Memorial Day 2020

CAVEAT (A fancy Latin word for WARNING): Any topic that qualifies as a complicated conversation generally contains a lot of heated passion from every side, regardless of the topic being explored. I will of course be talking from my own point of view, so go with the assumption that it’s my opinion. When I give facts, I will also provide the appropriate links so that you know it’s NOT my opinion.
So before I wade into the fray, I remind my gentle readers that regardless of how much of a twist your knickers get into, this is still a POLITE conversation. Anything less than polite (flaming, obscenity directed at the author or the other comments, hate speech, derogatory remarks without real substance for an alternate view, or sheer stupidity) will be deleted and the user will be blocked.
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…” (Shakespeare, Henry V, Act iii, scene i)
CAVEAT, Part Two: some of the photographs in this essay are not pretty. Most of them, in fact. They are meant to disturb you and to educate you. If they offend you, just don’t look at them. And don’t bother commenting on how upset they made you, because as I just told you, they should make you upset.

Once a year, this nation honors our military; those currently serving, those who served and survived, and the many, many war dead. You should recognize this particular memorial as the raising of the flag on the small island of Iwo Jima during WWII. I will continue to add pictures of war in this essay. Some will be the sanitized, socially acceptable memorials and carefully arranged photos of our soldiers. Others will not be. Be prepared. If they bother you, well, they are supposed to–and if you are offended, be offended on your own time and not in my writing space. Stop reading if you end up *that* offended. (Refer to the header above when in doubt as to what to do.)

It is my intention, the writing of this, to honor all of our veterans, throughout most of this past century. I’m not going to talk about the (un)Civil War, or the war against the British when we fought to become a nation unto ourselves. No, I want to look at what is, in the steady stream of time passing, the “recent” past, starting at about World War II. I also will generally use male pronouns, as until fairly recently, only men went to fight. Of course we all know better. Women have been as knee-deep in battle as any man, even back in the Revolutionary and Civil wars.

Men could not have fought successfully as they did (either side of the conflict) if it weren’t for the unspoken, unacknowledged but very active support given by the females of the our species. Cooks, laundresses, nurses, doctors when needs must, providing not only the physical relief for mundane physical needs–but also providing more intangible things such as a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on (because Big Boys DO cry), and yes, even sex and not always for money. Don’t mock or denigrate those women who shared their bodies with lonely, frightened young men.

And don’t kid yourself that all those soldiers were Real Men, impervious to fear and willing, even eager, to go out and kill–or be killed. No one in their right mind actively courts death, seriously pursues activities that will almost assuredly lead to their own personal end of life. The concept of dying for their country is a vague and nebulous thing, something that might happen, but never really to them. And that idea lasts until their first fire fight, the first bomb that lands near their platoon and they watch their comrades die right before their eyes. And then, THEN, they are slapped in the face with the cold, hard fact that Death doesn’t care who it takes. When your time is up, Death has no problem collecting souls.

Don’t fall for the myth of the war movies, where the hero always survives, where the big name star is still standing at the end, waving the flag and serving as propaganda to con other young men into signing up for battle. War is NOT glorious. War is bloody, messy, degrading, demoralizing, and there is no way to push a button and try to play out the battle again to a successful end this time. It’s not a game. There are no series of bosses, easy to hard levels, a chance to build up extra hit points before facing the Final Boss. Every encounter with the enemy can be anyone’s last battle–even if it’s their first one at the same time. War is de-humanizing; it’s literally a case of “kill or be killed” and there’s no chance to determine if there is any other way to solve this puzzle.

There is only one rule in war, in any war–survive at all costs. And it will cost. A lot. Far too many soldiers have lost their humanity in the fight to stay alive, and so we have become witnesses to atrocities that are unbelievable to those who were not there at that time. Photos were taken–and not always by news reporters but by those who had committed these acts and were getting souvenirs of it. And those things that occurred but have no photographic evidence…the whispered conversations, the “I heard (such and such)” comes out to shock and dismay the civilians who have no personal knowledge. And some of those horrors are dismissed as being too much, too dreadful to be believed. Until somehow they are proven and we are aghast at the loss of humanity inherent to the actions.

Disturbing photo here:
I do not know if these soldiers are American or not. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that some men hold the power and are abusing it over the naked man who is about to be smashed with a boot. This is what war is about, this is one look at what war does to otherwise “nice” men.

The litany of wars is long, to the point where it seems as if there’s always a war going on, somewhere in the world. And there is, oh how there is. I mean, really! When you have a conflict go on long enough that it’s actually called “The Hundred Years’ War”? But I am trying to limit myself to the 20th century, from World War II to modern day. And that in itself is a long list. The USA didn’t even enter the world’s war until the date of “infamy”, December 7, 1941, with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

USS Arizona Memorial, Honolulu, Hawaii

It was August in 1945 when the USA ended the war by using atomic weapons for the first time in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That included another famous ship, the USS Indianapolis–but no one knew that until after the war because it was sent by secret mission to take The Bomb to the airfield that would be used to actually deliver the bomb from a B-52. The Indianapolis made its delivery at Tinian, but was sunk by Japanese submarines on its way to the Philippines. It went down with 300 dying on board and then the remaining 900 sailors went in the water–and no one knew where they were because most of the military had no idea of their mission. Those men were in the water for 3 days before rescue eventually came to them–and there was only 317 of the crew of 1,196 aboard still alive. The men in the water had to fight off sharks for those 3 days. Two-thirds of them died by exposure and/or those sharks.

                            USS Indianapolis Memorial

I have had the incredible experience of meeting a survivor from each of those two famous ships–not both at the same time, of course, but over the years I have traveled and seen the world. In fact, I was actually living in Saigon, Vietnam, for the Tet Offensive of 1968. I can remember going up onto the roof of our apartment and seeing the “fireworks” (all red, because they were actually tracer rounds). My father was working for Air America at the time, having gotten out of the Army as a pilot for cargo planes. He was flying for AA at that time and he always carried a pistol. We lived in a dead-end alley, along with several other American families. The men took turns, keeping guard from the rooftop at the open end of the alley–and one man actually did kill two Viet Cong who were coming into the area. I didn’t know that then; after all, I was just 6 years old. I didn’t understand about the war.

My father is now a fully disabled “Agent Orange” veteran. My mother told me that they would used tanker trucks to spray the Agent Orange (exfoliant) and then “wash” the trucks out in the river. They would fill up the tank with water and the men would use that to shower themselves. In Agent Orange residue. This is also what war is like, when your military uses things, not even really considered weapons, to facilitate their battle efforts–and end up hurting their own soldiers.

It’s generally accepted today that the Vietnam war was a huge failure. So many young men (and women) killed, so much money spent on the equipment used, that often failed in the wet heat of the jungle, trying to fight an enemy that could disappear like mist into that same jungle. That was the last war that used conscripted (“called up”) soldiers, with the draft taking the young men indiscriminately, killing potential doctors, teachers, firemen, fathers, scholars; men who might have changed the world but never lived to show any sort of meaningful contributing factor to our world. This is just as true for the women who also died in that conflict. Keep in mind that they were not drafted. They volunteered to go, knowing that they might not return. Does that make their deaths somehow more significant? I don’t know. I consider all the deaths, male or female, drafted or not–all of them as an enormous waste of potential that will never be realized.

Vietnam Memorial Wall, Washington DC

The Vietnam war was the first one that was essentially fought in “real time”. We now had had the technology to show the war on the home television sets. We had reporters in uniform, with helmets, standing alongside of the soldiers, telling the civilians just what was going on. We SAW, for the first time, war live and happening NOW. Not a bland newspaper article, carefully written to only present the best view. No, we saw the Real Thing, up close and personal. Many of our citizens vilified the soldiers, spitting on them as they returned, wounded in body and soul. Many who would have died in earlier wars from the terrible wounds now lived, sort of. Missing limbs, missing eyes, head shots that somehow healed physically but the mind…was never the same. We had to learn the terms of “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” and “flashbacks”. Society suddenly had a group of very, very angry men; men who knew that the entire thing had been a lie, had been hopeless and the upper ranks who had known that but had thrown their enlisted bodies at the enemy as if they were nothing more than a human bomb.

An addition to the Vietnam Memorial, called “Walking Into the Wall”

This was a war where the lieutenants learned not to turn their backs on their own men because they might be killed by “friendly fire”. Keep in mind–lieutenants are the lowest of the officers. They were fresh out of college, with the ink on their commission (that piece of paper making them an officer) still wet, with no more battle experience than a child. And they were put in charge of men who had been fighting together long enough to have steel bonds holding them in place–and frequently, the lieutenant would give orders without any knowledge behind them, never understanding just what it was he was directing them to do–but they knew. They understand that if they followed those orders, they would almost assuredly die, to a man. It took a smart lieutenant to let his most senior sergeant make the orders because that was what would keep all of them alive the longest.

This was the war that we never won, would never win. We just gave up and what was left of our military slunk back home to derision and ridicule. No hero’s welcome for them. And no treatment for the host of mental disorders that accompanied them back to their native land. It has taken YEARS for the government to finally address that and begin the process of helping them adjust and re-acclimatize to being in a non-war environment. Thank all the gods for the dog, who has stepped up and into his working vest, to help these men remember what being human should feel like, to help the man at his side live a meaningful life again, without needing a gun to feel safe.

The Vietnam war also taught another lesson that is more sinister and causes more problems now than it could ever hope to solve: the birth of the Military Industrial Complex. Sadly, our economy is based on waging war. We have several corporations who end product is not a tangible product, but the ephemeral one of a continual ongoing war. It doesn’t really matter against who, or the apparent reason (always a great sounding one) for fighting, just as long as there is a war going on somewhere, using up planes and jeeps and … soldiers. Women are now included in that group. I suggest because we are running out of males who are willing to sign up for a quick trip overseas and the eternal chance of dying wherever the war is being run.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Old men send young men into battle without blinking their eyes at the number that goes. Without a thought for the home front, for the family left behind each of those soldiers, for the mothers and fathers, the daughters and sons, the lovers, the husbands’ wives they will never have, the children who will not be born, the lives that will not be lived. All sacrificed to the Military Industrial Complex, the “too big to fail” corporations that makes their millions and billions through the deaths of others, never their own CEOs or shareholders.

We talk about the Middle East as if it were one place. It’s not, it never has been. It has been a warzone since before the USA was even born. It has ALWAYS had strife and battle for water, for land, for oil. Each tribe considers every other tribe to be the interloper on *their* patch of sand, ever since the first time two different men spotted each other in the distance, back when horses were barely known and camels were the way to get around. A nomadic life was the only one that was sustainable–so oases and waterholes became the goldmines of life, worth killing for, worth dying for. Over the millennia, these tribes have only become more insular, more wary of “the stranger”. “If you eat at my table, I cannot kill you.” the saying goes. Actually, it ends like this: “I cannot kill you for three days.” That means you have exactly 3 days to get beyond my reach.

Life in a desert is harsh beyond our plush American way so understanding it, truly comprehending it in our heart and bones, is impossible. Even the worst American household is like Paradise compared to the harshness and unforgiving nature of the desert. So when you’re talking about a desert dweller, they are, by necessity and by Nature, also going to be harsh and unforgiving. They must, or they will not survive. And over the years, this means that only the harshest survive to breed. They teach their children to be harsh as well, because of course they want their children to live. As Americans, we simply cannot understand that in a truly visceral way–and “knowing” it in a purely theoretical and hypothetical way is insufficient to be able to meet them on common ground. No wonder we label them as ignorant savages. They aren’t; remember out of these tribes we have received Arabic numerals, the very ones we use to write our accounting books. We have geometry, astronomy and other learning that came from these dwellers in the sand.

As in many other groups, religion  entered their way of life and just like Christianity, ended up leading to more wars than any peaceful acceptance of their fellow humans. (Fellow and gals? Whatever the word is, I mean all others, not just males.) Muslims, again just like Christians, argue amongst themselves as to their common book and what each part means, splitting into sects that have to argue (and make war) against those who don’t believe in their interpretation.

Americans can’t even get their own nation to agree on one religion–which is not necessarily a bad thing. We are a wildly diverse nation to begin with; how could we all agree on just one of any subject, including and almost especially, religion? And we think we can use to force to make other nations agree and stop fighting? That’s a major show of irony right there: waging war to … stop war?

