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I want to start by acknowledging all the unbelievably kind and caring people I have met here on WordPress.  You are the best people I could have ever hoped to know.  You represent every race, religion and lifestyle imaginable.  You live in countries around the world.  You come from every conceivable background and walk of life.   Through you, I have come to know that we are so much more the same than different.  We are bloggers! 

I’m not talking about the big-timey, commercial blogs or the experts plugging their products and services.  We are the heart and soul of the Blogosphere.  We put our words out there for many different reasons, but mostly I think we do it to make contact.  We are the global village so talked about in years past.  There is no profit, but there is gratification.  There is no expectation, but there is hope.  We take the risk and we make ourselves vulnerable, but it is worth it when someone visits our site, “likes” a post, makes a comment, or does us the enormous honor of following our blog.  

You have brought me great joy these past few months.  I could never fully express my gratitude for the support you have shown me and this blog.  You have been a gift I could not have anticipated or even imagined.  “Thank you” is so inadequate, but they are the only words I have to offer you in exchange for the comfort and joy each of you has given me by being part of my blog community.

My life is such right now that maintaining this blog properly is simply impossible.   I had thought to say good bye in this post, but when I went to my e-mail and saw all the comments, likes and new followers, I just couldn’t do it.  Instead, I’m going to do what I can to keep it going.  I’m not sure how often I will be able to post.  I know I will not have time to answer all the comments and visit everyone’s blog with any regularity.  I’m going to break all my own rules until things settle in my real world.  I’m also going to turn off my comment moderation, so comments will post when they are made.

I hope . . . no, I know you will understand because that’s just how you guys are.  I’ll post when I can and I’ll be reading as many of your blogs as time permits.  So, here’s wishing all of you a happy new year and I’ll being seeing you when I can.

I know I’m always talking about all the great bloggers I know.  I’m going to do it again.  I have no remorse, because this is too good not to share.  I know an incredible artist . . . Bob T. Panda.  No lie.  I know a panda. 

Please don’t even act like you are surprised.  Who else do you think I hang out with?  Okay . . . besides a Vampire King (no explanation required), Birdie (who tried to poison her entire family), Lorre (crazy chick in danger of being incarcerated for the things she does with Barbie dolls), John (the only guy I know that would invite Sarah Palin and Charlie Sheen over for KFC on New Year’s Eve) and you, of course. 

Really, pandas are amazing people and everyone should know one or two or a whole kindergarten of them.  Well, friend Panda is having a contest over at The Panda Chronicles.  This is truly a must not miss event.  You can get your own personal Babette Panda and a rundown on the instructions here.

Seriously, those of you that visit here are some of the most creative people I’ve had the pleasure to meet.  I can’t wait to see what you will do with this one.  It should be quite the event.  I’d love to see what you all can come up with.

I’ve be back tomorrow or the next day with a regular post.  Really.

I would like to invite all of you to visit my awards pages.  I have the priviledge of drawing attention to some of the blogs I enjoy through the presentation of several awards.  The And the Award Goes To  page contains links to all of the different awards being presented.  If you haven’t time for all of them, I’d really like you to check out the 7 x 7 Link Award.  It links seven of my favorite blogs and seven of my older posts — the ones I consider Most Beautiful, Most Helpful, Most Popular, Most Controversial, Most Surprisingly Successful, Most Underrated, and Most Prideworthy.  I’m quite proud of them all, but that one in particular.

Regular posts will begin again in the next day or two.  Thank you all for your patience while I discharged my “Freshly Pressed” and blog award duties.  I’ll try to make the next post a good one.

Mountain View, California and Bangalore, India

I have a new blog friend, Ari. Okay I have a lot of new blog friends (hi!), but this one happens to live and work in Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India. Mountain View, California is called the Silicon Valley and I used to live in California. We’re practical related. Anyway, I found Arindam UnPlugged one day while I was out tag surfing. I came across his post The Indian Signal Spectacle and laughed my ass off. Read it, you won’t be sorry. Besides, it helps this post make sense. Well . . . maybe not, but read it anyway.

