Monday, June 27, 2022

I decided to cross post some of my flash fiction from "BoZone Too". Not sure why.

 The Prediction Weekly Writing Challenge

for Thursday June,16, 2022 - midnight GMT 

100 word maximum - Three words - Available, Third, Yoke

The Secret of God

Eons before any other species began to gain self awareness, our kind learned in their third epoch the most efficient method for conquering the Universe.

It wasn’t with grand, extravagant, expensive violence. No.  Cost too many lives. Instead, we learned unexpected and unseen infiltrations were consistently more successful at bringing another race or planet under our yoke.

Our asteroid will collide with Planet 13 in Quadrant 2334 soon. There will be no need to prepare to land. Available DNA strands safely ensconced deep inside this rock will ensure a successful conquest.

Patience and time is all that is needed now.

 _______________________________

So, for this post, I had to include two musical choices :

"Galaxy Song" - Monty Python

&

"Space Oddity" - a one off cover by Astronaut Chris Hadfield in 2013

Monday, June 20, 2022

The Long Goodbye

Recurring participation meme's slide through my Facebook feed on a daily basis. Most are silly challenges or questions that I answer or hardly notice.

Then there are the meme's or posts if you will, that work hard to catch my heart and tear into it. Abused pets, starving children, health issues no one would wish on anyone. The list of heart rending stories is endless.

It seems most of us pass them by with nothing more than a glance; maybe a "like" or if we really read the captions and felt a connection, we might punch the "caring" emoji or the "sad" emoji shedding a tear. If  we feel our gut wrench, we might comment and then move on. Very few of us seem willing to take the minute it takes to share that meme that latched onto our heart strings. But never fear, because there are umpteen billion people using Facebook, the sad tale will be seen and felt by somebody.

Of course many of the cool kids; the influencers, the social media butterflies of Facebook and Twitter seem to consider sharing sappy meme's that show compassion and empathy of any kind for average Joes and Janes as exercise for losers. Unless it is about their favorite pop idol, reality show matriarch, or some other mud cricket personality, they are oblivious. They are the the really important folk who admire empty headed do nothings always embroiled in soap opera drama conjured up by their producers. They are the clowns who are worthy of our attention and idolatry.

I actually started this post a couple of months ago. For some reason I did not finish it. I had given it a title and added a picture of my mother in law who passed thirty years ago. The image and the title did give me a hint at what I had in mind when I started it.

My father died on the kitchen floor in the house I live in today. He died laughing from a massive coronary as my mother looked on from across the kitchen table. There was no time to say goodbye, no lengthy trip to death's door. We did not sit and commiserate watching a loved one slowly die of .......... there are so many choices, pick one.

As shocking and painful as my father's death was with its "here today, gone tomorrow" unpredictability, I think he was lucky. I cannot imagine a better way to die than with a smile on my face. We should all be so lucky.

And then there are the infinite number of ugly and unfair ways to die. Of them all, I consider death following a period of Alzheimer's/ Dementia to possibly be the cruelest death of all. To know your mind is going and also know there is no help that will do anything but maybe prolong the process, well, like I said, there is nothing crueler than existing in a an capricious atmosphere of on again, off again clarity.

The callous indifference of Alzheimer's I would not wish this on anyone. It is hard on the folks suffering from it and hard on the loved ones they leave in their wake as they slowly disappear into, well, I guess no one knows where they go. My mother in law's last years were suffered under the dementia cloud.  What was really sad was she remembered me, her son in law, but not my wife, her daughter. I could not imagine, I could only watch.

Keep it 'tween the ditches .........................................

____________________________

Music for this post  ................ Hmm. Well, it appears others have already traveled this path; this path for tunes to ease the anxiety and emotions of experiencing or watching someone we love slowly disappear until only a physical caricature remains. It is called "Music for Dementia Patients" . It is a top ten list. I picked Ben E. King's "Stand By Me"



Wednesday, June 15, 2022

The New American Idiots

I would love to pat myself on the back for being able to fight the good fight against Right Wing lies, deceits, rampant hypocrisy, and yes, even treasonous behavior since Reagan and his evil bride Nancy first squatted in the White House in January, 1981. 

I look back on those times as idyllic compared to the horror show we have now forty one years later. At least in the 1980s, 1990s and the first few years of the new century, once the leaders from both sides of the aisle had beaten their favorite dead horses and championed their partisan views, they often found common ground, met in the middle and moved this country forward. 

Bipartisanship was a real thing back then. 

Now, twenty years later, any hope of cooperation from the Right has totally vanished. Any hope of the Left growing some balls has evaporated also. What we have today is an intractable gridlock that is exactly what the Right wanted. America is now controlled lock, stock and barrel by a nasty selfish minority while the Left stands on the sidelines wringing their hands and whining like little bitches.

The party of No, the GOP, has successfully ground the USA to a halt and are now busy demolishing any remnants of our great past in order to turn this country into a fiefdom for God and the Fortune 500. In the meantime, the Right has convinced enough of the their brain dead followers that feeding the Fortune 500 is the most patriotic thing they can do. It is sad so many people in this country are so stupid.

And though I blame the Right for most of the political and social carnage that has swept the land these past two decades, they could not have done it without the unforced errors committed by the Left. Instead of focusing on the issues swirling around the center, the Left allowed their fringe to push the agenda of social progress rather than the nuts and bolts of political realities. While Left Wingers are more likely to lend a sympathetic ear to the needs of exploited and forgotten populations, they can't do anything if they don't have a solid majority that has to include as much of the Center as possible. Policy and progress has to come from the center moving outwards, not shrinking from the edges in.

What it boils down to is The Right are mean, stupid bullies. The Left are a bunch of Nancies who are scared of the Winger bullies on the other side of the aisle. And frankly I am fed up with the both of them. And now that Maine has passed a law creating semi-open primaries for the 2024 election cycle, I am dropping the D next to my name on the voting rolls and replacing it with an I. 

Up until the Right went totally off the rails, I would often vote for the candidate and not the party. Beginning in 2008 I became a straight ticket voter. I voted against rather than for. No Republican has had my support since then. And now that I can vote in primary elections as an unaffiliated voter, I am all done with the Democrats except on election days. My votes from now on will always be against the Right, no matter who is running.