In other writings I have done, I have made the point that the human mind can really only hold about 150 people in itself. Our brains cannot truly comprehend thousands of people, let alone millions. Our tribe, our group of no more than about 150 discrete individuals, that’s it. I firmly believe that’s why we are so insular, so damned…tribal. Because we can identify it, name it, and name the parts of it. That is why the concept of one child dying in a car crash makes us more emotional, we feel it more, than the concept of thousands dying in a tsunami or earthquake–even if they take place within the boundaries of our own country.

Even a small number of people involved in a bad thing can be glossed over, not really sympathized about, if it happens “somewhere else, over *there*”. It’s not real to us. But it should be, when it involves our people in uniform. They are first and foremost, people. Men and women who have the same type of dreams and hopes as the rest of us–to have a good life, to live to be an old person, to perhaps have children, a career that doesn’t involve a gun (or having to kill someone else every day), a chance to live their life without war. Many of them, far too many of them, never get that. Take a look at the units that are being put together to go “over there” to fight people they’ve never even seen. Yet. They’ve been taught to hate those people, to fear them and to kill them without mercy–because those people will sure as hell try to kill them.

A war photographer meets some soldiers, Vietnam War

Look at them, there in the photograph. All of them young, fit and ready for action. How many of them died that day? The next day? The next week? All right, how many of them lived to make it back to their homes?

General William Tecumseh Sherman, a Northern soldier during the Civil War, said words that are famous: “War is Hell”. He was the general who ordered the evacuation and subsequent burning of the city of Atlanta. He knew, intimately and deeply, the truth of that simple, three word sentence. War IS Hell. Ask any veteran who has “seen action”. It’s a euphemism, an oh-so-polite way of saying, “everybody was shooting at everybody else and I managed to survive”.

With a drafted army, you get a complete cross section of every type of human being. Not everyone is cut out to be a soldier, not everyone has what it takes to look through the scope of a rifle, see the face of the person you’re trying to kill–and pull that trigger. I would suggest that there is a problem with an all volunteer army because you are attracting the people who want to be soldiers, who want to go and kill other human beings for the glory of war and for their “patriotic duty”–which in modern times is not what makes a nation great.

Korean War Memorial, Washington DC

Our killing machines are scientifically designed to be efficient and rapid. There is no time to think over what you’re actually doing. No waiting for the fuse to hit the powder, as there was in the Revolutionary and Civil wars. No having only one shot in the gun; now we have multi-shot cartridges that can be changed out faster than those single shot rifles could be reloaded. We have also employed other types of attacks: gas, anti-personnel bombs, long distance, directed bombs, airplanes than can actually carpet the ground with hundreds of bombs at once. And of course, there’s always the one Big Deterrent, the atomic bomb. Or perhaps just a smaller, baby version to remind people that “We Will Use It If You Make Us”.

That Military Industrial Complex (MIC) keeps coming up with newer, faster, deadlier tanks and airplanes. They make bigger vehicles to take more men and equipment faster up to the front lines. The MIC is as bad as any dress designer, having to come up with new designs every season, in order to at least match last year’s earnings and to hopefully exceed them. Their stockholders demand a large return on their money! And we’re back to the money that drives the war economy, which is our nation’s economy now. If we stop all our wars, if we bring back to our own native land (so to speak, whose land it really is belongs in another essay)–if we bring back all the young men and women we sent out, our war-driven economy would crash and die.

I think we should let it. I think it’s time to create a productive economy, driven by innovation and invention of things that have nothing to do with war, but everything to do with living a better life. And I do mean better in pretty much every sense of that word. Better for the people living it, better for the planet we’re living on, better for world relations, better for our own states’ relations with each other–a truly UNITED country for once.

War is Hell. And we need to stop sacrificing the brightest, shiniest young people to it. We need to find other ways to settle conflict, ways that truly end the killing and stay fixed on mutual respect and satisfactory conditions for all to live by. I don’t care what the question is–the answer should never first nor foremost, should never ever even be, “War”. War has never permanently solved any problem. The use of force has no “sticking” power–the “other” side just looks for a bigger gun, a faster rocket, another group of young people to sacrifice to the cause.

“Taps” being played at Arlington National Cemetery

We’ve had TWO worldwide wars. We’ve had police actions that were just unnamed wars. We’ve had “neutralizing” presence in places that were just none of our business, all to protect a fossil fuel that is rapidly being depleted. Some day, when it’s all gone, maybe that generation will look back through time at us and laugh at our pathetic attempts to maintain control of that smelly, messy liquid.

Veterans know better. They have seen things that no human being should be asked to witness. They have done things that they are ashamed of, things that they are proud of, the things they were asked or ordered to do because they are American soldiers. And many, many of them died in a foreign country, giving the ultimate gift of their very life to war. What a waste, what a heroic act–and never done for any ideal, but to protect their brothers in arms, to make sure each man gets out of this hell they have been sent to. War is Hell. Never forget that. Never forget the sacrifices made. Honor the dead, keep their memory alive, as they were once alive. Respect their death, coming long before their number of years had been used up. Because war is Hell and not everyone can serve–and not everyone will serve. Maybe someday, we’ll be able to say that “no one must, no one needs to serve”.

A deeply sincere and humble “Thank you” to those who live with the memory of the Hellish war. A silent but sincere intention of thanks to those who died in Hell. It is Memorial Day, a day to remember, to never forget, to live with the hope that we can make it end before too many more of our young people are squandered on a battlefield.

(From World War One, “In Flanders Fields”)


Mother Nature is Balancing Her Books

     I firmly believe that Mother Nature (or as I like to call Her, “Nature”) will ALWAYS strive to keep a balance on our planet. I do mean the entire planet: every plant, rock, living creature, weather systems, mountains, beaches–and oh yes, human beings. Every single thing that is a part of the world, whether we acknowledge our part in it or not. This may come as a shock to some of you, but Nature is not giving any priority to humans. We are no more important to Nature than any other piece or part of the world. And in fact, given our behavior, we may actually count less than most other living beings.
     Climate change, severe weather, volcanoes, earthquakes, mudslides, hurricanes and typhoons–all of these are ways to change ecosystems and keep the overall balance.* Extinction of various species also figures into this keeping balance–after all, Nature’s first and most important rule is “Adapt or die.”. Humans ignore this, because in our greater “intelligence” (ignorance of the basics of life is more like it), we seek to subdue Nature, to overrun Her, to “put Her in Her place”–which is usually never within our daily lives.
(*Note: climate change has always existed; ask the dinosaurs. Human beings have only accelerated it, modified its cycles, messed around with the timing by our intrusion into things like burning fossil fuels and industrialization.)
     I’ll take a moment here to point out that Toxic Masculinity extends to the very Mother that gave us life and sustains us as an entire species. We treat Mother Nature about as well as any other woman is treated in today’s society, which is to say as a second-class citizen, only important for what she can do for men (be an incubator) and not worthy of equal rights and opportunities.
     Pandemics are just one more tool in Mother Nature’s toolbox. It is one of the ultimate tests of “Adapt or die” and has been, since the beginning of time. Our lives are actually a constant war to develop immunity to each new disease as it comes along. And the diseases are also developing, mutating to attack in new and different ways to succeed in their quest for life. These epidemics/pandemics also occur among animals and plants, since Nature doesn’t single out any particular life-form for culling back the numbers.
     Let’s face it, human beings have well exceeded the ability of the Earth to care for us. Our population numbers are comparable only to viruses for sheer amount. Our ravaging of the very places we live is a behavior not seen among the “lesser” animals because they never get the chance to overgraze every pasture or kill off every single prey animal. The balance is maintained by supply and demand, based on Nature’s generosity. When there is a glut of baby rabbits, the wolves then have more pups to take care of them. When the rabbits are gone, so are the wolves. Elephants are nomadic, because the amount they eat in a day would rapidly denude an area if they didn’t move around the distances that they do. Predators follow the herds or schools of various prey animals, never eating all of one kind, leaving only the strongest and most determined prey creatures to reproduce. It’s an eternal contest, to see if the predators can be smart enough to catch food and if the food can be smart enough to avoid being eaten.
     Cheetahs are actually beginning to go extinct on their own, with no blame to be laid at man’s feet (this time). They are not changing enough, evolving fast enough, to keep up with their prey that is adapting and getting faster. And it’s not just speed; the prey use calls to warn each other when a predator is sighted. Some herds have look-outs as birds who eat the bugs on them find it advantageous to alert the herd to predators rather than missing out on their own dinner.
     So…returning to Homo Sapiens as a collective species on this planet. Keep in mind that when we refer to human beings, we do INDEED mean every single human being. No excluding anyone. No bias against gender, color, race, national origin, religion, political standing, level of education or how much money they have–or don’t have. We are talking about every wee babe, from moments old, to the most aged centenarian. We are talking about the peoples of every nation, on every continent. And this is such a massive number that mere humans cannot actually conceive of that number.
     We can only really contemplate about 150 distinct people in our heads, which is why a car crash that kills 6 teenagers is more horrifying to us on a visceral level than the deaths of ten thousand in a tsunami. While they’re both sad to us, one hits us on the gut level (the teenagers) and the other is a mental exercise in “well that was a LOT of people”. Part of that gut response is the cliched comment that “it could have been me” or “it could have been someone I know”. The tsunami? Is just some vague concept of a lot of people and we can’t personalize it down to being “me or mine”.
     This difference in how we perceive tragedies also extends to our prejudices against other groups of people “who aren’t our tribe” and is the basis for every bit of hatred and disenfranchisement that exists. If you’re not gay and don’t (think you) know anyone who is gay, you have no interest in giving basic human rights to “that kind of person”. Substitute any other word that is used to divide: black, Muslim, immigrant, “person of color” (if you are white) and so on. If they aren’t “like” you or the people you know (that tribe of 150 in your head), then you honestly don’t perceive them as being equal human beings. Maybe not even human beings at all.
     By technology, industry and brute force, we humans have been forcing our agenda onto the Earth. We ignore ecosystems and the interconnection between all of them in our attempt to gain more of everything and anything that we want. Land and water are eternal sources of food and comfort for us; we never stop to count the damage we are doing–or the depletion we are causing. Our industries strip the land of its native/natural protections. We dig enormous hole without any thought as to what happens to the exposed substrata. We push water between rock layers, deep in the ground, to extract those precious fossil fuels–and leave poison and gaps, causing earthquakes in areas that had never felt even a mild tremor before and seeping oil into drinking water supplies.
     We pave Paradise and put up our parking lots, our apartment complexes, our vast and wasteful cities–all without any concern, not even one thought, about all the life that is now gone from that place. Killed or displaced without even an acknowledgement that we’re doing it. We build steel and concrete jungles where real jungles used to be–and then wonder why the temperature goes up and the weather changes.
     We move across this planet as if we are somehow not an intimate part of the intricacy of this incredible and very much alive global system. We act as if nothing we do has any cost or effect on the natural world because we fail to identify ourselves as an inherent part of that very same, very natural world.
     And I believe the bill for our lackadaisical destruction is coming due for our time. It’s come due before; the Black Plague, the Spanish Influenza, Pompeii, Atlantis, Krakatoa, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, any tsunami that killed more than 100 people and all the other world-affecting disasters. I’m not counting the things we’ve done to ourselves, like any of the major fires in metropolitan areas or Legionnaire’s disease or terrorism.
     This world, our human world, is faced with a pandemic of a new virus that no one has seen before. It is related to both the common cold and influenza. Yes, people can–and are–dying from it but like its cousin, “the ‘flu”, it will be deadly to those people who are already in a compromised health situation, like the old, the very young or those having diseases that are complicated by other illnesses.
     Panic has apparently become the “go-to” response, like no one’s ever seen any illness before. Washing our hands should should have already been a part of our normal routine, because there’s ALWAYS some sort of virus or bacteria that’s trying to get us. (That’s their job; what doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger.) And using antibacterials (like Purell) to kill off everything is just setting us up for super germs that we won’t be able to fight because we haven’t practiced on the weaker germs first. Soap and water works just fine. In fact, water by itself can do it–if you wash LONG enough.
     No kissing? No shaking hands? No hugs? NO CONTACT?? The obvious result of eliminating all contact with each other is that the first germ to come along would be able to kill us because we’d never build up any immunity at all.
     While most of the world seems focused on the whole germs and sickness aspect of this, there’s a lot more consequences to this pandemic than just dying. First and foremost, what if you don’t have paid time off? How do you “self isolate” if you MUST go to work? What if you are forced to stay home anyway, because your place of employment has closed? What money will you have in a week, two weeks or a month to pay all of life’s little costs. You know, rent, food, heat, Internet connection. What if your place of employment stays open, but your childcare center closes? Just carry that line of thought out to its logical conclusion.
     Let’s say that you do have some savings. Are they enough to tide you over some undetermined time of isolation? What if your “savings” are actually in stocks? You are aware that the market is crashing, spectacularly.
     In fact, here is an article which explains what’s going to happen: Coronavirus will bankrupt more people than it kills–and that’s the real global emergency.
     And all the gain that had come since Trump’s win? Is gone, gone, gone.
     The newspapers are generating updates:
     The Republican Senate is up to its usual shenanigans: Senate GOP blocks emergency paid sick leave from moving forward
     (Fuck the rest of the world, am I right?)
     And while Trump was willing to go right ahead and reduce food stamps, one judge was having none of that: Judge Blocks Rule That Would Have Kicked 700,000 People Off SNAP
     Frankly, those headlines make me more worried about the state of our government than the state of my health in response to this whole coronavirus issue.
     I think that the panic is a completely fabricated sideshow, to keep us from paying attention to what is really going on in Washington D.C. Oh, the disease is real, the calamity of it is certainly real–and it is global in effect. We are not the only nation being faced with the realities of a communicable disease loose in the population, particularly a disease that can kill us. But stockpiling toilet paper and Purell is not the answer. Hunkering down in our homes is not the answer either. Like the common cold, you’re not going to know until you have it that you got it.
     I refuse to live in fear. I acknowledge my compromised immune system. I’ll either get the COVID-19. Or I won’t. I’ll be sick. Or I’ll die. Or I won’t. Life is all about balance and so I will find the new balance to adjust for this pandemic. I’ll make a point of washing my hands more often. I won’t kiss strangers and I won’t do any deep kissing even with good friends. I’m not going to stop hugging people–but I won’t hug people who don’t want to be hugged. I’ve never done that anyways. I always ask first: “May I hug you?” and then go from there.
     If I begin to have symptoms of a flu-like nature, I’ll stay home (“Exiled for the good of the realm”, that’s me!) and only infect my husband, who probably gave it to me in the first place. There’s no telling. If I get very sick, I will seek out medical help, either at my VA clinic, which is the first place to go–or to the ER. I hope to be able to get tested, but if there are no tests available, then I come home and be as comfortable as I can while fighting the symptoms. Maybe I’ll get better, maybe I won’t. I can’t control that outcome, so I accept whatever happens.
     And if I leave this mortal coil, know this: I lived my life in balance as best as I could, for as long as I could. I lived a full and joyous life, I have loved and was loved, and I have never, ever lived in fear. And I do not fear Death, whenever it shows up.
     I hope that keeps me in good standing with Mother Nature and helps maintain the balance for all of this world I call Home.
Namaste and Peace!


