's shown no special interest in such a relationship, make the recent invite only after a number of overtures from me. (In fact, taking the hint, I had, with the last message I'd left on his answering machine, decided not to contact him again unless he responded better than earlier - though, of course, I did not say this in my neutral recording on his voicemail.) So, must take it one day at a time, with no expectations, as, indeed, is always a wise approach.

Meanwhile, Fran has arranged for a new pen pal lady, who, like her, has a big interest in gardening and related sites, to come by our place next Sunday morning for a visit.

On our walk this morning, the sky cloudy, the ground wet from overnight light rains, the temperature about 65°F, we both (Pepper and I) had several deer sightings. I also saw the majestic flight of a red-tailed hawk, low, across an open area between two thick groupings of trees. Spring has arrived here in central Texas, with lots of new-growth grasses, early leaves, buds, and blossoms. The birds have become noisier around our house, their cheerful, territorial calls beginning while the sun is still absenting himself on the other side of the world.

Today feels like a catch-up time. Fran is at work. I plan to restore the normal meditation and exercise disciplines, assure sufficient rest, and get a few things done that have been put off.

I note that our recent level of social interaction feels about right for now, though when it is much less I am distressed. Thus, if I can look out on a week or two stretch of little involvement with others outside our home, I probably need to do some things to remedy the situation. Fran, on the other hand, is content with little or no contact with others for extended periods of time.

I was delighted this morning that my e-mail friend, Ana, checked in, despite her busy schedule, after a few weeks of our being out of touch.

3/21/02-Thurs.-Called my Aunt Kim last night, on her 86th birthday, and talked for over an hour. She and Uncle Randolph have really been through it in recent years, with severe strokes, arthritis, fractures, and G.I. problems. Nature is not kind to the aged of any species. We wage our toughest battles, if we're lucky enough to grow old, when we are the least fit for the fight. Ultimately, of course, no matter with what spirit and courage we struggle against the foe, we lose the war.

I'd love to believe that we are thus paying off karma or assuring a place in heaven or otherwise accomplishing something more than simply living out our species' life cycle as best we individually can given the evolutionary, environmental, and chance cards we have been dealt. But, in fact, I think it most likely we simply cease to exist at some point, which is part of the tragedy but also the poetry of existence. We may still "live lives of quiet desperation" or of beauty and compassion, of intellectual or artistic achievement, or of rich spirituality, and so forth. It's just that the lives we lead are of existential rather than absolute meaning. No supreme patriarch or matriarch is going to truly bless us or curse us for our choices. Our best hope is that we may live an examined life and one of aspiration, in peace and harmony, toward the best we can be. Our worst curse is that we may have to live with ourselves if, instead, we cultivate our most base natures. Both heaven and hell are within each of us, here and now, in this very life, with no assurance of any other.

Fran, Pepper, and I were up about half past six and back from a walk by 8 AM. The last cool front of winter came through a couple days ago, bringing welcome rains and wonderfully comfortable nights. Now spring has officially begun.

Just about six weeks are left before Fran will join me in retirement. Already she is enjoying shortened hours at the schools where she teaches.

Although on some days I do not feel very productive, the essential tasks are gradually getting done, as are the meditation and exercise disciplines.

Have started a promising new book, by Wayne Teasdale, The Mystic Heart, which had been recommended by my sister-in-law, Mary.

While shoveling and sifting the material in one of our compost bins today, I came across the biggest insect larva I've ever seen, at least three fourths of an inch in diameter and three inches long. Fran and I placed it in a safe pile of mulch, to continue its development into a super beetle! It is surprising to me how many interesting aspects of the natural world are available for our observation in just a 1/3 acre lot, nearly half of which is covered by the house, driveway, or sidewalk.

Tuesday evening we got together with Baltic Buzzard friends, Glenda, Matt, and Sam, at a nice Thai restaurant in north Austin, to celebrate Glenda's birthday. As usual at such events, we had a good time. The cost was a little steep, though, as Matt, without consulting the others, ordered us a bottle of expensive wine. On our way home we went through a delightful cloudburst, with lots of lightning, strong side winds, and our first good soaking in months. Fortunately, the storm had made its way south and drenched our yard too.