I am so, so very tired of the two party scam that has this country by its short hairs.

Fuck the Right.

Later .....................................................

________________________________

"American Idiot", by Green Day fits so well in the current cluster fuck that is America today. That Green Day released this song in 2004 points out how the cluster fucking began long, long ago. 


"American Idiot", Lyrics

Songwriters: Michael Pritchard / Billie Joe Armstrong / Frank Wright
American Idiot lyrics © W.b.m. Music Corp., Green Daze Music


Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Finally, a Local Youngster to Vote For.

It's Primary Day here in Maine. Maine is not an open primary state. That is, only registered Republicans or registered Democrats can vote for members of their own party. 

But in 2024, Maine will hold semi-open primaries allowing unaffiliated voters to vote for whoever they want. The semi open title indicates that Republicans and Democrats still have to vote in their party's primary. They cannot cross over.

I think a totally open primary would be better, but what we have is what we have. And bringing in semi-open primaries is way better than the old system. 36% of Maine voters list themselves as Independents. Allowing them to vote in primaries will have a major impact on who runs in the general elections. Participation of unaffiliated voters will offer up a truer representation of where the political winds blow and will enhance the power of a huge group of voters who were previously muzzled by self the serving political rules set up by the Democrats and Republicans. It is time for the two party system to choke and die on the vine.

But I did not mean to go on about our system here in Maine. It has actually worked pretty well over the years; certainly more equitably than many other states. And in 2024, it will be even better.

So this morning the plan called for a good walk with Maggie and Sammie (my daughter and son in law's dog ). Ever since our previous dog, Stubby, lost her leg to a speeding car fifteen or so years ago, I have come up with a ritual that never varies when escorting fur buddies across Sam Page Road to head into Mary's Park. 

It was 5:30 AM and even though there was little chance of traffic, I took them to the edge of the road, gave them a sit command, unleashed Maggie and told them both to continue to sit. Neither of them like to park their butts on sand, but eventually they complied. After exaggerated looks both ways, I said, "Okay". Maggie was across the road in a flash and Sammie the Pit/Bull mix did his best to dislocate my shoulder or rip my arm off;  he didn't care which. He's such a big doofus.

This morning however I noticed someone had planted a political sign in front of my property. At first I assumed my wife had okay-ed it. When we got back to the house and my wife finally made an appearance around 6:30 AM, she assured me no one had asked her for permission.

With a healthy head of steam pumping up my righteous indignation I fussed and fumed my way out to the road, yanked that damn sign out of the ground and brought it back to the house. My wife agreed it was bush league to place a sign without permission but offered up;

 "We don't know who put it there; calm down ferchrisakes."

Yeah well, she can be a pain in the ass like that and it really pisses me off when she so rudely talks me out of a righteous moment of anger. But when she's right, I find caving is easier than the alternative. So I made some coffee instead; then sat at the computer and did some googling.

Daniel Norwood is an interesting candidate in these here parts. He came here to Acton from Guatemala as a youngster. How young I am not sure. But his history is that of 29 year old man who has actively sought public service for many years. This run for Maine Senate is his first shot at elected office. He is not the typical town politician who is trying to move up to the bigger pond in Augusta. Finally we have a candidate who challenges the traditional white, straight, Gen-xer or Boomer clone we seem to pump out every other election. He pushes our comfort zone and I love it.

I watched his You Tube video and was impressed with his thoughtful notions regarding privilege and the reason his placard is purple. We later swapped some messages and I let him know about how not to anger folks by planting signs without permission. It may be legal, but it is stupid to not ask first.

Anyhow, Daniel's entry into state politics from our district is bound to bunch some panties on both sides of the aisle. Daniel does not care. He realizes this election is but part of his learning curve, some of the dues he will have to pay to climb the political ladder. He seems to be in it for the long game. No matter how it turns out for Daniel this election, Maine has not seen the last of him. I am voting for him. He is the sign of things to come and we had better get used to Millennial's and all their new fangled ways.  

Keep it "tween the ditches ................................................

____________________________

There was only one tune I thought of. Again a song from my youth seems more appropriate today than back in the day. Here is Bob Dylan singing "The Times They Are A - Changin" . Recorded in 1964 I think before he went electric.


Tuesday, June 07, 2022

How Despots Are Made

Today.com ran a very short news item about former Marine, Ben Beers, giving up his custom AR-15 because as he put it:

"I've never used them for self-defense and, to me, it's a token of pure evil and destruction."

I make no judgement on his actions one way or the other. The man obviously had finally had his fill of the outrageous number of mass shootings lately that have occurred at a rate of more than one per day in this country. 

What I found interesting was the predictable Gun Lover excuses that without a doubt justify their ownership of weapons of war. 

On Twitter, where I first came upon this news piece, John, a gun worshiping Twitter tweeter, did not try to use the "AR-15 are hunting rifles" excuse. His statement made it clear that in his hands, the AR-15 was a weapon of defense against a government already out of control:

"It's not about hunting its about defending ourselves against the government from overthrowing the people which is starting to happen people. Wake up people! George Washington forwarned us about this."

Which brings me to the point of the post.

Though, both the Right and the Left lay claim to knowing what our forefathers meant when they thought, said or wrote this or that. The truth is we will never know exactly what their honest feelings were in any given situation. So to me, the words they left lying around for us to pick up and interpret are just that, nothing but interpretations based on wishful thinking of the person invoking the words.

Once the American Revolution was over, our forefathers became what they started out as when they congregated in Philadelphia to write the Declaration of Independence. The became politicians again. And if there is one truth about politicians that has always been part of their makeup, it is always take anything they say with a grain of salt. And regarding what they write, well, their written words cannot be counted on as their true feelings when anything they publish has a political taint to it. 

So, when John claimed George Washington "forewarned us about this", I snorted and chuckled. I do not give a shit about what George Washington said or did not say. I worry about what our current George Washingtons, our current Adolf's, and our current Putin's are saying, writing, and most of all I am really interested in what they are doing right now here in the present.

But if John, my gun loving twit from Twitter wants to battle with the words or warnings of our forebears, I leave with this quote from Ben Franklin, one of the sharper arrows in the Revolution quiver:

"I agree to this Constitution ... and I believe, further, that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other."  ( From Here)

Keep it 'tween the ditches ...............................................
____________________________

I picked " Knockin On Heaven's Door", the original by Bob Dylan. Hated the movie, love the song.