It’s So Easy To Hate Trump

Originally posted on Facebook, February 7, 2020.


It is so easy to hate Trump, those of us who did not elect him, do not want him to be reelected, fear everything he’s done and still doing to our nation. It’s easy to despise his behavior, his words, his appearance. It’s easy to fear the changes he has wrought in our population, our government, our world. It is easy. Because he is full of hate; he is obviously despising of so much and so many; he is full of fear–of the stranger, of women, of being perceived as anything other than as President for Life Trump.
As a Tibetan Zen Buddhist, with the Dalai Lama as my heart’s teacher, I struggle with these feelings that Trump brings out in me. I understand that my discomfort, fear and anger have zero effect on him or his actions. I also have to resolve the conflict between these feelings and the desire to hate him against the concepts of lovingkindness towards all. Oh, and the very strong belief I have that hate and love are two sides of the same coin–and can actually be easily changed from on to the other. For me, and perhaps like-minded others, the true opposite of love? Is indifference. NOT hate. Hate is an energy-filled, energy-draining emotion, exactly the same as love. Indifference is when you don’t love them, you just want them to go away and leave you alone.
I will share how I reached this epiphany. When I was married the first time, I thought it was for “forever”. Turns out, not so much. The split was not ummm pleasant nor particularly polite. I suppose the end of a marriage never is. But for both of us, our divorce was the best thing that could have ever happened–because we have both ended up with people who fulfill our desires and hopes for a lifelong partnership and a love for the other that is so obvious, we glow–all four of us. But even during the dark times and the subsequent final courtroom scene, I never hated him. Never, not once. Still don’t. I discovered that I just wanted him to go away.
(And I’m sure, now that I’m a little older and hopefully a little wiser, that he felt that way, too. And the simple fact is, if I hated him, I would, by association, have to hate our children for being part of him. Our children are wonderful; I am proud of both of them and the successes they have within their own, grown-up lives. And there’s no scientific way to prove who contributed what to their being who they are and the things they have accomplished. Their father and I share the responsibility–and the pride–for both of them, equally and without any blot of the problems the two of us had.)
So the opposite of love is indifference. “I just don’t care”. It requires no emotional energy, no need to shout or scream or cry against the object/person thus made indifferent. Again, as a Buddhist, the concept of lovingkindess towards ALL is probably the nearest thing to the a “commandment” I follow. The Old Testament’s Ten Commandments are actually longer, more roundabout ways of saying, “show loving_kindness (lovingkindness) to all”. When you practice this, you don’t lie about them, you don’t hurt them, you don’t murder them, you don’t covet their spouses, houses, or jobs. And so on.
So what to do about the failed businessman in the White House? Believe me, I have been thinking about this for over 3 years now. In fact, I actually ponder this on a semi-regular basis–if only because one egregious act follows another and there seems to be no limit to, nor level of egregiousness of, he won’t try. Frankly, nothing he does actually surprises me. I expect the worst, the most outrageous things–and he doesn’t disappoint. But nothing, and I mean NOTHING, that he can do, will actually make me HATE him.
The minute I hate him, I have lost my way on the path to enlightenment. I have sold my soul and sold it far too cheaply for the likes of him. The minute I hate him, I have become exactly the same as his misguided and mistaken followers, blinded by his hatred and taking it into themselves. It’s just as much a symbolic joining as Jesus and the Last Supper. “Eat of my flesh and drink of my blood” and “you shall be in Paradise with me”–except that it’s “listen to my words and drink of my hate” and “you shall be in Trumpland with me”.
NEVER. I will not do that. It’s so easy to hate Trump. It requires a lot of effort not to be lost, down that slippery slope. Where does the hate end? Do we extend it to his toadies, the ass-kissers and sycophants he keeps around himself? Do we give that hate to anyone who chooses to follow him, no matter what? Do we end up hating the people in our own families who think he is “The Second Coming” and see in him (for whatever reason) the chance for their own lives to be everything they think it should be? How much energy do we expend on something, someone, who is SO NOT WORTH IT?
Okay, let’s not talk about energy consumption. (Snark: since there is no more energy conservation in this country.) Let’s talk about what we can do to NOT hate him, how we can adjust our thoughts to accommodate this heinous bag of wind that currently holds the power of the highest level in our nation. We can’t change him. We CAN, and should, change our own thoughts and feelings about him so that we don’t fall into the trap of being JUST LIKE HIM. In other words, stop hating him because he is NOT worth it.
Let’s step away from the esoteric and spiritual for a moment and just deal with the actual physical sciences, specifically, psychiatry/psychology. I have had a lifelong interest in both and have actually taken “Introduction to Psychology” twice–20 years apart. Ho boy, the changes in the class! The first time I took it, we talked about the names of mental illnesses and how to identify them in a person. The last time I took it, it was about the brain’s physical structure and how the chemicals in our brains are what create our thoughts and feelings. For example: if you have a rush of feeling, especially a negative feeling like fear or anger, if you can stop yourself from responding for 90 seconds, the feeling will pass as the chemicals that cause it fade. If you focus on it, that causes the same chemicals to re-apply for as long as you focus–which actually, physically, wears a groove to that point which triggers the feeling.
So mental illness actually is “all in your head”–not as a vague feeling, but an actual, physically evident, groove in the brain matter itself. That’s why it takes 3 weeks to establish a habit–and just as long (or longer) to stop one. It’s just as much a physical process as building muscle or losing fat. Psychologists are beginning to understand that everything in our lives physically affects our brain–from earliest childhood through death. Sometimes the start of a mental illness cannot be pinpointed because the events that created it are unknowable, such as tracing back to childhood experiences from the person who is affected. Most of us don’t remember what exactly was going on when we were 2, 3 or 4 years old–but the external input of those years left its imprint in the grooves in our brains just as surely as any single (perhaps) traumatic event in the recent past.
Getting back to Trump: it is apparent to anyone vaguely familiar with mental illness that he is definitely mentally ill. Even with my lack of a psychology degree, there are obvious signs of several, specific diseases. I don’t expect anyone to argue with me when I say that he is obviously Narcissistic. (see: He is also a megalomaniac (see: which is a common side dish for Narcissism. But rather than completely overload you with scientific explanations, let’s make it easier for the average person on the street.
We have to consider not just who Trump is now; we have to take a look at his parents and siblings first. This will help us understand how he was brought up and how the home environment helped mold his mind. His father, Fred, was a Nazi sympathizer–the family actually is German, remember. It’s apparent that his father also had the same feelings of superiority over others and it seems obvious that he would tell his children that they were “above” others–smarter, better, richer. Money is a central theme in life for Trump, right from the start. His mother is hardly ever mentioned, except for her immigration status. His father’s ideologies and money ensured that the young Trump was consistently reminded that he was “royalty” (of a sort), that he was special, not like “the others”–and I’m also willing to bet that the punishments handed out to keep him on this red carpet were of a sufficient level of pain (mental or emotional, not necessarily physical) to strongly reinforce that concept.
He never worried about a job, never had the soul-destroying effort of interviews or being fired. His father handed him money to do whatever he wanted, besides bringing him into the real estate business he was running. (Slum lords and their progeny.) His father taught him to cut corners, to cheat, to lie, to steal–all from an early age and not necessarily as direct lessons, but just by talking about how he (Fred) had once again “pulled it off” and gotten away with something for which a poorer man would have been jailed.
Because of his father’s money, Trump moved among the rich and famous, the “beautiful people” from an early age, even up to today. That money made it possible for him to get away with quite literally anything. Grabbing pussy or making up grandiose businesses that all failed, ended being covered over with enough money that he could repeat it, ad nauseum. Quite literally, everything went his way and even in the “bad times”, he was never the one to pay the price. Even with 7 bankruptcies. That would only increase his egomania and his sure knowledge of superiority to others.
I believe that he has never had a real and emotional attachment to any other person. Not his parents, not his wives, not his children. There is, quite literally, no one as good, as special, as marvelous, as him–in his own mind. I also believe that anything which would have made him truly human is gone. He is no longer human, no longer a part of the larger collective of beings on this planet. If he had any connection to another person as a baby or child–even maybe as a teenager–that was destroyed by his own hubris. He has become a slave to the one thing that he does love: money and the associated power that money brings.
Believing these things, I actually feel sorry for him. As humans, our greatest strengths come from our connection to each other, our attachments to the past through our ancestors and our hopes for the future through our children. We can acknowledge our own mortality when we know that others will live on, generation unto generation. We interact with the world based on that knowledge. Trump doesn’t have a clue about that. Death, the concept of his own, very personal, death must absolutely terrify him. I’ll bet that he tries very hard not to think about it at all–and whimpers when the idea slides into his thoughts, late at night, as he’s all alone in his grandeur.
I make a point of trying to see him as he really is, rather than as the larger-than-life concept of “Donald Trump” he wants the world to believe. He’s an old man, it shows in more than the wig and the wrinkles. He’s overweight and in poor health. I don’t care how “perfect” the doctor says he is, just look at him. I don’t think he’s smart–and nowhere near a “stable genius”. I would describe him as cunning, not intelligent. Like a rat in New York City, able to survive because he takes advantage of everything he possibly can. Everything he touches turns to dust, not gold. Seven bankruptcies means 7 different businesses that failed. Casinos that stand empty, a sad and pathetic monument to the golden river of money they were supposed to produce. Two failed marriages. A string of sexual adventures that were not apparently that great (ask the ladies). A successful TV show–but based on who got FIRED, not on who succeeded. Negative vibes from everything…how can anyone have anything other than a negative result in the end?
Trump is what Macbeth describes as “sound and fury, signifying nothing…”. In an earlier century, he’d have made a great circus barker or ringmaster. “Step right this way, see the 7th wonder of the world. Be dazzled, be astonished at the Amazing Reynaldo and his lovely assistant, Victoria.” He’s all showman but not much of a show. He isn’t worth the energy of hate because he’s pathetic. His whole life, his whole Presidency, is nothing more than a series of him trying to be a lot more than he could ever hope to be, trying to live up to his own hype. And failing it miserably. And because somewhere, deep down inside of him where I’ll bet even he can’t find it, is the last spark of his humanity, crying out for acknowledgment and connection to the rest of us. He is a solitary soul, lost within the mirrored halls of his own ego. There is no one to rescue him and he cannot save himself.
So I cannot hate Trump. But I can, and do, feel very sorry for him as a human being, an eternal soul that is trapped within the confines of his nature and thoughts. I pity him, in his golden prison. I suspect that there is rage within him that is a direct result of his loss of humanity and true interaction with others. I don’t think he understands it, can’t figure out how to quench it and so uses its energy to be hurtful and spiteful–and hateful (hate-full).
Yes, Trump terrifies me, makes me angry, makes me concerned not just about me and my family, but about our country–and even about the entire world because he has the influence that comes from being the President of the USA. He has done, and continues to do, great damage at every level. It shouldn’t surprise us; doing damage is all that he has ever done. Is it repairable? Of course it is. On the cosmic scale, this is just a blip–yes, it is. There have been other Narcissistic megalomaniacs in the world and they caused as much upheaval to their time as he is to ours. But Nature is about balance and the pendulum swings both ways. And as another saying tells us, we know a thing by its opposite. We’ve had it pretty damned good in the 240+ years our nation has existed; it must have been time to remind us that it’s not permanent. Nothing in this world is, no matter how much we try to make it true,
Don’t hate Trump. Pity him and move on. Do what good you can to help tip those cosmic scales to a place of balance. Good and Evil will always struggle to gain dominance. Both sides have their followers. Don’t waste your thoughts and emotional energies on something that cannot be changed by thought or emotions. Take that energy and DO things. Whatever you can, wherever you are. Go to rallies, protest his actions. Remember that he is aided and abetted by the GOP and get out to VOTE. Do NOT vote 3rd party–it will only split the votes from the Democratic candidate and then Trump will have 4 more years. This is not the year to prove how “green” or “middle of the road” you are–people standing in the middle of the road get run over first.
Don’t hate Trump. Don’t give him that kind of power over your mind and heart. He is just not worth it. If the only thing you can do is show love to all you meet, then by the gods and goddesses, show that love, unfailingly, unflinchingly, to everyone. Send out the vibes of lovingkindness to the world because our poor sad world needs all the loving and the kindness it can get. Even if it is so easy to hate Trump.

