Last Friday when I started my car this dashboard warning light became illuminated:
It was a light I’d never noticed before – one that had never lit up in any of our previous vehicles. Given the graphic representation of the warning light, I figured it was alerting me to one of three possible scenarios:
* WARNING! Someone is about to throw a beach ball at your lap!
* WARNING! The car’s airbag may be malfunctioning!
* WARNING! You have unexpectedly become nine months pregnant!
It turned out to be a loose connection in the passenger airbag wiring – dust it off and tighten the connection. However, almost everything auto-repair wise is electronic these days, and the mechanics had to run their special diagnostics program to discover this simple solution to what could have been a complex problem.
The minimum charge to run the diagnostics program is $120. That’s a grrrrr-worthy charge, but much less than it would have cost to fix a faulty airbag.  I decided to look on the bright side: such an expense is like a Kardashian – totally doable.
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Department of Simple Pleasures 
I made a new friend this week! 
I’m aware that this kind of announcement is something you’d expect from a five year old reporting the excitement of her first day at kindergarten…or, perhaps, from an adult flustered by unexpected good-fortune.
Guess what? It’s still exciting when it happens to a Person Of A Certain Age and, IMHO, carries even more import.
Observation: By the time you reach your 40s -50s, they’ve (mostly) become established in careers, neighborhoods, and in their family and social lives. If you value your friendships and in turn want to be a valued friend, you spend time cultivating and maintaining those relationships. If you wish to add someone to your buddy circle, your desire to do so doesn’t change certain natural world realities, like the earth’s rotation cycle. That is, there are still only 24 hours to a day, and still only so much time for each and every thing.
Not to get carried away or over analyze the phenomenon, but I’ve heard others my age bemoan the difficulties of meeting new people and getting to know them past a certain surface level of acquaintance. 
Once again, I digress.
The new friendship came about via a letter I wrote to The Oregonian, in response to a letter in that same’s op-ed section written by yet another blithering willfully ignorant religious idiot a sincere but sincerely misinformed man who claimed that our constitutional “freedom to believe what we want to believe” is a “religious idea.”
The Oregonian’s editors ran my letter, which they titled The US Constitution Mentions No God, For Good Reason , in the 2-28-16 print edition, and also online. The next day I received an email from my Soon To Be New Friend, who wondered if I was the same Robyn Parnell who’d written that letter and if so…
I’m writing just to thank you for stating so lucidly and concisely what so many people do not seem to understand regarding what the U.S. Constitution has to say about religion and gods.
Awww, shucks. He had me at lucid and concise,  and also when he went on to mention that I might be interested in the Freedom From Religion Foundation, an organization which works to promote and uphold the constitutional principle of separation of state and church. STBNF had no way of knowing that the FFRF is an organization I’ve mentioned many times is this blog, and which MH and I are longtime members of.
I responded to STBNF, and we began exchanging emails, discovering other common interests and perspectives. Besides being an intelligent, witty, perspicacious, charitable and socially responsible freethinker, STBNF is also a writer (whose works,  I’d wager, truly merit praise ala lucid and concise). Also like moiself, STBNF has written a self-described “bad” country western-type song…although, unlike moiself, STBNF has actual, demonstrable, musical talent.
STBNF and I met in person this week, for a two hour chat fest lunch. He has offered to possibly help me with a demo of my song, and I have introduced him to the wonderful world of footnotes.  I seem to have (so far) gotten the best of this deal.
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Department of BTW
I like Sally Field. I really (sorry) like her.
* * *
One afternoon about a year and a half ago, MH told me that, in case I hadn’t noticed, he’d stopped wearing his wedding ring…and in case I had noticed, he wanted to assure me as to why. A combination of The Aging Process © and decades of tapping digits on keyboards had given him arthritis-like symptoms, specifically pain and swelling in his fingers. He removed his ring, hoping that doing so might alleviate the pain, and fearing that if the swelling increased and he left it on, he might have to have the ring cut off.
I hadn’t noticed his wedding band-less finger. After his revelation I decided to commiserate with his situation in the only way that seemed logical to me: by removing my own ring. This has caused just a wee bit o’ eyebrow-raising from people who’ve noticed. I assuage such concerns thusly: my removing my wedding band is not a harbinger of marital discord; rather, it’s a reinforcement of its importance and mutuality.
Up until my marriage I’d never worn rings of any kind – unless you count the Man From Uncle spy decoder ring I had for two weeks in the fifth grade.
MH and are both married (to each other – how convenient!). I have always refused to be unequally yoked: We chose our wedding rings together; neither of us wore an engagement ring. I would have gently but firmly refused to wear an engagement ring had MH given one to me,  unless he had also agreed to don a similar ring.
I’d never understood the practice of a woman wearing an engagement ring while the man’s ring finger remains unencumbered, except as a nod to our culture’s pathetic history of patriarchy. The solo engagement ring tradition is, to me, a vulgar declaration of possession (See the ring? She’s taken; she’s off the market; she’s mine), akin to a dog pissing around a fence post to mark his territory.
Yep, I’m a hopeless romantic, what can I say?
Look: you’re both engaged to be married, right? So why the visual representation of the impending change in marital status only for the woman? Which got me wondering: how do gay couples handle this issue? 
Speaking of vulgar, despite the stereotype of the ring-coveting female, I’ve yet to have a woman flaunt her engagement ring to me. I have, however, lost track of the number of times I’ve been at a social gathering, been introduced to an engaged couple and had the guy grab his fiance’s left hand, thrust it in my face and demand I admire the huge rock on her finger.
Uh, yeah, dude, I get it: the size of her ring is inDICKative of the size of your ____ (paycheck; ego; penis).
A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, I spent many years working in women’s reproductive health care, wherein I encountered several married couples who did not wear wedding rings. The no-ring-thing was sometimes for job-related reasons (rings can be safety hazards for jewelers, mechanics and others who work with their hands), sometimes due to dermatologic allergies, and for women, sometimes due to pregnancy-induced swelling (which occasionally led to a permanent change in ring size).
I’ve met more than one married couple who’ve chosen to have their wedding bands tattooed on their fingers. Belle, my tattoo-loving daughter, thinks MH and I should do likewise, and has volunteered to draw up a design for us, based on our original gold bands.
I thanked my lovely and talented daughter for her generous offer, even as I reminded her that her father’s twin aversions – tattoos and pain – make such an idea unlikely to translate into a reality. Perhaps if it were someplace on a less sensitive part of the body….
* * *
May life’s warning lights be entertaining as well as informative;
May your friendships be ever evolving and your yokes be equal,
and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Which is, of course, past warranty.
 Which may also include gardening, flower arranging, sitting over the drain in the bathtub when the water runs out….
 Yep, I’m talking about you, KW.
 The friendly man in your pottery class or the genial woman who volunteers alongside you at the Food Bank.
 Two adjectives not frequently applied to descriptions of my prose.
 That is, their usage in personal correspondence and blog posts. As a writer of nonfiction and technical manuals, he is already well versed in documentation.
 He didn’t, as he knew my feelings on the matter.
 Lemme guess: with a lot more panache than us straight folks.