Saturday, June 04, 2022

Learning to Not Be So White


It took most of a lifetime for him to realize many of the riches he had been blessed with were based on his skin color. He was born pale and hairless; a puny lump of puking, shitting, totally dependent squirmy piece of flesh. But he happened to be White. His chances of good luck in his future were higher right out of the gate than the life prospects of the black, brown and yellow people living down back roads that crossed defining tracks separating Humanity into various groups based on imagined figments of superiority or inferiority.

It did not take him many years to believe his color, his race defined his greatness. The traditions of his ancestors insisted on their supremacy from centuries of exploiting folks whose only weakness was slower technical development. In his child like ignorance, he used his luck of the draw advantages as his due. Subjugating others became not an evil, but business as usual. He even convinced himself he was doing all the unwashed masses a huge favor by allowing them to bask in his White greatness.

And now multiple generations later, the unwashed masses have caught up and are insisting on the real equality they feel is owed them after so many years of exploitation. The latest progeny of the White Culture looks on a landscape his ancestors never envisioned. All around him the bedrock philosophy of his race is being attacked. His knee jerk reaction was it is an unfair and unwarranted surprise attack on him personally, using the evil committed by his White ancestors as an excuse.

Had not his forebears passed laws that turned the masses into humans just like him? Had not advantages he had never been given been bestowed gratis on the multi-colored rabble? Wasn't he and his race to be given credit where credit was due? Why were they still bitching? 

The White Man could not see past his anger over their lack of gratitude. He did not, could not, would not recognize the fact that passing laws and refraining from racial slurs was not enough. The reality was all those moments of progressive racial and ethnic actions were in reality turning out to be but window dressing disguising the ingrained racist history many white folk did not even know still existed.

The unwashed masses were still angry, still ungrateful. And White Folk all over the land were perplexed and soon many became angry and re-located their White Legacy of embedded racial hate. Not enough made any effort to walk in the shoes of the unwashed masses. They just hunkered down with their White hate and dug out Great, Great  Grand Dad's Confederate flag and dangled it from their pick up truck; all the while failing to acknowledge just how lucky they were to be White. They did not realize that just being White automatically removes much of the baggage the unwashed masses are saddled with the day they are born. 

The White Man liked to consider himself a fair man, an empathetic man, a man who was concerned about his fellow man. Slowly he began to calm down and tried to look at the new culture of racism from outside his classic clueless and skewed White perceptions. 

Inch by inch, article by article, speech by speech, he began to question the legacy that had been handed him from his White ancestors. He knew they had probably been good people who thought they were in the right. But he began to understand that racial superiority is ingrained so deeply, it would be years after he was dead and gone before it was resolved.

In the meantime, he vowed to try and not be the White Man he used to be.

Keep it 'tween the ditches ................................................

__________________________

Not sure I want to find a song that would be appropriate to the post. But I have created a tradition such as it is with a musical number to go with the post. 

I thought finding an appropriate tune would take some serious screening of more than a few tunes. But I picked the first one I listened to. Here is Billie Holiday singing, "Strange Fruit" .

Something most White Folk never had to consider for their kind.



Friday, June 03, 2022

Slugfest

Slugs .................... there is not much I can say in defense of slugs. They look slimy and are slimy. If that slime gets on you, even soap and a scrub brush may not get rid of it anytime soon.

Slugs it seems, are predisposed to bypass the immeasurable tasty tidbits they wake up next to every day and head right to any plantings a human has carefully laid down in sweetened soil.  It does not seem to matter what plants are sown, as long as human hands had anything to do with their existence. Slugs are going to find them and have their slimy way with them.

I have been battling slugs for, well, forever I guess.  As a wee tacker, I was tasked to perform daily slug patrols in Dad's various gardens.  Dad has since passed onto the great beyond, but the task of slug patrol continues unabated.  

If the little bastards would wait until the seedlings gained some girth as well as some height, I might not hate them so much.  But they insist on going after the children.  This will not stand.

I have learned a few things over the years about slugs and how to keep them at bay:

The beer in a cup trap is a bad idea.  While it is somewhat heart warming to come out to the garden and see cups full of dead drunken slugs, I figured out that the beer was drawing more of them in than if I had not put any beer out in the first place.  More coming in meant more getting to my plants to ply their evil ways.

I tried commercial remedies a couple of times.  It might be my imagination, but once I was sure I saw a couple of slugs hiding at the shadowy edge of the garden chuckling and poking each other as they watched me plop down a store bought slug trap.

The only technique that works for me is to get physical and put myself in harm's way to defend that which I have struggled so hard to create.  When I was young, I would pick them up and toss them in a can to be thrown in the garbage after Dad poured a small dose of kerosene in the bucket.  So of course, I would have slug slime all over and then bring it into the house.  Slug slime in the house does not a happy Mom make.

I tried just stomping on them.  Sure, it killed them, but leaving a carcass was just an enticement to all the slug hordes waiting in the shadows.  And often I would end up with them stuck to my shoes and they would end up in the house.  Dead slugs in the house does not a happy wife make.

Over the years I have altered my approach.  Now I use a scraper to scoop them up.  Instead of disposing of them, I give them another chance at Life, but from a new location.  I fling them as far away from the garden as I can.  I have gotten pretty handy with that scraper.  They might find their way back, but I am sure it takes them more than a day or two. And this has been the most effective slug deterrent I have found.

Anyway, just a few words regarding slugs.  As integral parts of Nature's clean up crew, I guess they deserve a modicum of respect.  But only if they stay out of my garden.

Keep it 'tween the ditches ...............................................
______________________________________

Tune for this post is an appropriate choice....... "Hey Slug" by Sarah Maddack



Thursday, June 02, 2022

A Conversation With J

J is not a rabid, foaming at the mouth Right Winger. I think he hovers around the middle like I used to. I generally respect Jeff’s opinions, no matter how far out in Left field they occasionally are. Hell, I often find myself deep in Left Field myself, so who am I to look down on another human with definite opinions of their own?

What follows is a rendering of a Facebook conversation we had a few days back that was initiated by the image to the right. I posted the image without comment on my Facebook page.