New Year’s Observations

It’s 2015 and the last year is now just in the history books. It’s the time of year that people make their resolutions and start dieting, running, giving up smoking/drinking/wearing a purple monkey suit to work. Well, I don’t make resolutions, but I think I’d like to make some observations.

We moved from Northern Virginia to Eureka CA one year and two months ago. More than enough time to get settled in, find our land legs (so to speak) and get an idea of what we had gotten ourselves into with that cross-county change of address. There’s only so much you can learn from Internet research and there’s a lot of things that never make it to “meme” level.

The cold hard facts: Eureka is located 5 hours north of San Francisco, 7 hours south of Portland, nestled with its twin city, Arcata, along the shores of Humboldt Bay. With the mountains to the east and the ocean to the left, Eureka enjoys a moderate climate, referred to as “cool-summer Mediterranean”. It has a population of about 30,000 which swells to 45,000 during the business day. It is the only deep water harbor between SF and Coos Bay, WA. And apparently everybody within 3-4 hours comes here for July 4th.

And now, for your reading pleasure, observations I have made in this 14 month period, in no particular order:

In our first week here, we saw a man in a finely tailored green silk suit (steampunk style). He was wearing a matching hat, also made of green silk; a top hat with an exaggerated brim, not unlike the Mad Hatter’s. It was at least 3 feet tall and at least that wide.

The fireworks on July 4th would put any major city to shame: over 20 minutes long, lots of incredible bursts–and all hand fired. I also got to see Captain America doing the walk of shame the morning of July 5th. I’ve seen a man walking his turkey. I’ve seen enough dreadlocks and tie-dye to wonder if this is really 1967. I’ve seen more than one dog sitting quite happily in the trailer on his master’s bike as they roll down the road. I’ve seen our local grocery store clerk, wearing his steampunk top hat to work (regular size), with trimmings to coordinate with the holidays. I’ve seen parts of the kinetic sculpture parade.

I have also seen the ocean as often as we can get out to the beach. Each time is the same–but different. When we got here, there was a little spit at our part of the beach. Nine months and countless tides later, it’s moved about 300 feet north. And at the beach, we see (and watch AND watch for): pelicans, seagulls of all kind; various other unidentified sea birds–and a pair of ravens who have staked out this stretch of sand for their own. We have seen seals, but no whales. Yet. We’ve seen people surfing and people trying to surf. Crazy children in the water (cold water!!), and lots and lots of dogs.

As my Beloved would tell you, on the East Coast, when you go to the beach there is a billboard of “Thou Shalt Nots”–no glass, no animals, no tents, no no no no. And the beaches are still wall to wall of oiled bodies…but here? There are three rules: Beware of the riptide (and you can see the difference in water color where it is); don’t turn your back on the ocean and if you feel an earthquake, think tsunami and go to high ground. Oh, and no parking from 10 pm to 6 am. (To discourage people from sleeping there.)

So on our beach there are dogs, happy happy dogs, running, fetching, splashing, then running up on the blanket to shake off on everyone. I’ve seen dogs from “Are you sure that’s a dog? Looks more like a rat.” up to “Are you sure that’s a dog? Looks more like a horse.” and every size in between. Just so you know: dog poop on the beach dries out (probably makes a great fire starter) and looks like brown rocks. Be careful in your stone collecting.

We’ve seen horses and their riders, trotting happily on the sand–or just like you see it in the movies, in the front edge of the water, running fast enough to make the ocean spray rise up as they move along. And of course the steel horses: ATVs, SUVs and Jeeps all passing by. I’ve watched kites flying in the ever-present wind (really never gets below about 4 mph). Children of all sizes and colors, gender irrelevant in the joy of being at the beach. Playing in the water, running shrieking as the waves come rolling in, making sand castles and digging out moats.

The beach is a happy place for us even though we can’t get very far down the beach. (It’s not the walk *down*, it’s have to come back *up* the hill, exacerbated by the fact that it’s not a nice solid stone hill, but a sand dune. In the “winter”, when it’s too chilly, we sit in the van and watch from that warmth. In the summer, when it’s cool but the sun warms you up…we drag out folding chairs out a few feet from the front of the van, set up and watch. We might bring some donuts (the best I’ve ever had, made by Asians…who knew?), or a sandwich. We’ve been known to bring beer–and so do other people.

And yet…there is no trash, no broken glass. The only detritus is the ashes of a fire pit (yes, you can have FIRE on the beach–and in fact, there’s a guy who drops off old pallets, just stacks them on the beach for anyone to use)–and the aforementioned “brown rocks”. The day after 4th of July, there was a lot of firework waste…and a young man, with his lady friend, were walking along the beach, picking it up. They filled their car with trash and beer cases. They didn’t belong to the city’s sanitation department, they had no connection to the county waste program. Just two citizens, doing their part to keep things clean.

And that’s something I could not find on the Internet. People take personal responsibility for keeping things neat and cleaned up. There are trash cans–and recycling cans–all over town. And people use them! Even the children know which kind of trash goes where. And the citizenry is HOT on recycling. Most of the people I see at the grocery store have brought their own (reusable) bags–and not just because the store gives a nickel’s credit for each bag. The UU fellowship we attend has two buckets to scrape potluck leftovers into–one for compost, the other is meat and other non-compost-able items.

I know what the statistics say about Eureka, unemployment and homeless population. Yes, there is a much more visible homeless population than we had in NoVA. I think because there, the problem is swept out of sight. We don’t want to acknowledge that there are people who don’t have a place to sleep at night…so we turn away and don’t see them. It’s hard to do that here since it is not this city’s goal to hide the problem. Oh, they occasionally get told to “move along”, but by and large, as long as they’re not hassling anyone, fighting or breaking the law (in the same manner that you or I might, NOT “breaking the law” by being poor and homeless), the police leave them alone. They sleep in the cover of the bushes or move up into the hills for warm weather. They have backpacks or shopping bags, or some even have discarded baby strollers. No baby, just their stuff–or, maybe their dog.

A lot of our homeless have a dog. And while the man may look thin and undernourished, the dog never does. The most common breed? The American Staffordshire Terrier (or as we all call them, “pit bulls”). And they are friendly, well behaved and utterly devoted to their human. Remember, this is the breed that used to be known as the “nanny dog” because they look out for their people. I have never seen two dogs get nasty with each other when they’re passing…like the people, they are kind and polite to each other as well as to the humans. (Lots of opportunity for a major dog fight out on the beach quite often. It’s never happened.)

And I’ve seen enough homeless people to know that this is the opening wave of what may very well be a lot more homeless people if the world (and our economy) continues to ignore the fact that if you kill off all the “not rich” people, there is no one to do the work or buy your products. So I’ve seen men and women, adults only–haven’t seen any children who are obviously homeless, but they must exist. I’ve seen young and old, veterans and civilians; black and white and red and yellow; in wheelchairs or scooters. They know when they should congregate out back of the Department of Health and Human Services for the guy who brings a truck with hot coffee (and food).

The homeless in Eureka make “stone soup” every night. Each person brings what they have and they share with each other. There is a food pantry in town where they can get a box of food for the month–something from each of the types of food: protein, vegetables, fruit, grains, dairy. It may not be the best of things, but it’s food. I know, we get our box once a month, too. Never thought I’d be doing that, but when there’s no income for me and we’re living off of Beloved’s SSDI…you take what you can get.

And here’s another funny thing about the homeless people here: they are polite, friendly and do NOT scream profanity at you if you don’t have any money. Oh, and they just ask for “spare change”. If you can’t, then they say, “No worries, thanks man.” And they go on with their day.

It must be something in the water, or perhaps it comes from the ocean air. All of the people here are polite and kind. They are patient, happily waiting until you can clear the register, no one in a hurry and getting irate. If you ask a question and they don’t know the answer, they will find someone who does–or stand there, talking to you, to work it out. The grocery store clerks will very happily pack and then take your bags out to the car–and put them into the car. Without holding their hand out and there’s no sign posted about”No tipping” (like Wegman’s in NoVA).

This extends to their driving. Rush hour here is a joke, compared to the soul-searing hell of rush hour everywhere in NoVA. In Virginia, we measured distance in time: how long will it take you to get there. Problem with that is if you live 20 miles from work and can travel on roads that are 55 mph, you can get there in as little as 30-35 minutes (depending on the lights) BUT it can also take a couple of hours without an apparent reason for that. And you never know, until you’re on the road, which kind of a day it is: half an hour or 2 hours.

Here in Eureka, rush hour means a little slow down, letting more people turn onto and off of the main road and dealing with the lights. When we first got here and were using the GPS to find our way around, we were coming down the road and the GPS bonged. Then the nice lady voice said, “Traffic congestion ahead, 2 miles. Time of delay: 2 minutes.” Beloved almost crashed the car because he was laughing at that so hard. I was too…traffic congestion in VA is like miles and miles of parking lot, with a delay of hours, not minutes. Better have your book and a bottle of water to pass the time.

The 4th of July weekend had about double the normal amount of traffic–and you could tell who was from out of town, because they drove like maniacs. Natives just go with the flow, letting people in and not sweating getting to their destination 5 minutes after they thought they would.

Okay, so I suck at coming back and finishing up a blog article. It’s now the 17th of February. But I am just going to add this to what I had started because it says what I wanted to say then and I wouldn’t change it now. I’ll just write some more about what’s going on now.

I’ve had my follow up appointment with my PCP (finally!). He’s still all hot for me to go see a neurosurgeon because of the issues with my spine–but I’m gonna kind of take it slow and try some other forms of treatment before going under the knife. It’s not just that I’d have to go to San Francisco to have the surgery, but that arrangements would have to be made for my convalescence. I cannot come up the stairs and then lay in the bed for a month or 6 weeks while things heal up. My Beloved cannot take care of me with all the things I’d need.

Part of my delay for getting cut open began today with my in-take evaluation at the physical therapy place here in town. (Called “Vector”, which is how I’ll refer to it from here on.) I’ll be doing water therapy in a pool that is kept at 84 degrees, in a room that is kept at 80 degrees. If I do nothing else, I can at least get gravity off my spine for a while. Pain relief is the main goal for me, so we shall see how it goes. I have already made the request for a TENS unit–a little box of Heaven which I look forward to with great anticipation.  Beloved also goes and so we’ve got a handful of simultaneous appointments “in the pool” for the next month.

