Fog settles in and out of San Francisco. It was briefly out yesterday, and this morning returned with a vengeance. Not that this matters in any tangible way, except for mood. Mine, that is. The summer began with the death of my cousin Bob, friend, contemporary. And it has continued with thoughts of my own death—which while not on the horizon, is on the table.

Meanwhile, I am on the bed, and alone, owing to Jane’s current absence at a diocesan retreat. Retreats are good. We all need them. And we also need to retreat from our partners now and then, just for a bit of contrast, if nothing else. So in terms of basic policy, while I supported her two-day sojourn in Sonoma County, I also feared it. Why? Hard to say. But there is no doubt, I am decreasingly agile. And increasingly dependent upon aids and aides. I now have a rope system for hauling myself up to a sitting position, vis-à-vis emerging from bed. Though I’m not quite used to it, can’t quite trust it. And in any case, can’t help using these ropes without some awareness of their recent advent. Not to mention the downward course of my general neurology.

I jokingly refer to the various family members who stay with me while Jane is away as babysitters. But the joke is on me, of course. The fact is that I feel more vulnerable, more fragile than I did, say, a year ago. And that’s how it is.

Meanwhile, in Jane’s absence things have gone swimmingly. My brother-in-law Andy has been staying here. We had a wild Night at the Opera courtesy of Messrs. Mascagni and Leoncavallo. What’s to complain? This is indeed the question. I wasn’t really complaining about the presence of our 18-year-old cat on my chest, laying her head on my neck and kind of working at some kind of paw exercise on any exposed skin throughout the night. I slept anyway. Although it took a while to get sleep underway. And then sleep ended quite prematurely. Because around 4:30 AM I started worrying about getting out of bed. Could I? Or was I going to be stuck on my back, unable to reach my mobile phone to call Andy upstairs. And convinced that his 71-year-old hearing would not be acute enough to pick up my pleas for help. And remembering that the front door is thoroughly locked at night, making it impossible for my morning helper to arrive and rescue me. As I say, 4:30 AM.

Enlivened by these thoughts, the minutes ticked away. Around 5 AM I began to think seriously about giving it a try, the rope trick. By 5:20, I threw off the cat, grabbed the rope, and pulled myself upright in one go. Not bad for an old guy, I was telling myself. The other thing I was telling myself is that it was entirely too early to be doing anything. So I did the only thing that could be done. I made tea. I made for the back door, opening it so that Bixby could wander outside for his canine ablutions. It was only 6:30 AM when I rolled back into the bedroom. At which point Bixby, a rescue animal who has endured considerable abuse and has taken about 10 years to get over it, demonstrated that he is as recovered as a doggy can be. He commenced joyous barking. This Bixby feature surfaced in the last year or so. And it is mostly endearing. But not of that particular hour. But then, ironic truths settled around me, and I made more tea, and I unlocked the front door. And I decided that although life is scary, it is also funny, and good.

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