J's First Response

These statements are so extreme. Does anybody want their child to come home in a body bag? No they just have different ideas about what to do about it.

My 1st Response to J

 I notice you did not mention "does anyone not want their child to look at a rainbow flag". In my mind, the Right's absolute over the top exaggerated indignation over almost everything the Left says, does, or even hints at sets the tone for the over the top response by the Left. And it is about time the Left gave as good it has had to eat the last decade. Fuck the Right.

J's Next Comeback 

 I didn't mention that because my point leans neither left nor right. Your defense of the left going rabid because the right is rabid (I'll give you that one) indicates and my sensors agree... "Ok , I realize, tensions are high"... What about that rainbow flag though. Well I neither want it forced down anyone's throat and I do not want schools which are already messed up in teachers which are already underpaid to teach my child sexuality ever, nor did I inundate with my children with a lot of sexual information you just need to cover the basics and make them understand their body is their own and all of that sort of thing. As for the gay kids in school they can start using the law and if people commit assault on them they can press charges or they can maybe they can call me you know the A team.

I think I Feel a Roll Coming On

Are rainbow flags as big a deal as insurrection? Is mentioning, just mentioning "Critical Race Theory" as big a threat as denying women autonomy over their bodies? There are so many stupid things the Right has their panties in a bunch over that are nothing but false flags designed to keep real progress from happening just because the suggestion for that progress was initiated by the Left. 

I am fed up with giving the Right any slack. I am fed up trying to understand their points. Their points make no sense and are nothing less than bullshit designed to hurt the Left, but in reality only hurt the country as a whole. Flying a rainbow flag in no way teaches children to be gay. Wishing there were some kind of common sense rules about guns and their usage does not mean everyone on the Left wants to "take away our guns". 

The Right is chock full of cowards who, instead of creating that heroic warrior culture you seem to embrace, instead are creating a cowardice culture where the only courage recognized is the false courage that comes from the end of a gun.

The online back and forth with J ended here. At least for the moment anyway. 

<*>

I mean every nasty, vindictive word I wrote about the Right. As long as they continue to be deceitful, dishonest, unethical and selfish, I have no interest in meeting them "halfway". Halfway to a Right Winger is only one way; Their way or the highway. And I am sick of it.

Later ............................................

____________________________________

I picked a tune that in today's over heated political discourse could be embraced by either the Right or the Left. It is also a tune that is more relevant today than it was when it was recorded 22 years ago.

"My Way" - Limp Bizkit





Wednesday, June 01, 2022

Shy Orchids

 This morning around 5:15 AM my smart phone told me it was a comfortable 48' F outside. I checked my real thermometers attached to the house and the phone's claim was in the ball park. It was also overcast with no wind out there. The 48' F chill would most likely keep the biting bugs in bed longer than usual. It was perfect dog walking weather. Maggie and I hit the trail over to Mary's Park about 5:20 AM. 

Early morning walks are my favorite when I can muster my sorry ass out there to enjoy them. No matter what excuse I might use to find something else to do, I know that if I walk, my day is already starting with a best foot forward action. And Maggie, she's beside herself with joy when she sees me put on my hat and grab the leash with outdoor collar attached. She will do her best to place that collar on by herself, but her other animated movements, the jumping, snorting and whining often make the routine a real clown show.

The usual procedure is I walk Maggie on the leash to the edge of Sam Page Road.  Pulling at the leash, it usually takes me two r three "Sit" commands before she obeys. I go through exaggerated motions of looking Right and then Left, while verbally reinforcing the rules of safely crossing the road. And as usual, Maggie sits and looks at me thinking, "Get on with it Asshole, I have scents to chase." Making sure she is on board with the safety tip, I release the leash, tell her "wait" and when the road is clear, which at five in the morning, it usually is, well, I motion with my hand and she bolts across the road and runs in circles while I saunter across the road.

So we began our walk, or rather I strolled in a classic rendition of an old man shuffle while Maggie bolted, sprinted, turned on dimes and 2 minutes in, her tongue was already hanging close to the pine needles. A happier dog did not exist in that moment. By walk's end I am sure the difference in MPH and distance traveled between us was at least 6 to 1; advantage - Maggie. 

The cooler morning gave her more energy. And to that point, it also did the same for me. I am sure if I had kept track, I would have ended with a faster time and a longer distance than any walk this Spring. I was smokin, drivin hard. Must have been averaging 1/2 MPH at least. ... No Boast. Really...... Stop shakin your heads. 

As fast as I was turning over those RPM's, it is a wonder I was able to catch glimpse of my first "Pink Lady's Slipper"of the year. So many years prior I did not see one until well into June and sometimes I only noticed them by their absence. Come and gone long before I thought about them.

They are more often spotted as solo acts.  This year I screeched to a halt in a prime location in which to find these illusive beauties. My conscious stop based on previous experience was this was possibly ground zero. I found a half dozen within a 20 square feet or so area. Tomorrow I will look for more. If memory serves, the most Pink Lady Slippers I have found over to Mary's Woods is 14. And this morning I hit almost half that with 29 more days to go to find more.

Lady Slippers are a wild orchid family found throughout at least the northern states. I used to think they only came in three colors,; Pink (the most common), White and Yellow. Apparently I am wrong. According to the U.S. Forest service, there are 11 varieties of Slippers. And the one I have always known as the Pink Lady's Slipper is also called the Moccasin Flower. 

They don't just grow anywhere, what with being fussy about soil nutrients, soil consistency, amount of sunlight needed and I think they just choose to locate few and far between. Spotting one always makes me smile.

Now I can't wait for the other orchid I look for to flower. The Rattle Snake Hawkweed in its own way is as beautiful as the Lady Slipper and even more infrequent and shy. They will start budding up in August.

Both plants are not protected here in Maine. There is no penalty for uprooting them and attempting to plant them in a yard. But from what I have heard, successfully transplanting them is more often than not a big fail. So, please don't yank them. Don't be a Bush Leaguer. Leave them alone and let them pose for your cameras. 

Watching Nature always ends up being a more positive experience for me than most anything else I can do outside the privacy of my own home. ...... Stop Snickering dammit!

Keep it 'tween the ditches .....................................