I start with 7 visits: 1 in-take eval, 5 therapy sessions (in the pool!) and a 2nd eval to see if the therapy is having any results. It’s stupid because obviously, this therapy should be like my Vicodin: ongoing and maintenance levels. Not “take it for a week and then you shouldn’t need it any more”. But the therapist says that the VA will probably then allow 12 visits, so that’s another couple of months at once or twice a week. One small step at a time.

I have also gotten a change in my anti-depression medication. As you may remember, I have been taking Venlafexine (Efexor) and had come to realize that it’s just not doing as good a job as one could hope for. So we (the psychiatrist and me) are sliding me off the Venlafexine and slowing building me up on Welbutrin. We’ll see if that works. I hope so, otherwise I get to do this process again with another (different) medication. But I am willing to do whatever it takes to stop having suicidal thoughts.

We are eagerly anticipating a 10 day visit from Beloved’s parents. They will be staying in a motel, as we have absolutely no room to put them up in our apartment–and we’ll be introducing them to all the good places we’ve found to eat. I think they are more than ready to get out of NoVA and they want to live close to their children, so this visit is almost a house-hunting, get familiar with the town sort of a trip. His sister is in IL, and she would then just come here for holidays and rest trips, being able to see all of the family in one go instead of having to fly to the East Coast and the West Coast. I hope that Eureka meets their expectations–and then exceeds them, same as it did for us.

Nothing much else going on. Still waiting for the LTD insurance company to decide if they’re going to reinstate my benefits. They want an independent evaluation and that may mean a trip of up to 150 miles (one way) to see a doctor who will accept the job. Fortunately the company is willing to provide transportation and lodging. I need to ask if they will also be willing to give us some $$ for food. But this evaluation means that a decision about yes or no isn’t going to happen within the next month, maybe even two or three. The anxiety about money is a big one and it’s not getting any better until LTD comes through or, miracle of miracles, SSDI gets approved. I’m not holding my breath for either of them because I’d be long dead if I did.

So that’s about it for me now. It’s mostly SSDD, but I do like to check in with you all on a somewhat regular basis. I still have fibro, life is still pretty stressful, but I’m still hanging on and hoping for good things to come along. Peace out!

The Lost Child

Start here: Miscarriage Stories

And then there’s this:


So the battle over women, their bodies, pregnancy and the rights of the unborn continues to rage.  You can’t use birth control.  You can’t have an abortion if it’s beyond a certain amount of time, or if you weren’t raped, or if the child is deformed or the product of incest.  You can have the child removed forcibly from your body without your consent (Forcible Cesarean) or if you suffer catastrophic illness, up to death (and resuscitation) and you end up in a coma, you can be kept on life support to be an incubator for your fetus (TX woman in coma) against your express wishes to not have your own life extended by artificial means.

But what about the women who desperately want a child?  Who are actively attempting to become pregnant and have every intention of carrying the child for 40 weeks to a safe delivery–and cannot?  The sheer numbers of women who are not able to maintain a pregnancy are staggering.  (Fertility Data )  A long time ago I heard that 1 in 9 couples are not able to have a child together (which includes male infertility as well).  That’s a lot of people.  It’s greater than 10% of the population–or to put it into more imaginable perspective: if you have a party and invite 10 couples over, at least one of those couples will not be able to have a child.  And most of us know at least 10 couples.

I was very, very blessed.  I have never had to go through the agony of a miscarriage; I got pregnant three times and I have three children.  But I know far too many women who have had to deal with this–and sometimes, more than once.  Even my own mother had infertility problems.  The fact that she and my father were married for two years before I was born (and no birth control during that time) and my brother is 7 years younger than I am indicates a less-than-optimal chance for pregnancy for her.  And she had a miscarriage between the two of us.

My father’s mother had a miscarriage between each of her 4 children.  My mother’s mother carried to full term a daughter with esophageal atresia  where  the esophagus does not grow down to the stomach correctly–and this was in the 1940’s.  So the surgery they do to correct this today was barely out of its own infancy at the time.  My grandmother comforted herself by thinking that perhaps my aunt’s surgery, even though it was not successful for her, gave the doctors greater knowledge and ability so that they could save other children.  

And when we visited the cemetery where my grandparents were eventually buried, we always went to look at my aunt’s tiny grave, in a row of children’s graves.

Of course I have also had friends who miscarried.  So I have been a bystander in the sorrow of losing the promise of child, the hope of a baby that you’ll never know.  I cannot imagine the feelings involved and I prefer not to try.  Once I had my own children, I couldn’t bear to even think of anything bad happening to them.  I would weep just from news stories or magazine articles that dealt with childhood traumas and accidents.

A friend share the article above and coupled with the photograph, set me to thinking about all the “stuff” that goes on around pregnancies.  I can understand why there is a hesitation about announcing a pregnancy until the child has settled in solidly (so to speak).  It begs the question of whether this generation of women is having more miscarriages than women did before all the industrial agricorp foods, with the myriad of chemicals added to everything, the state of our environment and the lack of pure, unadulterated drinking water.  I’m not even sure where to start that kind of research and find numbers to put in this blog.

Regardless of why it happens, there are many reasons for miscarriage–or what can also be accurately called “spontaneous abortion” because the body itself will expel a fertilized ovum when the zygote has no chance of survival out of the womb.  (One of the odd biology class facts I’ve retained since high school (back in the dark ages, haha) is that 80% of all conceptions end in spontaneous abortion. So the fact that we even can get pregnant and stay pregnant long enough to increase our population only attests to how much loving is going on.)  The reason for your miscarriage may be different than the reason for your friend’s–or maybe there’s no understandable or knowable reason at all.  The point is, miscarriage is a very common occurrence…but that doesn’t make it any easier for any woman who has to go through it.

I ask you, then: why are so many women silent about what has happened?  There is no shame in a miscarriage; no stigma in the loss.  Or did I miss something?  I seem to remember my mother, and her mother, talking about miscarriage in a normal tone of voice–not a hushed, secretive voice.  Someone had miscarried and while that was very sad, it wasn’t a rare or unknown event (sorry to say).  When did it go underground?  And assuming I’m not wrong about that, WHY did it go underground?

If  we wait until after that first trimester to announce our pregnancy, what do we do about the pregnancies that turn into miscarriages?  How do we honor the life that was lost? How do we acknowledge the miracle of a beloved (but unknown) soul that didn’t make it onto the Earth? How do we mourn, when there is no grave to visit? No pictures to look at, no memories of the face of our child?

Even a very early miscarriage, when it is really just a blob of cells, hardly identifiable as being something that will be a person some day…even that blob holds the hope of a child, OUR child.  Please note that I am NOT getting into the discussion of when life begins.  I have VERY strong views on that which contain such phrases as “viability” and “live outside the womb unaided” and most especially “quality of life”–for the mother AND the child.  But every act of sexual intercourse without birth control contains the idea, the dice throw of possibility, of the starting point for the creation of life, which culminates with the bringing a new person into this world, planned for or not.

It is an inalienable right for every woman to decide what she tells anyone at all about her body and its condition, and pregnancy certainly falls under that right.  So does miscarriage.  Letting them know and NOT letting them know are both good, solid options.

But silence about something this life-altering may not be the BEST choice.  And I mean both states of being: “pregnant” and then “not pregnant”.  I’m not going to discuss silence about being pregnant.  That’s for another blog someday.  So let’s move on to the silence that very often surrounds miscarriage.

There are many, many reasons not to talk about a miscarriage.  Like any other tragedy, having to repeat it endlessly keeps it fresh and dreadful in the mind and heart.  And to put it bluntly, there are just some people who don’t need to butt into your business and don’t need to be told.  Those Helpful Hannahs will talk your ear off about THEIR miscarriage, and how THEY felt when all you want to do is scream your anguish and throw china dishes at the wall.  They are worse than those whose eyes tear up and they hold you close and just keep saying, “I’m so sorry.  I’m so sorry.”  Sympathy can be tolerated; clueless nattering about their pain without so much as a “I feel ya” to acknowledge yours is beyond bearing.

There’s also a sense of following the old adage of  “Least said, soonest mended.”  It’s over and done with, why keep talking about it?  No point in going on and on.  Move on with your life.  It’s not like it was “real baby” anyways…  It was just a miscarriage, for goodness’ sake.  REALLY?  I don’t care if it was an accidental pregnancy and now you don’t have to pay for an abortion.  (But you will pay in guilt and remorse for feeling relieved…and that’s not necessary, either.)  I don’t care if the woman had a history of “female problems” and was told she’d never even GET pregnant, so what did you expect anyway?  (Try to have hope that the doctors were wrong, that you can have a child of your body with your beloved…and then lose that hope in a gush of blood and pain.)  I don’t care if this was a carefully planned, carefully thought out pregnancy that ended in miscarriage through nobody’s fault, it just happens that way (and more often than one might think.)

Whatever the reason for becoming pregnant and whatever the cause for the miscarriage, you are going to have strong, sustained feelings about it.  Trying to mash them into a box in the back corner of the attic of your mind only means that they will pop out, like a Jack in the box, at the single most inopportune time and place.  Promise.  That’s how mashed feelings are.  Doesn’t matter what they are: relief, pain, sorrow, anger, whatever.  You’ve got’em and they ain’t going away.

So you lock them down and go back to “life before the pregnancy”.  Except that you WERE pregnant and now you’re not and everything has changed.  It’s like losing an arm or a leg, or suddenly being struck blind.  The world is completely different than the one before sperm and egg combined.  You can’t hide from babies in strollers, toddlers on swings, children playing tag on the grass.  You can’t pretend that you don’t see the fathers and the mothers, all with their children, living their lives together.  You cannot completely fool yourself into thinking that you’re just fine and this has not changed you in the least.

You may think to yourself, “But I DON’T want to talk about it.”  And then you get into the company of  a (any) group of women and the topic comes up.  One by one, the stories come out.  And friends you’ve had for years admit that they have a Lost Child somewhere out in the Universe, a child whose face they never saw.  And you…can either tell them or not, but you know that you are a part of this category of women forever, the Women Who Have Had a Miscarriage.

I am not advocating the wholesale blurting this out to everyone you meet.  (Although I suspect that there are women who do indeed deal with their own miscarriage by doing precisely that.)  What I’m saying is that who you tell is up to you.  It may just be to the child’s father.  Or your mother.  Or your doctor.  Doesn’t matter.  But you need to talk to someone who will listen to you without interrupting, who can offer you comfort and support, who can help you grieve for what was lost and can never be recovered, only replaced.

There is an easing of pain in this sharing of miscarriage and loss.  Trouble shared is trouble halved, so the saying goes.  I don’t know about that, but I do know that finding out that you are not alone in your sorrow, that others KNOW what you are going through…makes it possible for you to go on.  Just knowing that someone else has climbed this mountain means that it can be climbed, that you can do it as well.  Sometimes, that’s all we need to make through another day, to keep on with living until the pain subsides to a dull roar and then a faint echo that only catches us occasionally instead of constantly.

With every tragedy there is also a lesson we learn, a strength we are given or a willingness to accept what is and find a way to live with that.  Your Lost Child may guide you, through their very absence, to an aspect of your own being that you did not know you had, or had not given enough attention to its formation and growth.  It may be a chance for someone in your life to become closer to you, love growing out of like and friendship into something more, in the common bond of the grieving.  It may strengthen the relationship with your significant other; if you can weather this dreadful a storm together, clinging to each other and coming through the other side more committed to each other…then you can face anything together and win.

I would also suggest that you talk frankly, and openly, with any siblings the Lost Child might have had, in an age appropriate manner of course.  Even if it’s a bit awkward for you, even if everyone cries…this is life, it’s not always like you see on TV.  Sometimes bad stuff happens and this is how our family deals with it–together and with love (and information!).  If you don’t, you do a disservice to your children.  If they are old enough to understand it (even if it’s only that something bad happened), they are old enough to talk about it, even in the most simple terms.

My son was five years old when my grandmother died–and we were at her bedside for that last weekend of her life.  She waited until everyone had left the room on Monday morning and then departed for the other side.  So we then had to go into action, getting the body out and preparing the funeral, etc.  He went out back and was sitting on the porch when the next door neighbor came out and asked what he was doing…he told her that Grandmom had died and he was sad.  She agreed that it was something to be sad about and later on, told me what had happened.

