I stumble out of my morning routine dazed and a bit lost. It takes a good two hours most days, and it’s unrelenting, the exercise followed by stretching that I and Dennis, my daily helper, undertake. Oh, I don’t doubt that it’s good in all the predictable musculoskeletal and broadly physiological ways. It’s just that it’s boring, takes tremendous effort, and leaves me with the feeling that I have just expended substantial energy to essentially tread water…to slow down the general process of things getting worse, vis-à-vis aging. Two hours down, And I’m ready to undertake some of the actions of an able-bodied person. Not that I can sustain those actions very long. It’s enough to make a person stare off the terrace, looking south toward San Francisco’s Excelsior District, a neighborhood I have gazed at for a year and barely driven into. On this particular day what catches my eye is the sky. It is uncharacteristically striped, bands of rain cloud massing for inaction. This is the dry season in central California. Rain? It’s not going to happen.

It’s nice having two redwood decks, one at ground level, one a story higher. It’s more than nice in this particular city…it’s a luxury. It’s something to appreciate in this particular moment when appreciation seems in such short supply. It’s enough to make one grateful for the sky, that there is one, and that it’s blue.

I suppose the day has not benefited from its start on BBC Radio 4’s Today show, dominated by news of the shooting of a member of Parliament. Only last week I trundled through West Yorkshire on a marathon train ride to the UK’s southwest. Britain has always been a refuge for me, a place where people do not shoot each other in such alarming frequency. It’s still is, Jo Cox’s death notwithstanding. Still, I found myself glued to the news, working hard at my rowing machine while various MPs held forth on what it all means.

In this case one thing it means is that America is doing an unfortunate export trade in guns and hatred. The Britain First nut who shot this young mother had gotten his ideological training and an introduction to guns, from organizations and websites in the US. Not something to be proud of.

Is enough to make one get the hell out of Dodge. Or into my Dodge Caravan, for the 1.5 mile drive to lunch in neighboring Noe Valley. In full disclosure, to face the fear of said drive. Because that’s what’s happening these days. Every time I get behind the wheel, It’s like the first time. For the last time I collided with couple of cars. That is to say, it’s scary. And there’s nothing better for the soul than dealing with fear, I always say.

So I set off for my lunch date, with Jane following in her car. And was pleasantly surprised to find her parking just behind me on 24th St. It’s a small vehicular world. We met our friend Jerry. It was all delightful, except for lunch in the faux Frenchy restaurant Le Zinc…which what’s once pleasant enough. But not now. Never mind. What’s a little tasteless onion soup between friends? Besides, the big event of the day was driving. I am proud to say that it all worked out. And more to the point. I worked myself out of a glum morning mood. Good parking everywhere. Undaunted by the hills.

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