My friend Susan posted a photo on Facebook from her home in St. Croix. She and friends were preparing for a night kayak on one of just 14 bioluminescent bays in the world. They were going out under the new moon, she explained, for maximum visibility of the dinoflagellates and baseball-sized comb jellies that pulse and light.

Ho hum.

Big deal.

Who cares?

I had my own new moon plans. I was going out into the backyard to see if my moonflower vine was flowering. 

The Virgin Islands, Tulsa backyard — it’s all relative, you know what I’m saying? 

In Truman Capote’s masterful novella “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” when Holly Golightly (named Connie Gustafson in early drafts) was feeling awful she took a carton of coffee to window shop at the posh jewelry store. “Calms me down right away,” she says in the book. “The quietness and the proud look of it. Nothing very bad could happen to you there.” 

My own version of that is Saturday morning at my neighborhood Walgreens. At that time it’s monastically orderly, clean and still. I wander the aisles meditatively. 

If I need a second dose of calm, I go to my neighborhood library. Same vibe. Two oases in a neighborhood abuzz with leaf blowers and chain saws and hammering. Just — quiet. And a clean scent, unlike my house, which often smells like two big dogs, a cat, accumulated dust and last week’s pork chop. 

I seem to be on a continuing quest for serenity, but aren’t we all? The time we live in is as a jangled as a jug band. The universe seemed to recognize my need because one morning this quote — unattributed — popped up in my daily horoscope: “Fresh horses and more whiskey for my men.” 

Who said that? Someone told me it’s from a Toby Keith/Willie Nelson song, “whiskey for my men and beer for my horses.” News to me because I am not knowledgeable about country-western music. Here’s a story that proves it.

I was at a nonprofit seminar in middle Oklahoma where a socializing activity was for us to write down, anonymously, our favorite musician. The convener read out the answers: how many votes for Garth Brooks, how many for Reba McEntire, how many for Willie Nelson and others. Then she said — looking directly at me — “Only one vote for Mozart.” Then everyone looked at me. I’ve been stared at for worse reasons than Mozart. 

When we’re lost in the forest, stand still. When we’re grieving, do something. In nationally troubled times FDR said, “Above all, try something.” Whenever I’m reinventing myself, I take classes, go to seminars, attend lectures. Bonsai, Russian literature, nutrition — who cares? Lectures and classes are everywhere: the library, senior citizens centers, churches, the garden center. I took the same herbal vinegar class so often the teacher finally said, “Don’t you know how to do it by now?” “Yes,” I said. “I just like the class.”

I Googled (oh, the verb of our time) the horses/whiskey quote and discovered it is attributed to the Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest. Oh no, not him. As if I need to be pulled into another war. Most of the wars of my time have been losing ones: War on Drugs, War on Poverty, now the spreading Culture War and the insidious War on Common Sense. 

My young friend Electa Hare-RedCorn posted this beautiful sentiment on Facebook with an angelic photo of one of her daughters: “We are living through hard times and losing warriors every day to COVID and to heartbreak. I hope everyone is gentle with themselves today. That you find time to rest. And that we all get a little more comfortable with using our voice, our pens, and our votes to build and rebuild a world where our little ones are considered sacred beings once more. Peace be with your hearts and homes.”

Two things can be true at the same time. I’ll seek peace and I’ll have a battle cry, modified to avoid the Confederate affiliation. I’ll step out of my Saturday morning sanctuaries, take a deep breath and shout to the world, “Fresh horses!” Then I’ll run in a crouch to my car. Whew. Another successful outing.

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