Talk about guilt.  He felt that he couldn’t come to me, because I was up to my eyeballs in stuff and I hadn’t even realized he was outside.  So the moral to this particular little story is that even a fairly young child can understand when something momentous occurs, good or bad.  And as their parent, it is up to you to help them absorb it and express the feelings it creates.  And it’s always good to let them know that you also have feelings about it, and what those feelings are.

There is so much that can be associated with this Lost Child of yours.  The Lost Child may not have ever had a name but you will carry them in your heart for the rest of your life.  The Lost Child is a dream, the best and most perfect child one could hope for.  The Lost Child is the one that would fulfill all of your plans for offspring, would have succeeded beyond measure, would be all that you were not or that your other children could not accomplish.  The Lost Child will tease your thoughts with “What would he/she have looked like?”  “What would she/he have accomplished, would they have been like me or my husband?”  All the “what ifs”, all the unknown events and all the uncelebrated milestones belong to that Lost Child.

I offer you this bit of solace for your Lost Child: wherever the Lost Child goes, whatever your beliefs about afterlife and souls…they are never alone.  They are with all the other Lost Children, playing and singing and occasionally, whispering in your ear to remind you that once upon a time, they were YOUR Lost Child.

We each handle things in our own way, for sure. But sometimes silence is not the answer and we need to share the pain to make it easier to bear. Blessings of comfort and peace to all who have had this happen to them; my sisters, we are here to offer whatever you need, if only to listen to the story of your Lost Child.


Japanese Minimalism in a Consumerist World

We did it!  We actually, honest to the gods, did it.  Through terror and anxiety, with the help of friends and family…we packed a few boxes that my father-in-law is going to send to us, but the rest of the household stuff either went to someone else’s house, to the Fauquier County thrift store, or into the trash.  I don’t even want to think of the dollar value of the things that were straight out trashed.  It’s over and done with, I don’t know what exactly it was and I won’t ever see it again, so no need to think about it or worry over it.  I didn’t even have to clean the house, as F-i-law also hired someone to help us who managed to clean it up for me.

Things were so off schedule that we went to the airport in the clothes we had been wearing for about 3 days as we had packed and pitched and so on–there was no time to shower or put on traveling clothes.  Oh well.  We got to the airport and through TSA (might I suggest going in a a wheelchair, as you move to the head of the line?) and were at the gate with about 30 minutes to spare before the scheduled loading time.  You note that I said “SCHEDULED” loading time.  The plane was delayed 3 hours.  So we sat and tried to decompress from the high pressures of the month of preparation for that moment.

And as another note, I will never fly anything but First Class again.  Should I ever fly anywhere again.  Before we’re even off the ground, the First Class stewardesses are handing out drinks–and I mean DRINKS.  We had gin and tonics.  Once we were off the ground, it was more drinks, warmed mixed nuts and then dinner.  (Very nice, reasonably good food)  Then more drinks if you wanted and the TV was free, so we could watch movies or whatever.  Mr. Technology watched the live feed of our flight, sort of like watching the GPS when you’re driving.

We arrived in Sacramento to find the nice young men with the wheelchairs at the airplane DOOR.  They took us through the terminal, got our bags and we loaded up into the hotel shuttle.  Off to the hotel, which was very nice, thanks to our friend E who had provided it for us.  SLEEP, blessed sleep.  Up and out in the morning, back over to the airport to pick up the rental car and up the state we drove.

Got to Eureka just in time for my beloved to keep his promise: we stood on the beach and watched the sun set into the ocean.  It was cold and windy, so no toesies in the water.  And mostly, I just stood there and cried.  If I had actually been able to put my toes in the water, I think the rest of me would have followed.  Then off to dinner at the Cambodian place I had found during my research; very good food, interesting combination of Thai, Cambodian and Vietnamese.

And then began our learning about Eureka.  When I had been on Craig’s List, looking at cars and rentals, it was before the plague of locusts had arrived, in the form of the HSU students, who had taken every possible rental and all the cheap (but drive-able) cars.  It took longer than we had hoped (and budgeted for) to find a place to live–but here we are, actually about 4 miles south of Eureka, in Fields Landing.  We had to settle for an upstairs apartment–but we have also discovered that the stairs here are built lower in rise–about 4-5 inches–instead of the 7 inches in VA.  So there’s more of them, but you don’t have to do a high step to climb them.

So…you come up the stairs, and turn to the right to our apartment.  You walk into the kitchen (which has brand new stove and refrigerator) and then it’s a right hand turn through what is ostensibly the living room, but that is our bedroom, because it’s then another right hand turn into the largest room of the apartment, which we are using as living space.  The bathroom is off of this room, with only a walk-in shower, no tub.  Oh well.  The room itself has two windows, which face west–and if I look carefully, I can see the bay.  So water is only about 3 blocks away.

The apartment has been just redone, repainted and repaired—and like I said, new appliances.  We have a year’s lease but will then go month to month.  So we have time to look around and find a ground floor place, maybe a house even.  The stove is gas, as is the heat.  People have been telling us that sometimes the PG&E (gas and electric combined utility) bill is “high”–as much as $50 or $60 dollars per month.  We fall out laughing, since we were paying about an average of $180 per month.  I think we can handle this.

We explored the natural food store I had found online–it’s okay, a bit disappointing and not quite what I had hoped–but nearby is the North Coast Co-op and I suspect that we will do the majority of our shopping there.  We always have Costco–and this one nearly specializes in organic foods, because of the high demand for them here.

We’ve done our bit to get into the various helpful systems here–been to Social Services, got me updated in the VA health system and talked to their extra services (none of which we are eligible for as long as my LTD will hold out).  We have also had to go to Verizon for our phones since our (old) Sprint phones had exactly 0% coverage in the new place.  Verizon has a new tower on the hill just behind our apartment.

Since we didn’t bring furniture, we’re having to add it as we can.  Thanks to the generosity of friends and family, we were able to buy the actual bed we wanted instead of the interim we had planned–and so we’re sleeping great.  We bought some fold-down tables and got me a folding chair from Costco–and figure that this will work for the long term as well.

We met the neighbors from the house next door–seems they got a piece of mail for us, and coincidences abound when they told us that they used to live in this apartment.  They have been very informative and friendly, so we’ve already got someone to hang out with!  They have given us a chair that they were getting rid of that so Beloved doesn’t have to sit on a suitcase or lay on the bed to use his computer.

We’ve also met the man who lives in the apartment across the hall–a student at the College of the Redwoods, but an older man.  He’s in the middle of finals week, so we’re only catching glimpses of him for now.

Everyone here is kind, polite and as helpful as they can be.  No matter if it’s someone on the phone, at the store, or in a restaurant, even just on the street.  There is definitely a slower pace of life here–and based on the people we’ve seen, this is the Bohemian/tie-dye capital of the US.  Lots of dreadlocks, even (or especially) on the white people.  Lots of flannel pajama bottoms instead of pants (on the college students, I think).

The town itself is like stepping back into the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s.  Victorian homes, Craftsman style, Cape Cods…and things that look like the slave runs on plantations–all in the same block.  And there’s no “good” part of town versus a “bad” part of town.  It all sort of runs together.  And there’s a lot of dichotomy here: tech savvy people, listening to iPods and using tablets, but most restaurants do not have a website or online menu.  And the working people (waiters/waitresses, store clerks, etc) wear…almost anything, a lot of gauged ears and piercings and tattoos–but are some of the most professional people I’ve met.  And they are more than willing to go the extra steps to get you what you want, including ordering items for the store that doesn’t currently carry that thing.

The kindness and generosity to the veteran population is overwhelming to me.  I am not used to it, but once people find out that I am a vet, we get discounts and stuff that I wouldn’t have thought of asking for.  Apparently there’s a sufficient population of veterans that it’s just a matter of habit here in Eureka.

I told people before we moved that if it only turned out to be 50% of as wonderful as we hoped, it would still be better than staying in VA.  Well, that’s turning out to be quite true.  There are some down sides.

The un-considered and un-planned delay in finding housing really ate into our budget.  Our last major thing is a car, and we may have to do the “$199 down, and a million dollars a month for the rest of your life” plan to get one.  Ok, not quite that bad, but you know what I mean.  And we MUST have a car, and one that my dear Beloved will both fit into and be comfortable driving.  We are hoping for a van, fingers crossed.

As we drive around, and as we talk to more locals, we are discovering just how incredibly economically depressed this area is.  The jobless rate was not something I factored in; we aren’t going to need/have a job, so I didn’t really look at the unemployment rate.  And there are jobs to be had, but there is a large and visible homeless population.  (I’m willing to bet that it’s really no bigger in relation to the general population than in VA, only that in VA, we sneer at them and either render them invisible because we will not see them, or we shame them into trying to appear as “normal” as possible.  That’s not done here.)  There is an ongoing fight against meth and meth makers / dealers / users.  In fact, the house on the corner across from us is boarded up–used to be a meth house, and very active all the time.  BUT they got them out of here.  Oh, I know, to go somewhere else, but at least it’s not on my front doorstep now.

Another sign of the general “poorness” of the area is all the thrift stores–and there are a lot of them.  The “stylish” ones are up near the college (HSU) and get their stuff from the kids when they leave, so we’ve already been told that the time to hit those is just before the start of the semester, when they are full and ready for the students to descend, or just after the end of the term, when the students dump all the stuff they’re not taking with them.  We had not realized just how much of an impact that college has on all of the little towns around it–and HSU is actually about 5 miles north of Eureka, in Arcata.

Most of the restaurants are small, family run businesses.  So far, we’ve had some really good meals, only one was “eh” and only one was “never going back”–and that one was for a weird reason–the food was fresh, well cooked and beautifully presented, but…all the sauces came out of a bottle.  And for Chinese food?  That’s a sin.  We’ve already found a better one, with homemade sauces that are off the hook.  There are chain restaurants–mostly fast food, but there is an Appleby’s in town.

Eureka actually has TWO malls; there is a KMart, WalMart and a Target.  I, however, have already picked out about 27 things I want from the fair trade section (non-food items) in the Co-op.  Between Costco and the Co-op, I think I can manage most of our shopping.  Clothes…probably from online, until I am able to actually take the time to wander through the thrift stores and find all the Bohemian clothes I’ve wanted for years and couldn’t get…either because work wouldn’t let me or because I was used to was married to a very conservative, conventional man who would not have liked it.  The only thing Beloved has said is that he literally cannot stand tie-dye as it gives him a headache.  Patterns and patchwork don’t, so…it’s the gypsy life for me.

It’s interesting to see just how easy it is to live without all that stuff we used to have.  And that the desire to replace it has not surfaced.  There are some things we will need to get–cleaning products and the tools to use them (dust mop, etc).  We will be replacing the convection oven with a (slightly bigger and better) one because we used that a lot.  And we want a juicer, to get more of our vegetables in as close to nature as we can instead of taking a lot of supplements.  But generally, we aren’t going to buy a lot of “stuff”–and I don’t think either of us misses it.

Having to bring it up a flight of stairs adds another item on the checklist of “how necessary is this” so we can, I hope, live in the minimalist way we wanted when we chose to move and not return to being a candidate for “Hoarders”.  We look forward to spending time OUT of the house, which we were not doing in VA.  There’s a lot going on here: the beach, the coffee houses, and yes, the gaming.  We’ve been to North Coast Roleplaying and talked to the owner–who indicated a LARGE community of tabletop game players, including Pathfinders and ShadowRun.

So from this particular vantage point, I would say that we were right to move.  It has had unexpected events, both good and bad, as all things do.  Will it all be sunshine and rainbows?  I doubt it.  Will it be better than where we were, both physically and mentally?  Absolutely.  And we have already gone to one service at the local UU fellowship–and were completely overwhelmed by them.  They made a point of telling us way more than I can absorb about activities–in fact, we’re eating lunch with them at their after service “Soup and Salad” (although more soup because it’s a bit chilly) lunch that benefits a local charity tomorrow.  And we get to “sit at the captain’s table” which was a specific invitation to sit with the (new) minister.

Physically, we hope that the organic food and cleaner environment will help, as well as any benefits we might find from medicinal pot (still working on that one).  Mentally, the pace of life is slower, the worries and anxieties of life exist but not at the heightened levels of living near DC and we can handle the more gradual increase in costs of living as it is so much lower to begin with.  Spiritually, I have the ocean in front of me and Beloved needs only to turn to look behind us to see the mountains; these two areas are the most important ones to us individually and to find them in such close proximity that we are both able to be near what matters to us is life-saving and easing to the mind and spirit.  Having HUUF as sacred space only adds to that.  We are also able to be more open about our paths as there is not the ummmm abundant Christian/fundamental/Bible-thumping/ everyone else is wrong population as there was in VA.