__________________________

Musical choice this morning is of course Tom Petty's "Wildflowers"


Monday, May 30, 2022

Memorial Day 2022


Memorial Day. I cannot remember if I have ever written anything about Memorial Day on or near Memorial Day. Just to cover my bases, here is a post on Memorial Day about the Memorial Day I am experiencing.

I began and mostly finished a long, somewhat detailed post honoring family members and friends who spent time as warriors defending the honor of the United States. It was in the neighborhood of 2500 words at least. The whole time I was writing it my focus was on telling their story instead of honoring their sacrifice. I finished it, checked it over, and set it in the out tray I keep handy somewhere in my mind. I had every intention of just punching "publish" and then moving on with my day.

I made the mistake, which I often do, of one last proofread this morning with my first cup of coffee. Halfway through, I stopped reading and started a new post, which you see right here in front of you. All those other words I wrote yesterday for today are headed to the trash can. I didn't slave over them or anything. I don't slave over words. Writing words are a pleasure and there are always more where the trashed ones came from.

So, its Memorial Day and I would like to honor some family and a friend for their efforts to defend our country and its ideals.

Uncle George - WW II - Was a B-17 pilot captured by the Japanese when the Philippines fell on my birthday, April 9, 1942. He survived beatings, starvation, disease, the Bataan Death March and the Hell Ships. He was freed weighing in at less than 100 pounds in the Fall of 1944. Though he lived another 44 years, he was never the same, emotionally or physically. He may not have died, but he certainly sacrificed of his body and soul for us.

Uncle Herb - WW II - Spent his war island hopping in the Pacific as a Marine. He never once opened his mouth about his experience in my presence. I tried to quiz him when I was maybe ten and my brain was chock full of damn the torpedoes, John Wayne heroic fantasies I had enjoyed at Saturday matinees. I remember him just sitting for some moments and then quietly saying something like, "Nobody should have to experience war." And that was all I ever got out of him. My aunt did say, after he returned from the Pacific he never slept more than three or four hours a night the rest of his life. 

My father -WW II - An Army Air Corp observation pilot who came through WW II unscathed physically. The mental and emotional price, well, he came out of his thirty-one year Air Force career an Old Grand Dad whiskey bottle a day alcoholic. He lived life hard and kept his military tales to himself. Stiff upper lip shit. He was indeed a tough man.

Brother Doug - Vietnam years - Doug lucked out I guess. He missed Nam and spent his time in the Army mostly in Germany translating radio transmissions from East Germany to other parts of the globe. But serving is serving and his time and efforts deserve some props just like the others.

Rich, my junkie buddy - Vietnam Years - When I had fallen into the dark world of  intravenous drug use in the summer of 1970, I bought some smack from a fellow who was just back from Vietnam a few months earlier. We became needle buddies. He had gotten hooked in Nam and constantly whined about the quality of the Heroin in the States, but would never talk about his time or what he did in Nam. One day I climbed on the back of Rich's 440 BSA one lung-er and rode down with him to Dupont Circle in DC and scored some H. He dropped me off at home and then motored out of my life. He was found dead the next day with a needle still in his arm. 

I always felt Rich gave his life for us, it just took him until he had been home a couple of years.

Bobbie my nephew - Iraq- 2005 - Perhaps losing Bobbie was the biggest blow to me. He and my daughter Lis were only months apart in age. I will always remember him as a child and never as a man. And that always makes me deeply sad.

These are the people in my life whose lives were profoundly changed by America at War. These are the people in my life who willingly took that challenge on their shoulders and carried it as far as they could. 

That's it I guess; my token gesture this Memorial Day to help me and anyone who reads this to understand that no matter how we feel about war, we all owe someone who went to war a deep gratitude for standing up for us when their time came.

Keep it 'tween the ditches ...........................................

_____________________________

Its a two fer this post. Otherwise - "Soldiers" and The Doors - "The Unknown Soldier"



Friday, May 27, 2022

The Redundancy of Bad News

I often write by using one train of thought as my introduction and then following up with the next thought, and then the next thought. By the second or third paragraph and many trains of thought have left my station, I finally grab one and hold on. It is as if I have to sift through the confusion swirling inside my brain before I manage to find a point I can focus on.

This post is a perfect example. 

When I woke up this morning after a fitful night of intermittent interruptions to my sleep, I knew I wanted to write about this latest mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas. And now I am hoping to write about the growing redundancy of really bad news on an almost daily basis. And with the ugly occurrences of evil crossing our news screens 24/7 now, many of us have become numb and the death of 22 people is nothing but SSDD ( Same Shit, Different Day).

There is nothing I can say or write that I haven't already written regarding the horror of mass shootings. My first memory of writing about mass shootings was the Virginia Tech mass shooting in 2007 that left 32 people dead. I am as horrified as I was then, but now my horror has become so common place to deal with, all I can do is maybe feel some deep sadness and a twinge of guilt over what I have no clue. All I know is, in a week I will be horrified again by some new catastrophe and Uvalde will begin to fade into my sunset as Buffalo has done since Uvalde.

I so want to write the same boiler plate anguished anger I always have. But I won't. It does nothing to fix the problem. Venting does not make me feel better anymore. And frankly, I think all of us are so weary of this constant barrage of not just bad news, but explosively evil news of humans doing their evil best to ruin all of our days. 

And maybe what I am so very, very heartbroken over is the rising pace of bad news redundancy. We can't catch our breath anymore. Wars, pandemics, mass shootings fill our days now. Is this the future of Life here in the States? Tell you what, if it is a sign of things to come, then I am just happy I am on the down stroke of my time on this tortured rock.

I just took a lunch break. While stuffing a sandwich in my pie hole, I watched and listened to a news interview of Texas State Senator, Roland Gutierrez(D) whose home area is Uvalde ( District 19). His obvious pain and anguish broke through any numbness I was busy erecting to defend myself from the after effects of this tragedy. He lost it and began blubbering and then so was I.

This is all so sad. This is all so hopeless it seems. There are literally no words I can come up with.

Later ................................................

PS

Some facts as reported by Reuters

___________________________________

My song pick is a repeat from another time. It is a cover of "Over the Rainbow", by IZ
I dunno, it just seemed somehow appropriate.



Sunday, May 22, 2022

A Sunday, Long, Long Ago

I tried hard to get out of going to church that Sunday so long, long ago. My mom came into my room wearing her Sunday best and literally tried to drag me out of bed. I resisted by grabbing the headboard. 