The whole time I was reading his post I was stunned by his client, Steve from Chicago. Mr. Chicago seemed to be shocked and dismayed by the traffic customs in Ari’s metropolis. “Surely, Steve has driven or, at the very least, ridden in a car somewhere in the US of A,” was the thought that replayed in my head all the way through the post. I just hate it when people misrepresent and now find I must correct Ari’s impression of driving in America.

The first thing to strike me as odd was when the man from the windy city asked why the other drivers at a long stop light were honking their horns. Really?

This question actually came from a resident of one of the horn-honking capitals of the world? Standard hand placement on the wheel of the vehicle accommodates one to steer and one to honk. Honking is practically a national pastime. Fines up $250 for using the horn unnecessarily have been implemented, but no one seems particularly concerned and the clamor of toots and blasts continues unabated.

Steve’s next moment of amazement came as the result of a cyclist cutting between vehicles. Come on Steve, you never wanted to “clothes line” the twerp in the latex shorts and plastic helmet dodging in and out of traffic? Please.

“Steve had come in from a culture where people are accustomed to follow lane discipline.” Oh yeah, we have exceptional skills when it comes to staying in our lanes. No one ever curses some nimrod motorist straddling the line or cutting them off after flying down the median. Perhaps commuters in India have figured out how to deal with a tight squeeze, but we’re still having a little trouble with that one.

We also have a quaint custom of communicating directly with our fellow drivers. We are passionate about it and make sure we practice every day.

This interaction can be verbal or non-verbal and conducted through the use of hand gestures, signs and, of course, the car horn. There are some media types that like to exaggerate and call it “road rage,” but it’s really just friendly conversation. Our way of letting our compatriots on the road know how we feel about their brilliant driving skills.

Yeah, driving in good, ole America is a walk in the park. Just make sure you have 911 on speed dial, your pepper spray close at hand and emergency foodstuffs in the trunk for those really bad traffic days. And please . . . don’t forget to honk if . . .

I don’t understand death and loss.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  I’ve gone through the process any number of times and the length of my list of dead and gone is colossal.  I have had careers die.  I have had love and passion die.  I have had my trust and my heart stolen.  I have had friendships drift away.  I have had marriages end.  I have had family that I loved dearly taken away.  Gone are houses, more than a few vehicles, massive quantities of other worldly goods, innumerable pets and most of my sentimental memorabilia.  I have lost my art and my lifestyle, even my freedom for a time (no it wasn’t prison).  Most everything for one reason or another, at one time or another has left me. 

Sure, there were reasons.  It’s not like I don’t take care of or am lackadaisical with what is important and necessary.  I’m not a total loser, only a part-time one.  I’ve worked hard for what I’ve had, but there have been some nasty obstacles to overcome and it’s likely I could have made better choices at different times in my life.  I could make you weep with my tragedies, but what would the point be.  I stopped crying long ago and learned to find a way to keep living.  It’s not like there is really any other conscionable alternative.  You breathe in and out.  You place one foot in front of the other.  You put your big girl pants on and continue.

I’m certain everyone experiences loss and death during their lives.  It’s part of life.  I get it.  I just don’t understand why it has to be so friggin’ hard or why there has to be so much of it.  I mean, you work your ass off and poof!  I learned a long time ago not to hold anything too tightly.  Never get so attached to a person, place or thing that their loss will destroy you.  Not that I haven’t been devastated many times over.  I have simply learned it’s an unavoidable part of life.  Still, this last couple of years, I’m starting to feel like I’m enduring my own personal seven plagues of the Apocalypse and I gotta say, even I have my limits.  I mean . . . really?  When is enough, enough?