Do we miss our families and friends from back East?  Of course, and that’s why the gods invented the Interwebs, Skype and cell phones.  And, in this case, my blog.  Our door is always open to those who want to come see us; there is always room around my table to feed anyone who shows up.  Will this save OUR lives, keep us sane (help maintain what little sanity we actually have, haha) and give us a better way of life that we can afford on a very fixed income?  ABSOLUTELY.

It’s not all that I (or we) thought it would be.  It’s more and it’s less.  Same as the rest of real life.


Family, Illness, Fear and Loathing in My Own Life

So this begins with a series of email my mother sent me, emails of political or religious nature; her views and mine do not agree and so after receiving “one more” emotionally inflammatory and incorrect email, I send this as part of my email to her: “If you do not know for yourself that what you send me is true, please don’t send it.  I have an Internet connection and in about 10 minutes, I will have checked it on for blatant lies and then sought out reputable (and not paid for by the Koch Brothers or their ilk) sources for the questionable stuff.  You can thank my husband for my new political awareness but can only blame yourself for my inability to swallow horse manure.  Especially when it’s delivered in such grand, large portions.

Republicans AND Democrats will lie to the public.  I acknowledge this, which is why I get most of my news from the UK, Reuters or Al-Jazheera.  Most politicians no longer represent their constituency; they serve corporate masters.  Frankly, the Republicans win the prize for the most blatant disregard of the people they are supposed to be serving (See: OH, NC and TX, and their questionable actions in bringing in some of the most stringent, draconian anti-abortion laws, in direct challenge to Roe v. Wade).  And if you think Mr. Obama hasn’t done what he should have in 6 years, you can blame that on the intransigent, intractable, immovable Republicans in the Congress.  ”

We had reached the point at least a year prior where I had asked her to stop spamming (mass mailing) or particularly sending me religious posts.   So this email, pointing out the errors of her email and asking her to stop sending it is dated July 10.  Well, here’s what followed:

July 22 (hers is in black, my reply is in red.  Please note that I really try to get off these topics with her.)



WRITTEN BY A 21 YEAR OLD FEMALE –  Wow, this girl has a great plan!  Love the last thing she would do the best.This was written by a 21 yr old female who gets it. It’s her future she’s worried about and this is how she feels about the social welfare big government state that she’s being forced to live in! These solutions are just common sense in her opinion.

This was in the Waco Tribune Herald, Waco , TX


Put me in charge of food stamps. I’d get rid of Lone Star cards; no cash for Ding Dongs or Ho Ho’s, just money for 50-pound bags of rice and beans, blocks of cheese and all the powdered milk you can haul away. If you want steak and frozen pizza, then get a job.

Rice, beans, cheese and powdered milk are NOT a balanced or healthy diet.  Poor people are fat because they have to buy the food they can afford, which is often carbohydrate intensive and lacking in basic nutrition.  This also leads to health issues like diabetes and heart disease, increasing their cost to the Government through Medicaid or Medicare.  I am very grateful that we receive food stamps and that I can shop for the food I eat, regardless of what other people think about my choices.  And I am not “wasting” that Government benefit when I buy not only steak, but grass fed, pastured beef steak.  I am buying the healthiest food possible and food stamps help us stretch our food budget and still have a healthy, balanced diet.  I shudder to think what we would look like if we lived on rice, beans, cheese and powdered milk.

Put me in charge of Medicaid. The first thing I’d do is to get women Norplant birth control implants or tubal legations. Then, we’ll test recipients for drugs, alcohol, and nicotine. If you want to reproduce or use drugs, alcohol, or smoke, then get a job. 

This is right up there with sterilizing the mentally retarded.  And Florida has already proven that testing the welfare recipients cost a lot more money than the two (yes, TWO) who failed the test are costing the system.  
I WISH I had had Medicaid for the 7 months I was without insurance and before the VA accepted my claim to health benefits.  I went to the free clinic and was able to actually get my fibromyalgia medication through them–or I would have had to do without, which means being untreated and therefore unable to do very much at all.  But WE paid for my pain medications because the free clinic does not dispense narcotics or opiates–you know, because of all those “drug addicts” who are abusing the system.  Oops, not in Fauquier County, they aren’t.

Now I have the interesting problem of getting almost all of my meds through the VA–except for one of my fibro med, arguably the most important, because it’s “not on their formulary”, so they don’t dispense it.  I have a prescription for it, so once again, we will have to pay for it if I am to take it.  Just one more item to come out of Beloved’s SSDI check, our only source of income at the moment.  And Beloved is now without health insurance until his Medicare kicks in, August 2014.  His head meds are paid for, through the free clinic.  But what about his pain meds, his gout meds, his high blood pressure pills?  His prescription acid reflux medication?  We will also be paying for those as we can, and hoping that the free clinic will be able to give us most of them.  But we’re not counting on it.

Incidentally, there are NO “Welfare Queens”, living off the system and laughing it up at taxpayer’s expense.  This is a fabrication, made up by people who think ANY government involvement in our lives is unacceptable–and these same people are usually benefiting in some way from a government program of some sort…ironic.

Yes, sometimes welfare recipients get more money than minimum wage workers.  That’s because the minimum wage is NOT a living wage, and welfare is at least trying to provide enough money to LIVE on.  So “getting a job” might actually mean a standard of living LOWER than being on welfare.  And that is called “poverty”, which nearly HALF of the citizens of this nation live in or at the ragged edge, due partly because minimum wage is NOT a living wage.  The average minimum wage earner must work a 67 hour work week in order to “afford” the necessities of life.

Put me in charge of government housing. Ever live in a military barracks? You will maintain our property in a clean and good state of repair. Your home” will be subject to inspections anytime and possessions will be inventoried.  If you want a plasma TV or Xbox 360, then get a job and your own place.

And here is where this “21 year old female” shows her complete lack of “real world” living.  First off, there is not enough military housing to accommodate the welfare recipients.  Secondly, this seems an awful lot like rounding up the “undesirables” and putting them into concentration camps.  Separate them, keep them from the rest of society.  Make sure they NEVER can integrate with the “rest of us”.  They don’t “deserve” it.  REALLY?  People do NOT choose to be on welfare; it’s simply NOT this program that allows you to live like royalty without some effort on your part.  Most people who have to use welfare are off of it within a year.  Whoopi Goldberg received welfare; J K Rowling also received the comparable British governmental payments before she wrote “Harry Potter”.  It’s not a “hand out”, it’s a “hand up” and it needs to be given with respect and dignity, to help those who need it and to guide them being able to “get a job” (that will pay a living wage; NOT a job at Wal-Mart where they will make about $8/hour AND receive training in how to apply for Social Services in their town.  EACH Wal-Mart store costs the government $900,000 in food stamps and other Social Services BECAUSE they refuse to pay their employees a LIVING wage.  And ALL of the Walton heirs are amongst the top 1% of the richest people in this nation.  How do they sleep at night?  Apparently very well, secure that they will have more money than they ever know what to do with… Incidentally, at least here in VA, Beloved and I are NOT eligible for welfare because we do not have any children.  And before you think that’s just more reason to sterilize welfare recipients, be aware that ONE IN FOUR — TWENTY-FIVE PERCENT — of the children in this nation go to bed hungry because their parents can’t feed them.  We are a Third World country, with a decimated “middle class” and the most unequal wealth distribution in history–and Fox News and their ilk will NOT report this, and the corporate propaganda machines will continue to churn out “Hooray USA” because they don’t want you to realize that everything that made this country great has gone to Hell in a hand basket.  All it takes is a little research and awareness of what is going on around you–look at the people you see in the grocery stores, at the mall…  Look at the people who are walking along the streets, go down to the Social Services offices and watch to see what kind of citizen goes in.  I know here, in our Social Services, it’s predominately white, but there’s young and old, male and female, married, with children or without, every demographic is well represented–except of course for the wealthy.  Why are more people applying to welfare?  Because so many employers have refused to pay a LIVING wage (different than the minimum wage, and the Koch Brothers are working to get rid of the minimum wage) that in order to feed their children, they must go on welfare.  They can’t afford childcare for the 67 hours they’d have to work to get enough money to live on.  And don’t say, “Well, they shouldn’t have had children.”  You did.  And what if, when Lowell was 3 or 4, Dad had lost his job and all he could get was something that paid, oh let’s say $3.75 per hour.  We couldn’t have lived on that–and like you, most of these people had their children when they had a job and thought they would be able to afford a family.  You don’t know the circumstances and to make a blanket statement about (essentially) sterilizing them and denying them the choice…is completely wrong.  Offer birth control, teach how family planning is the best way to take care of your family…but to mandate surgical procedures to get money?  Ummm, NO.

In addition, you will either present a check stub from a job each week or you will report to a “government” job. It may be cleaning the roadways of trash, painting and repairing public housing, whatever we find for you. We will sell your 22 inch rims and low profile tires and your blasting stereo and speakers and put that money toward the “common good..”

I actually have no problem with “workfare”–but I would also take it beyond just making them clean public buildings.  I would offer job training and help in job placement.  So why aren’t more of them getting jobs?  Oh that’s right, many of the jobs that used to be here in the US are now in China.  Or Malaysia, or some place else where labor is cheap and there aren’t things like governmental interference and mandated “minimum wages”.  We used to be a country that manufactured stuff…not any more.  We are a service economy which will inevitably fail.  And people on welfare are doing their best to put food on the table and cloths on their backs, trying to keep a roof over their heads.  They don’t have a lot of “free money” to purchase services.  And it’s not just people on welfare… it’s also those who are barely making ends meet, working longer and harder hours than anyone else in the so-called “First World”, who live in a world of revolving debt, trying to maintain some fiction of having money and those “services” the middle class can afford.  Except that our middle class is dying, squeezed to death by the corporations (“And aren’t you glad that you have a job in these tough economic times?”  — Beloved was asked this at work, so I’m not making it up…it really does get asked) and there’s no end in sight because “corporations are people”. 

Before you write that I’ve violated someone’s rights, realize that all of the above is voluntary. If you want our money, accept our rules  Before you say that this would be “demeaning” and ruin their “self esteem,” consider that it wasn’t that long ago that taking someone else’s money for doing absolutely nothing was demeaning and lowered self esteem. If we are expected to pay for other people’s mistakes we should at least attempt to make them learn from their bad choices. The current system rewards them for continuing to make bad choices.

Once again, the author shows her complete ignorance of why people are on welfare, need Medicaid, are using food stamps.  It’s not about mistakes…it’s about “shit happens” and sometimes you need help–that does NOT come from religious institutions or your neighbors and family.  While many religious groups do offer food pantries or some limited amount of money (a one time payment for rent, for example), they are not set up primarily to aid the poor and can require a certain agreement on the part of the recipients to also participate in their particular religious life.  In other words, you have to “be like us” to be given “our” help.  The same lack of consistent funds is true for family and neighbors–if you even know your neighbors and live close enough to your family to even make their care possible.  

Neither of us is in a position to help the other, for example–no matter how much we want to, our situations preclude any meaningful amount of help.  It’s not like we could move in with you, or you with us; our budgets do not include sending a check to the other.  And that’s okay, because there is a source of consistent and available income IF you qualify…and we have to re-qualify on a regular basis.  So the idea that we could be rich on welfare…doesn’t exist.  There are all kinds of checks and measures to ensure that no one can, simply because of the rumor of the “welfare queen”.  

Beloved and I have a friend who has received an SSDI check his entire life; he is not mentally capable of taking care of himself.  He gets a check for a whopping $400 PER MONTH.  That’s ALL he gets to live on.  He AND his mother get food stamps…$16 per month.  For both of them.  HE is the kind of person more likely to be on government subsistence and it’s not enough.  He can’t own too much, or they’ll take away some of that enormous check he gets. (Sarcasm!)  He has walked from Manassas to Richmond because of paperwork requirements for his “free government hand out”.  He’s been on this system for almost 20 years…and he will tell you that he has NEVER met that “welfare queen” –and he’s seen a LOT of welfare recipients.  If you know where that money is being handed out, let us know, because we’ll take him and go get some for ourselves.