"Mom, I feel sick, really sick. ........ Here, feel my head."

For once I was not using the "I'm sick" routine to avoid giving God his/her weekly due. I was actually ill; stomach gurgling, head on fire ill. 

Seems I had overstepped my reliance on that lie too often in the past. She was having none of it. She was determined to see me in church wearing that new suit she made me try on at Penny's the previous week.

"I did not get up early and spend an hour putting on my face to let you laze away this beautiful Sunday morning. Now, get up or I call your father."

Invoking the threat of my father's wrath indicated a level of commitment on her part I could not ignore.

"Okay, okay, I'm getting up."

Mom turned and started to leave my room but stopped at the door way. She turned around, leaned into the jam and focused her best evil eye on me. I did my best to respond in kind. But I was not up to the task. I capitulated, averted my gaze and threw one leg over the edge of the bed signalling my honest intention to get up. 

"Really Mom, I will be down soon."

Still burning a hole through me with that eye of hers, "Nah, I don't trust you. You'll go back to sleep before I make it to the kitchen. I am standing right here and watching you get dressed."

I went into immediate panic mode. It had been at least a few years since my mother watched me get dressed. I had become used to the security and safety of my own space. To add to my discomfort over dressing in front of my mother was I was a prepubescent boy just beginning to come to grips with the upcoming changes in my body and my attitude. Morning boners had become a regular and disturbing thing for me. I certainly did not want to, nor would I ever show my mom what had happened to me overnight while I slept.

"Mom, please, I will get up. Just leave okay?"

I wasn't sure if it was the obvious panic on my face or my desperate grip of the covers over my crotch that clued her in, but her hard face softened. She backed up into the hallway and grinned. 

"See you downstairs. Be quick. We don't want to be late."

My panic subsided and I put both feet on the floor. Sitting up reminded me of how sick I felt. A wave of nausea hit me and I puked a small bit of bile in my mouth. This incentive to head as quickly as possible to the bathroom kicked into gear a rush response on my part. I quickly gathered my clothes for church and using them as a shield to hide the embarrassing abnormality God had cursed me with, I made a dash for the bathroom.

Fifteen minutes later I was in the back seat of the family station wagon wishing I could die. I did not dare to look out the window at the sunny world buzzing by at its usual nauseating pace. Each time I peeked out the window, my stomach flipped. So I stared at the trash on the floor behind the front seat my litterbug hating parents refused to throw out onto the highway. I was reminded that I better clean the car out soon, or no allowance this week. The swap of focus to chores that needed doing allowed me enough of a distraction that I was able to avoid blowing chunks on the way to St. Albans Episcopal Church.

Sitting through the service was torture. My head was burning up. My stomach was alternating between cramping agony and threatening to enliven the somber proceedings with a technicolor yawn. I was miserable, but I had toughed it out. Now all I had to do is make it through Communion. ..... Yeah, Communion; the most ceremonial part of the service when the priest is in all his glory as he shares the pompous wonders of God's love and then puts hands to all who genuflect before him.

I look up and see that our row is next. Telling myself I can do this, I follow my parents to the barricade around the Altar. I kneel down and wait. I am sure our row is the longest one in church that morning as it takes the priest forever to work his way to me. In the meantime I can feel another wave of nausea building in my golliwots. I bite my lip in desperation to hold it in. It is almost my turn.... I feel I can make it ....... He holds out his hand  and, and, ................. I puke all over the priest from his knees down and cover his previously shiny shoes with the typical green gruel, vomit characteristically displays.

Mom was on one side of me. Dad was on the other. They both turned their heads and looked down at me. I wiped some residual barf from my mouth and looked up at one and then the other. Dad was grinning. Mom had that horrified and indignant look on her face she usually reserved for the lowlifes she might encounter occasionally in public. I looked up at the priest. His mouth was open, his eyes had bug eye look and he had stopped that nonstop mumbling of religious tomes he mumbled every Sunday. 

I jumped up and fled stage left, out the side entrance and slunk back to the family station wagon to await a sure execution when I got home.

Some minutes later, my parents showed up at the car. Mom was silent and stiff as she got in on the driver's side. My dad however, got in on the passenger side and turned to me sitting miserable in the back seat.

"You all done with the puking?"

I nodded my head. "I think so."

And those were the only words spoken on the way home until I puked on all that trash on the floor in the back seat a block from our house. 

My mom slammed on the brakes, pulled up the emergency brake and got out of the car. "I can't stand it." She looked hard at my father. "Bob, you know how I am about vomit." To emphasize her displeasure or commiseration with me, she held a hand over her mouth and began walking in the direction of home. "I'll see you at home."

My father slid over behind the wheel, released the brake and turned to me in the back seat. 

"Looks like you have a real mess to clean up now."

___________________________

A Post Script - The barfing in church story is true and the unasked for erection story is also true. They happened at different times. I just thought it would be convenient to kill two boners with one post.

__________________________

There was only one song that made sense for this post. It is by a band that was at least regionally famous on the Atlantic Seaboard back in the 1970s. I saw him once in B-More. An acquired taste maybe. Banned from playing certain venues maybe. But there is no doubt his band was talented.

Here is "Boogie Til You Puke" by Root Boy Slim & His Sex Change Band, along with the Rootettes.


Friday, May 20, 2022

Low Hanging Fruit

When I last cut my ties to the social media world and briefly va-kayed on a cerebral tropical isle free of the World's troubles, I told myself if I decided to return to the insidious jungle creep of the social networks, I would only comment or write blog posts occasionally on things political or religious. I discovered however, that for me, the only alternatives to political and religious commentary was staring at cute kitty pics and bad dad jokes.

Okay, okay, its not that bad. But I am indeed having trouble biting my tongue when the Right Wing conspires with the Holier Than Thou Thumpers to offer up so many, so often fat, rich targets of the low hanging fruit variety. They both lead with their chins. Their shenanigans are an addictive drug, an accident I cannot turn away from.

To combat their hold on me, I vowed to write no more than one political/religious bashing post a week that centered on the stupidity of the Right. It has been tough, but I have been mostly successful I guess regarding the political post limits I put in place.

