(Lizard on my patio, JMN, photo)

In ‘09 I had congestive heart failure. Good medicine and doctoring fixed it. Over time my ejection fraction rebounded from fifteen (bad) to sixty (normal).

Since ‘10 an appliance that looks like a Zippo lighter rides subcutaneously near my left collarbone — a pacemaker/defibrillator. Three wires snake from it down through a vein to respective sides of my heart (many people need two wires, I need three). They make it beat nice and symmetrical. My cardiologist said, “We’re making your heart more efficient.” Right on.

The gadget has paced me transparently out of a couple of minor arrhythmia episodes I didn’t even know were happening. It has never had to deliver a shock. Knock on wood.

(Andrew, JMN, oil on canvas, 18 x 24 in. (C) 2018 James Mansfield Nichols. All rights reserved.)

This brings me to my dear neighbor who killed a snake in her yard yesterday. It was fat. She makes a circle with her indices and thumbs: This big. She didn’t know if it was poisonous or not. Who wants to find out? What if it bit one of the pet goats? Or the German shepherd? It lay in a puddle near the gate to the animals’ enclosure, latent with menace. It could’ve been dangerous, who knows? Best kill it.

And that brings me to the dairy farmers in Wisconsin who are contemplating having to slaughter portions of their herd because of a milk glut. “You can’t turn off the cows,” they say. Actually, if you kill a milk cow you’ve indeed turned her off.

In the continuum I inhabit with fellow creatures, I’m lucky to be a member of the species that decides what life is given and what life is taken. That’s as close as I can come at the moment to diluting sadness with celebration.

(C) 2018 James Mansfield Nichols. All rights reserved.

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day, and watch Netflix and Prime Video for entertainment. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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