Okay, the house burned . . . not all of it . . . what was left of the possessions went into the basement and rebuilding began.  Hey, I got a return on investment for years of insurance premiums.  The basement flooded . . . salvaged what can be saved and moved on.  I had to leave my job . . . so what, I had more time to deal with the rest of the chaos and I’ll get another.  Right?  Oh yeah, the cars that burned with the house and had to be replaced . . . was it really necessary for a tree to fly out of the sky and smash one to smithereens?  No problem, nobody was hurt.  Forget about the furnace that quit working . . . piece of cake . . . it doesn’t get THAT cold and what else are sweaters for anyway? 

It’s just stuff.  Belongings I loved and needed, but things that can be replaced to some degree . . . over time.  Fire, flood, storm, destitution and deprivation . . . did I leave anything out?  None of it is anything I’m gonna lose sleep over and the little every day disasters don’t even qualify for honorable mentions.  Would I have rather not have gone through it?  Of course . . . part-time loser, not mental defective with masochistic tendencies.  To hijack the old saying . . . been there; overcome(sic) that; got the t-shirt; and donated it to the Goodwill years ago.

I’ve got to say I’m having a bit of a problem with the pestilence.  I call it pestilence, but it’s really the black death of our generation . . . cancer.  It has struck all around me like a pharaoh’s curse.  I’ve thought perhaps it’s just that I’m getting old enough to start anticipating my friends and loved ones will start dropping like flies.  Hell, I’m not Methuselah, just your average middle-aged woman.  I’m not yet so elderly to begin a daily perusal of the obituaries to see who checked out today.  I wouldn’t think I should be partaking of that particular oldster’s pastime just yet.  Besides, it’s not the variety of health issues we expect our elders and peers to experience as youth fades.  It’s just freakin’ cancer.

I know I’m not alone in my struggle.  All you have to do is turn on the tube to see the extent of suffering in the world today.  The media frenzy is crushing with the 24-hour-a-day, play-by-play commentary of the havoc being wrought by man and mother nature . . . earthquakes, floods, tornados, hurricanes, draught, wild fires, oil spills, nuclear meltdowns, government breakdowns, stock market crashes, fiscal failure, home foreclosures, environmental devastation, starvation, terrorism, war, revolution, riots, child and drug abuse, murder and all manner of mayhem. 

We do seem to be circling the drain and I – for one – am getting pretty flippin’ tired of this crap.  Even I need a bit of down time between catastrophes and I’m better equipped to cope than most.  It is incomprehensible to me how some of the peoples of the world are managing to survive at all.  Almost everybody I know is experiencing tribulation of one sort or another.  No one’s sorrow is more or less significant than another’s.  When it happens to you, it is the worst thing you can imagine.

I’m making a formal request and sending out into the universe. 

Do you hear me higher power that I’m not sure how to address properly?  If you’re listening, I know a whole lot of us down here could use a break, so if you could/would . . . please.  I know I’d appreciate it.  We could use a hand, big time.  Anything would be a nice start.

While I’m waiting on an answer, I don’t plan to just sit on my duff.  I’m going to care for those in my charge as best I can; help others whenever and wherever I may; and try my damnedest to just breath.  To that end, I’m going to resurrect this all but abandoned blog.  Writing is precious to me and I love blogging.  I just let the calamities in my life squeeze it out.  I’m doing it for me and hope it will not be morbid and morose.  It may seem trivial to some, but there isn’t much I really have any control over these days.  This I do, so I will.

Dear Readers, I wrote this the end of September with the intent of posting it then but just kept putting it off.  I decided I had stalled long enough.  I don’t know if my higher power is working on getting us a little relief, but you all have been vital in my efforts to revive this blog.  MDR’s rebirth has exceeded my wildest imagining.  I will never be able to truly show you my appreciation, but I do . . . Thank you.

Note:  The first smart ass that points out there are only six plagues here will immediately have a plague visited on them.  I’ve already made the arrangements.

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