What I did not account for was, not writing about something is easier than not reading about something. It turns out that my real addiction is not offering opinion and disdain, it was sucking in the massive quantities of hate, discontent, and lies  the Right and their Proselytizing  Crusaders for God live to disseminate among the foolish masses.

There is not enough time in the day to ingest all the daily nastiness the Right and their minions foist upon the socio-political landscape, physical and electronic. They are, if nothing else, busy little beavers intent on spreading their vicious virulent version of Reality into every corner of our country. It is not enough to pick on actual events and decisions the Left has blown, the Right feels the need to just make shit up and with straight faces, include it in the overall assault on common sense that they have been waging these last forty years.

Whew!

I should feel better now that I relieved myself of some pent up anger for all things Right Wing. Sadly that was just a calming moment, a brief toot of my whistle. I will be full up again before night fall.

Keep it 'tween the ditches ............................................

__________________________

Picking the music I think has become my favorite part of posting. ....... It only took a minute to locate, copy, and paste a link to the song I knew covered this post well.

"American Idiot", by Green Day was released in 2004. It is a song that not only has stood the march of time , it is more relevant today than ever. Best listened to volume that is cranked hard. And BTW, watch your head. Don't stand too close to objects you may bang your head on.


Thursday, May 19, 2022

Dream On

About three weeks ago I picked up a cold; a nasty one as it turned out. I am still dealing with some residual effects. I figured at first it was the evil Covid. I self tested a couple of times and the test stick said, no, it was not Covid. As I had no experience with Covid, I didn't believe the sticks. But I still did not go to the doctor. I did the guy thing, the idiot thing, and put on my faux tough guy suit and waited it out.

After two weeks of misery, I slowly began to shed the worse symptoms and reassured myself that I was probably going to survive. I realized this was the first respiratory illness I have had since I quit smoking over four years ago. It was a much different experience than the colds I suffered through in my smoke em if you got em past. I felt healthier throughout the run of the cold. With the exception of that maddening period when my body wanted to cough the most when I was asleep, I came through just fine. I believe that being smoke free for four years may have prevented this cold from becoming a life threatening event, what with me now living life as an old fart.

It is my loss of sleep that segue's awkwardly into what I really want to write about.

Dreams.

While I was suffering the all night cough fests, the cycle of twenty minutes of semi comatose restlessness followed by five minutes of coughing stopped the dreaming. At least I stopped remembering any dream that might have visited while all my focus was on trying to not let the coughing send me screaming out into the dark of night.

Then last week, say Friday maybe, I finally had five hours of uninterrupted sleep. The dreams came back with a vengeance. I still did not remember them, but I knew I was dreaming. I would wake up trying my best to nail down the fantastic tale I had just spun for myself. The following nights when I was once again loving life with five hours of sleep per night, I began to remember bits and pieces of my dreams and they were disturbing.

Two mornings ago I awoke at my now usual 3:00 AM. I did not need to fish for a dream memory. The first thing I remember once I sat up was, I had just run over some guy while driving a huge SUV. I not only ran him over, but as I did it, I told myself  he deserved it. His face and why he deserved it was lost in the vague jibber jabber that is part of every dream I have. I was just sure he deserved it. And yes, I remember stepping out of the huge SUV, looking at his dead body and smiling with some satisfaction like a chapter had closed or a tale had run its course.

I was disturbed by this dream fragment. I do not remember ever having a dream where I enjoyed hurting someone. Seriously, this dream stressed me out until at least the second cup of coffee that morning.

Then 45 minutes ago when I awoke at 3:30 AM, I was again having no trouble remembering a dream fragment. ........ a disturbing dream fragment.

The setting for this dream sequence was outside among grass covered hills. The wind cycled up and down moving the grass in gentle green waves as it often does out among the tall grasses. I was in a shack located in a large grass depression with  people lining its perimeter. I was handed a big ass sword like the Templar Knights swung back in the day. Then unceremoniously I was shoved out of the shack. I could barely pick the damn sword up, it was so heavy. I looked around the grass clad arena lined with screaming fans rooting for a hero who was not me. They were not calling my name. The name they hollered was unintelligible. It only took me a second to realize I was the asshole everyone wanted dead.

I felt totally lost. But I was here and obviously here to get into a sword fight. I looked out and around this basin lined with characters from a Mad Max movie. On the other side there was another shack similar to the one I had been so rudely ejected from. I did not need to be told, but this is where my opponent must be. 

I was not wrong. The door opened and out stepped a largish fellow, maybe ten feet tall and looking like an apocryphal badass. In his hands was not a sword. He was armed with an AR15 type weapon. It looked like a toy in his massive mitts. The last thing I remembered after he shot me in the chest from fifty feet away was how unfair this was. 

So I sit in front of the computer screen typing away less than an hour after being shot in my dream. I do not remember ever being seriously harmed in a dream. Every dream it seems, I come out of it with nary a scratch. I also do not remember ever purposefully hurting anyone in my dreams; Fighting sure, but never any real damage done to anyone. 

I wonder if my increased levels of anxiety is because of the last five years of world wide turmoil that has shaken the reality I thought I lived in. Did the last decade finally rattle my perception that I had control over my destiny. And now do my dreams reflect this dark foreboding that has crept into my soul?

So, I may be wrong with my half assed analysis here, but one thing I know. Life is not fair out here in Reality. And so it seems Life is not fair in my dreams either.

Keep it 'tween the ditches ..............................

__________________________

Could not decide on music so I picked three tunes for this post.

  • "Mr Sandman" - The Chordettes. I loved this tune when I was eight. Still do.
  • "Dreams" - Cranberries - I have always liked Dolores' voice.
  • "Dream On" - Aerosmith - Never was a huge fan of these guys, but I do like this song.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Oh Happy Day

 

No more fertile ground for Hope exists 

Than in a land living in Despair.

Got up on the down side of the bed yesterday morning. The first words I thought were something akin to the above. My second thought was I probably should not watch the news this morning............. So I thought writing poetry might soothe my anxiety. 

I came up with the first two lines in a jiffy. They just fell out of my brain and onto the page. A few moments of clarity later I came up with:

All hope is never lost. 

It is only misplaced.