3/25/02-Mon.-Another cool front has come through, with a little rain and an overcast sky, dramatically enhancing the contrasting, bright flowers. It has also brought a lot of allergens or similar catalysts, that have aggravated Fran's throat and exacerbated my asthma, so that I have been coughing badly all evening.

Over the weekend we drove out to see Larry and Heather, their dogs, and their place. It took about fifty minutes, a distance of about thirty-five miles or so, each way. It was a beautiful day for our visit.

They were very gracious and even fixed us a delicious, healthy supper. Their acreage and home are enviable. Their situation, though, unlike ours (as we have not yet even settled on a retirement location), seems relatively fixed and static. They each have a few years left to retirement. The homestead is already paid off. Their retirement incomes will likely cover their expenses. Their two kids are recently starting out their own lives.

I have gotten the feeling from Larry over the last few months that he really could simply take or leave my "friendship," and that they are not interested in doing much extra to create a bond that does not actually exist as yet. I'd once suggested, for instance, our two couples getting together at a great buffet restaurant. But he said that, once they get home, they don't feel like going back into Austin (using Bastrop or Elgin for their restaurant and shopping needs).

Though they had us out to their place, it was only after I'd persisted with numerous calls or e-mails (none of the e-mails returned). So, from their point of view, they have perhaps done all they can to be both polite but discouraging of our ongoing efforts at a friendship between the four of us.

This is one of those circumstances in which a little brutal, up front candor would be welcome. If true, I'd rather Larry just said, "You know, Phil, just because we were friendly at work doesn't mean I have enough in common with you to want to go out of my way to maintain social contacts now that you're retired. Think about it. When you were working we were both too busy, or preoccupied with our own interests, to make any special overtures to create a friendship outside of the workplace. Why would it be any different now for me, just because you have extra time and find that you're kind of at loose ends? Forgive me, but maybe you should have thought of that before you retired, or should now just "get a life!" But don't expect me and Heather to fill any holes in your style of living. We have our own lives, and they're already quite full, thank you very much!"

Wondering what, if anything, more to do with Larry and Heather, I ask myself if they want or expect us to call and suggest they come over to our home for supper and a visit, or simply for dinner at a restaurant we know they like, on the east side (closer to them) of Austin. My guess is they would just as soon never hear from us again, that we get on with our retired lives and let them alone, having no special desire that we reciprocate their gesture of this past Saturday.

But, am I thus sabotaging the relationship myself, when in fact they are merely content to see how things develop and would welcome a supper invitation?

I think of my brother, Allen, who had such difficulty reading the signals of a woman whom he thought was interested in him that he wound up harassing her, until she told him, point blank, to leave her alone, not once but several times, and he still was trying to convince himself that she would like him if he just persisted.

I absolutely do not want anything remotely similar between Fran and me, on the one hand, and Larry and Heather, on the other, and suppose it is better to forego a potential friendship than get it so wrong, given that, in all likelihood, the other couple either does not care one way or the other or definitely does not want significant further involvement with us.

Meanwhile, we have our Baltic Buzzards associations already, and my casual, monthly, lunch get-togethers with Sandy and Maria. The signals are fortunately not mixed with these (though they likely would be if we tried for more intense interactions).

We've continued our exercise program relatively well, though yesterday I overslept and did not get in the two-mile morning walk. In the last several days we've had several more deer sightings and saw a large, low bird of prey flying in a wild area where we walk, though it was not viewed well enough to tell if it were an owl or an eagle.

I was depressed yesterday too, in a quandary over whether or not to pursue things further with Larry. In the evening, I gave Fran a massage and we enjoyed watching the Academy Awards' ceremony. But I got in only about an hour of meditative exercises.

Today I have run a few minor errands. Could not find what I wanted, in one instance, and so will need a separate trip later.

All in all, we should probably just drop a note to Larry and Heather, thanking them for the enjoyable visit at their place, and then do nothing more, unless they make further overtures.

