New Shoes and a Louise Penny Novel

I’ve been struggling the last couple weeks. There’s been tragedy and killing, death and loss. There have been reminders that human life is fragile and short and I’m well beyond half-way through mine.

But in the middle of these morose musings I needed to get new shoes. It was time to make my yearly pilgrimage to the REI shoe department.

These days I have mixed feelings about going to REI. On the one hand, I love being surrounded by mountain people and mountain equipment and mountain clothes. On the other hand, I am not the person I was when I first visited REI all those years ago. I no longer have a need for new crampons or ice axes. There are no major mountain climbs on my horizon. I no longer fit in REI’s little clothes.

But I can still fit in REI’s shoes.

And so I presented myself to Jesse, a salesclerk in the shoe department. I could not have asked for a friendlier, more helpful clerk. I told her I’d worked at the old REI on Capitol Hill years ago, and we bonded in our REI kinship. She brought me three or four pairs of shoes until I found the just-right pair – a pair of shoes that made me feel like I was walking on clouds. A pair of shoes that made me want to run and skip and dance. A perfect pair of shoes.

When I went to the cashier to pay for the shoes, I told him that my dad had been one of the early members of REI. His REI membership number was 38, I told him. The cashier looked up #38 and found it belonged to someone else. Oops. So much for family legend. Hmmm… I gave the cashier my Mom and Dad’s old phone number and he clicked the number into his computer. He looked up and smiled and said that Dad’s number is 946 and that it’s still active! The idea of that really tickled me. Dad died almost three years ago – at the age of 101 – but his REI account lives on. How cool is that?! I said that 946 was still pretty good, right? And the cashier laughed with me and said, yeah, it was pretty good.

***
Louise Penny’s new book came out yesterday. I googled to see if there were any stores near me with her book in stock and, this morning, I went on a quest to our local Target to see if I could find one. I rushed to the books displayed in the front of the store – but no Louise Penny there. I hurried to the book department at the back of the store and scanned the books there – but no Louise Penny. Finally, I went to the customer service counter and inquired about the book – both the attendants there got on their phones to see if they could find any books in inventory, and pretty soon a nice young man told me that it looked like they should have some somewhere – maybe still in boxes in the back room. I told him Louise Penny’s books were great – funny and smart and kind – and I highly recommended them. He nodded and said he had some free audiobooks coming to him – maybe he’d get the audiobook version. He led me back to the book department and looked with me on the book shelves. Then he told me to wait there and he’d see if he could find what I was looking for in the back. A couple of minutes later he appeared with another Target employee, who immediately walked up to a book shelf and plucked Louise Penny’s book off of it for me! Hurrah!!!

***
I’ve started Louise Penny’s *A World of Curiosities* now. Eight pages in I come upon this:

“He held the younger man’s eyes, inviting him to set aside for a moment the great brutality that existed and to remember the acts of greater courage. Of integrity and decency. Of self-control.

“Of forgiveness.

“Not by moral giants, not performed by superhumans. These were men and women of human size and proportion. Some were cops. Some were not.

“What blinded us, he told Beauvoir, were the horrific acts. They threatened to overwhelm us and obscure the decency. It was so easy to remember the cruelty because those left a wound, a scab that hid the rest. Hid the best. But those appalling acts, those appalling people, were the exception.”
– Louise Penny

***
Just the words I needed to read today.

Karen Molenaar Terrell

“God is natural good… Truth should not seem so surprising and unnatural as error, and error should not seem so real as truth.”
-Mary Baker Eddy

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