And then I ran into turbulence. It seemed I had written a beginning and an ending with nothing in the middle. The next five or six lines were written, scratched out, moved up, moved down, and eventually kicked out. Any clarity I had was gone, leaving only the residual ashes of its passing. Instead of shit canning my effort to that point, I created the Facebook message above and posted it. 

A half assed effort beats a blank I guessed. I made some coffee and forgot about it.

This morning my eyes popped open at 3:00 AM. I felt neither down nor up. I was just awake and could not go back to sleep. I tried, but failed. And then I remembered that last night was the first night my coughing from a recent cold had not interrupted my sleep. I had successfully slept for over five hours straight. 

Oh Happy Day.

I considered returning to my recent fragments of the poem from yesterday. While I was considering, I scrolled through my Facebook comments, hates, and likes. Someone had liked my picture message from yesterday. I punched it up so I could remind myself what I had posted. 

I did like it, even after 24 hours. But I felt it was incomplete. So I created a collage that incorporated the only lines of that poem I had saved as being worthy of any consideration of any kind. What I came up with was this:


And that is what will carry me through my day today. A message that no matter how fucked up things might seem, I can count on them changing. Nothing lasts forever, not even bad times.

Later ...........................................
______________________

Musical choice this beautiful morning was uncharacteristically harder than it should have been. I immediately considered almost any song by Donovan. The man wrote the most upbeat music of my youth. My mistake was trying to find a Donovan song that was narrowly focused enough to fit the above message collage. .............. After listening to too many Donovan tunes, I came upon "Sunshine Super Man". Hmm.......... Almost, but not quite. 

I re-played "Season of the Witch" and realized it was the tune. But instead, of the original with Donovan, I was about to pick a great cover by Mike Bloomfield, Stephen Stills and Al Kooper on their "Super Sessions" album. 

Their cover was fantastic. But I retraced my steps and also chose the original "Season of the Witch" . Instead of one choice, I am offering two versions of the same song.  Enjoy .............


Sunday, May 15, 2022

The Man in the Tree

I first met the Man in the Tree ten or so  years ago. I was standing in front of the garage adoring my 28 year old John Deere 445 lawn tractor. 

"Hey asshole."

 The deep gravelly voice made me jump. I turned around and no one was there.

"What was that?"

"Yeah, I'm talking to you standing there with your commemorative Iowa Tractor Fair John Deere hat parked on your noggin. ..... So, do you have a belt buckle to match?"

I was unnerved.  My skin crawled. I could feel my heartbeat pick up its pace.  I walked over to the side of the garage and peeked around the corner.  Nothing there.  

"Where and who the Hell are you?'

"Behind you jerk wad."

I turned around and stared.  Nothing there but shrubs, a house and .......... what a minute, did I just see the bark move on the Weeping Cherry?

"Yeah, I live in this tree.  Been here at least the last 50 laps around the Sun."

I couldn't speak.  My mouth fell open.  Why I never noticed him before was.........  I watched his bark flex and bend as he began his story.

Turns out his name was Charlie. I asked him why it was Charlie, but he ignored my question. Charlie had been living in that tree in my dooryard since he was a sapling.

"How come you never spoke up before?"

His bark crinkled just right to make it look like he was glaring at me.

"Tree People don't waste their time talking to Humans because frankly, we think you all are a bunch of assholes.....  Destructive and selfish assholes at that."

My heart had slowed down; I had collected myself. I was able to respond in a normal voice.

" I can't argue with you there Charlie. We are indeed assholes who have treated you and your kind horribly. .... I'd say we were ignorant and didn't understand the damage we were doing. But I can't. Enough of us know full well we humans are collectively a bunch of self centered thoughtless parasites who think the bounty the planet offers is limitless and who cares if it isn't anyway, we gonna get ours, screw everyone else."

The bark over Charlie's eyes settled some into a softer and kinder countenance as he realized he had found a sympathetic ear. Several minutes went by before he responded. Turns out most trees weigh everything they say carefully, giving each word enough time and consider to make the point they want to make with as few words as possible. They hate being caught with a root in their mouth. But not Charlie. Charlie just could not keep his trap shut. ...... 

"Among my peers, I am still considered a kid. The other trees still call me a brainless punk who cannot or will not keep his trap shut. And even though I knew it was never a good idea to get trapped into a conversation with a stupid Human, after 50 years, I just could not bite my tongue any longer. I am tired of being a tree suffering in silence."

"So you wait until you've got one root in the grave to speak up, huh?" 

Before he could answer, I added, "Between the rot and the Pileated Woodpeckers, it looks like you ain't long for this world, Charlie." 

The bark over his eyes shifted again as he crinkled his brow and wondered if  he had been insulted or not. A dead branch broke free and just missed my head. I realized then I had touched a nerve.

"Well, not all you humans can have conversations with trees. All of you used to be able to back in the day. Now only a select few are allowed into our conversations."

I accepted that I could talk to trees because well, one was talking to me and I had not consumed any hallucinogens for more than a few years, so I asked, "Back in the day?"

"Yeah, according to the big Maple across from our dooryard, you Humans bred out your natural connections to the planet around 100,000 years ago when notions like property, tribalism, and greed infiltrated your minds. It took awhile, but here you are finally evolved into flaming assholes who consume way more than you put back. There is not a plant on the planet that likes you.  Hell, you can't even get along with yourselves."

Charlie went completely silent at that point and did not speak to me again for several weeks. The morning after the last of his blossoms had disappeared, he caught me throwing some demo in the trailer I take to the dump. He picked up right where we left off as if no time had passed since we last spoke.

Out of thin air I hear, "And you know what the real crime here is? You humans are in the driver's seat. There is a good chance your fate is our fate. And I gotta tell you, trees are not holding out much hope for a positive outcome."

I turned and looked Charlie in the one eye that was in permanent squint. 

"Me neither Charlie. Me neither."
______________________

Again only one song came to mind when I finished writing this. Here is Joni Mitchell singing "Big Yellow Taxi" at an outdoor festival in Great Britain in 1970. 

PS - I began this post ten years ago and dropped it not even half way in. It's a done deal now. Not sure how I feel about it.

The Weeping Cherry is not what it is officially called. My dad planted it in 1967 and he called it a Weeping Cherry. My next door neighbor who is more of a plant person told me once what it really was. I immediately forgot what she said. It will always be a Weeping Cherry to me.