3/28/02-Thurs.-Somewhere between absolute meaninglessness and a complete, if delusional, sense of messianic mission lies the humble truth of each person's position in the scheme of things.

Finally, our place in either the social or cosmic order is to a large degree dependent on factors out of our control. For a relevant purpose we must rely primarily on ourselves.

The role we choose, the way we hope to matter, may be quite traditional or substantially the reverse. No cookie-cutter approach will do. There are too many exceptions to the guidelines. As in the book and film, "Cider House Rules," we may very well go through individual struggles between the two, before our own best course becomes clear.

For some, like Frances, there is no conflict. She simply does pretty much as she wishes and feels quite comfortable with the results, unencumbered by self-doubt.

For me, however, the angst is much more apparent. I am still bound to a degree by the values of my youth, which placed high premiums on having a family (including children), a productive, valued profession, a circle of rich, close friendships, plenty of income (with which to enjoy a fine home in a good neighborhood), a keen sense of humor, some involvement in the arts, and intellectual sophistication. Most of these have eluded me and, as yet, not been replaced by anything of comparable significance. Instead, life seems to be "passing me by," when I view it in relation to those of friends or former colleagues, such as Larry, Michelle, Harry, or Rich.

The main difference between their circumstances and mine is that they have children of their own. If I could find a satisfactory substitute for that one key missing dimension, I'm sure I would feel much more complete and whole. Perhaps I should simply "get over it." Unlike food, I shall certainly survive without children. Yet, not unlike hunger, the pang of their absence comes and goes, with waxing and waning intensity. At times this single omission from my present and past apparently cancels out all the other things, by which, in some perspectives, my life is full.

Perhaps this realization is why I am so moved by the example of the protagonist in the play, film, and little gem of a book, Goodbye Mr. Chips, who, though briefly a father, spent most of his adult life childless but finds meaning and love in his relationships with students. Both as an older brother among eight kids and as an involved uncle, I too have had many associations with children through the years. However, like many millions of others, I shall have none of my own. In company with so many adults, then, one way or another, I must find my own non-traditional course, one that is richly rewarding in its own right, at least for me.

3/31/02- Easter Sunday-One answer to my concern, expressed in the last entry, comes from The Empty Mirror, in which Janwillem van de Wetering recounts the tale, mentioned before here, of a head monk at a Japanese Zen monastery, who had the choice, after as a youth his parents were both killed at once in an accident (ending his relatively luxurious and unexamined life forever) of becoming neurotic, bitter, and cynical about his fate, or turning to a disciplined life of meditative mindfulness. I have no illusions that I could become an enlightened being with a few hours a week, or even a day, of casual meditative experiments on my own. Nonetheless, the story does show that the idea of feeling less complete because of the circumstance of my not having children, is just that, an idea, one in which I need not indulge. There are better alternatives available.

Regarding the meditation, it seems I have given myself a short vacation, coincident with the Easter holiday weekend, and have been meditating significantly less during this period. It is not as though I am abandoning my goals and regimen, just that I am enjoying a short sabbatical.

Friday evening the Baltic Buzzards rehearsed at our house. This time it was just Sam who came over and joined Fran for the practice of more tango tunes for an upcoming gig, next weekend I believe. I bought some ice cream (low-cal.) for the occasion and we had a mini ice cream social. I was very tired, though, and easily became irritable over little miscommunications between Frances and myself. I think the others enjoyed their cream more than noticing the mood of the host; but I did not have as good a time as I might have.

For the most part, however, this weekend, while Fran is off (Friday through Monday), is proving to be quite pleasant. Indeed, although allergies, colds, and/or asthma (and medication for them) had put a damper on such things in recent weeks, my wife and I last night had a quite enjoyable exploration of some aspects of the second, or Dan Ti'en, chakra.

Today we worked in the yard some, enjoying the gorgeous weather, and went to see "The Lord of the Rings," a somewhat flawed movie but certainly in several ways a spectacular and entertaining one.

I also called my mom and had a nice chat. We plan to visit her in a couple weeks.

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