AND While you are on Gov’t subsistence, you no longer can VOTE! Yes, that is correct. For you to vote would be a conflict of interest. You will voluntarily remove yourself from voting while you are receiving a Gov’t welfare check. If you want to vote, then get a job.

This part is particularly stupid and demeaning.  Voting is a RIGHT and unless you have been found guilty of breaking the law, with your rights suspended as a result of that verdict, NO ONE can just “remove” your rights.  Which is really what this girl is talking about: removing your right to have a family (“Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”); removing your right to live where you please, removing your right to elect the very people who are overseeing the programs that you count on and are a part of.  I would think that gives you an even stronger incentive to vote.  People on welfare are a part of our society, and we need adequate representation of EVERY person in the elections, not just angry, old, white men who seem determined to remove everyone else’s rights.  (And this young woman, who I am willing to be someone who has never had to worry about where her next meal was coming from, or that her employer wouldn’t pay her a living wage so that she could afford to live on her own–most of the apartments in this area are set up for a “housemates’ situation–because NO ONE can afford to live around here on their own.)


Ummm NO.  I won’t, and not because I lack guts.  I sent it back to you with MY opinions–and cited evidence where necessary, didn’t I?  It reads easy, seems like a good answer to the problems (if “welfare queens” were real, anyways) and she appeals to the mob sentiment of “we” don’t need these programs, but “they” do, so we have to control “them” and limit what they might actually receive.  Well, I am a part of “them”.  I NEED food stamps and I wish I could have medical assurance that I would receive ALL the medications my doctor(s) think I need–and Beloved, too.  He is on SSDI, arguably a form of Social Security, but he has not paid into it his entire life–just the first 20 some years.  So odds are good that he will be paid more “out” than he put “in”.  And we NEED that money.  It’s all we have right now, and $1350 doesn’t go far when your rent is $800.  Part of the reason we’re moving to Eureka is the cost of living is 30-40% LOWER than here in VA.  So our limited and set income will cover more of our costs.  There is every indication that I will also be approved for SSDI–and I haven’t paid in very much at all, comparatively.  And when we get to Eureka, we will RE-apply for food stamps (indications are that we will have to wait a year, to establish residency)…and we may not need to if we find that we can get through that year without them.  When Peter was still in the military, we were VERY eligible for food stamps–but we chose not to get them because we knew that we could live on what he was making.  That’s not so true now, which is not just a shame, but a damned shame to say about active duty military people–like William and Maria.  

I would offer this suggestion: please stop sending me political propaganda of any sort, and I’ll stop correcting it with cited sources and sending it back.  Just so we’re clear on this, I voted for Mr. Obama; I don’t think he’s somehow infallible–he’s a politician and has his own failings–but I do think that he was a MUCH better choice than that man with an elevator for his cars and the idea that an income of $250,000 per year is “middle class”(Source for actual statistics of “middle class” is wikipedia, here: where there is a table down the page comparing various demographs…and NO WHERE on that chart does the number 250,000 appear.  Talk about “out of touch” with the average American.)  
Mr. Obama may be “just a community leader” but we need community now, more than ever.  We have become so divisive, us versus them, no matter what the difference is that we’re talking about…

Regardless of your views on abortion, the very notion that a roomful of old white men should be making ANY decisions about a woman and her medical choices is outrageous–and dangerous.  This whole anti-choice program is merely the start to remove HUMAN rights, beginning with females.  We have already effectively lost many of our 4th Amendment rights thanks to the Patriot Act…which is somehow not very Patriotic but much more about taking away the citizens’ rights.  In the meantime, more and more rights are being handed to corporations–don’t even start me on Monsanto, which I consider to be the most evil thing in the Universe at this point in time.  Like our individual choices about religion, politics is an area that we will probably not agree on, so it’s just better to let it go. 

And then began the veritable flood of religious and political emails, as offensive as they could get:

(Picture)F R O G we all need one.
I do hope this returns to ME the sender! Isn’t the little green guy sort of cute?(Picture)

I was told a story about a lady in the hospital who was near death, when a Chaplain came to visit her.This Chaplain was a young female, with long blond hair. She listened to the lady who was ill and left her a small gift for comfort, a tiny ceramic frog.The next day a friend from church came to visit.The lady told her friend about the beautiful young Chaplain who had come to visit her. The friend was so impressed with the way her friend had improved and felt the need to talk to the young Chaplain. In her search to find the young girl, she was repeatedly reassured that their chaplains are never very young, and that there was never a girl that fit the description given.
Upon returning to her friend in the hospital, a visiting nurse entered the room and noticed the ceramic frog.The nurse made the comment “I see you have a guardian angel with you.” As she held the frog we asked why she made the comment and we were informed what the frog stood for:

“Forever Rely On God”

To The World You Might Be One Person;
But To One Person You Might Be the World.
You have been Tagged by the Froggy,

which means you are a great friend!!

You will BE BLESSED if you send this to more people.
Friends are quiet Angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly.
Hi Lord, it’s me. Things are getting bad here, gas prices are too high, too few jobs, too much disrespect and violence, food and heating costs too high. I know some have taken You out of our schools, government & even Christmas. But Lord I’m asking you to come back and re-bless America . We really need You.Thanks Lord, I love You!


The Lord says when 2 or more are gathered in My Name, there I will be also!!! Let’s see how far this goes. Please pass this on…

Please God… please Bless America again.


Then this arrived:

Subject: A country Founded by Geniouses but Run by Idiots

Attributed to Jeff Foxworthy:

If you can get arrested for hunting or fishing without a license, but not for entering and remaining in the country illegally — you might live in a nation that …was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If you have to get your parents’ permission to go on a field trip or to take an aspirin in school, but not to get an abortion — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If you MUST show your identification to board an airplane, cash a check, buy liquor, or check out a library book and rent a video, but not to vote for who runs the government — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If the government wants to prevent stable, law-abiding citizens from owning gun magazines that hold more than ten rounds, but gives twenty F-16 fighter jets to the crazy new leaders in Egypt — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If, in the nation’s largest city, you can buy two 16-ounce sodas, but not one 24-ounce soda, because 24-ounces of a sugary drink might make you fat — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If an 80-year-old woman or a three-year-old girl who is confined to a wheelchair can be strip-searched by the TSA at the airport, but a woman in a burka or a hijab is only subject to having her neck and head searched — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If your government believes that the best way to eradicate trillions of dollars of debt is to spend trillions more — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If a seven-year-old boy can be thrown out of school for saying his teacher is “cute,” but hosting a sexual exploration or diversity class in grade school is perfectly acceptable — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If hard work and success are met with higher taxes and more government regulation and intrusion, while not working is rewarded with Food Stamps, WIC checks, Medicaid benefits, subsidized housing, and free cell phones — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If the government’s plan for getting people back to work is to provide incentives for not working, by granting 99 weeks of unemployment checks, without any requirement to prove that gainful employment was diligently sought, but couldn’t be found — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If you pay your mortgage faithfully, denying yourself the newest big-screen TV, while your neighbor buys iPhones, time shares, a wall-sized do-it-all plasma screen TV and new cars, and the government forgives his debt when he defaults on his mortgage — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If being stripped of your Constitutional right to defend yourself makes you more “safe” according to the government — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

What a country!

How about we give God a reason to continue blessing America!

Then I had to deal with this:

67 years later!

What happened to the radiation that lasts thousands of years?

We all know that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed in August 1945 after the explosion of atomic bombs.
However, we know little about the progress made by the people of that land during the past 67 years.

(Series of pictures, all modern and fabulous looking)DETROIT- 65 YEARS AFTER HIROSHIMA

(Series of Pictures, all decrepit and ruined)

What has caused more long term destruction – the A-bomb, or Government welfare programs created to buy the
votes of those who want someone to take care of them

Japan does not have a welfare system.  (That is an out and out lie: )
Work for it or do without.

These are possibly the 5 best (BIGGEST LIES) sentences you’ll ever read and all applicable to this experiment:

1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.
2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.
3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.
4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it!
5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.
Can you think of a reason for not sharing this? Neither could I.

Next, I had to read this:

OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  (Which I sincerely doubt my mother even knows what it means, since she does not “take the Lord’s name in vain”)


Look who’s new in the white house!Arif Alikhan – Assistant Secretary for Policy Developmentfor the U.S. Department of Homeland Security

 Mohammed Elibiary – Homeland Security Adviser

Rashad Hussain – Special Envoy to the (OIC) Organization of the Islamic Conference

Salam al-Marayati – Obama Adviser -founder Muslim Public Affairs Council and its current executive director

Imam Mohamed Magid – Obama’s Sharia Czar – Islamic Society of North America

Eboo Patel – Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships

This is flat out scary!!!!   The foxes are now living in the hen house…Now ask me why I am concerned!!!

Then this, while interesting, not going to change my religious views:

Subject: God vs. Science–thought provoking! Read until the very surprise ending.

This one has been around many times but is still good.

Don’t give up on this one too soon – it does an about face.  🙂

 God vs. Science

“Let me explain the problem science has with religion.”The atheist professor of philosophy pauses before his class and then asks one of his new students to stand.‘You’re a Christian, aren’t you, son?’

‘Yes sir,’ the student says.

‘So you believe in God?’

‘Absolutely ‘

‘Is God good?

‘Sure! God’s good.’

‘Is God all-powerful? Can God do anything?’


‘Are you good or evil?’
‘The Bible says I’m evil.’
The professor grins knowingly. ‘Aha! The Bible! He considers for a moment. ‘Here’s one for you. Let’s say there’s a sick person over here and you can cure him. You can do it. Would you help him? Would you try?’

‘Yes sir, I would.’
‘So you’re good…!’
‘I wouldn’t say that.’
‘But why not say that? You’d help a sick and maimed person if you could. Most of us would if we could. But God doesn’t.’
The student does not answer, so the professor continues. ‘He doesn’t, does he? My brother was a Christian who died of cancer, even though he prayed to Jesus to heal him. How is this Jesus good? Can you answer that one?’
The student remains silent. ‘No, you can’t, can you?’ the professor says. He takes a sip of water from a glass on his desk to give the student time to relax. ‘Let’s start again, young fella. Is God good?’
‘Er..yes,’ the student says.
‘Is Satan good?’
The student doesn’t hesitate on this one.. ‘No.’
‘Then where does Satan come from?’
The student falters. ‘From God’
‘That’s right. God made Satan, didn’t he? Tell me, son. Is there evil in this world?’
‘Yes, sir.’
‘Evil’s everywhere, isn’t it? And God did make everything, correct?’
‘So who created evil?’ The professor continued, ‘If God created everything,then God created evil, since evil exists, and according to the principle that our works define who we are, then God is evil.’
Again, the student has no answer. ‘Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things, do they exist in this world?’
The student squirms on his feet. ‘Yes.’
‘So who created them ?’
The student does not answer again, so the professor repeats his question. ‘Who created them?’ There is still no answer. Suddenly the lecturer breaks away to pace in front of the classroom. The class is mesmerized. ‘Tell me,’ he continues onto another student. ‘Do you believe in Jesus Christ, son?’
The student’s voice betrays him and cracks. ‘Yes, professor, I do.’
The old man stops pacing. ‘Science says you have five senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Have you ever seen Jesus?’
‘No sir. I’ve never seen Him.’
‘Then tell us if you’ve ever heard your Jesus?’
‘No, sir, I have not.’
‘Have you ever felt your Jesus, tasted your Jesus or smelt your Jesus? Have you ever had any sensory perception of Jesus Christ, or God for that matter?’
‘No, sir, I’m afraid I haven’t.’
‘Yet you still believe in him?’
‘According to the rules of empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, science says your God doesn’t exist… What do you say to that, son?’
‘Nothing,’ the student replies.. ‘I only have my faith.’
‘Yes, faith,’ the professor repeats. ‘And that is the problem science has with God. There is no evidence, only faith.’
The student stands quietly for a moment, before asking a question of His own. ‘Professor, is there such thing as heat? ‘
‘ Yes.
‘And is there such a thing as cold?’
‘Yes, son, there’s cold too.’
‘No sir, there isn’t.’
The professor turns to face the student, obviously interested. The room suddenly becomes very quiet. The student begins to explain. ‘You can have lots of heat, even more heat, super-heat, mega-heat, unlimited heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat, but we don’t have anything called ‘cold’. We can hit down to 458 degrees below zero, which is no heat, but we can’t go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold; otherwise we would be able to go colder than the lowest -458 degrees. Everybody or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (-458 F) is the total absence of heat. You see, sir, cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat we can measure in thermal units because heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it.’
Silence across the room. A pen drops somewhere in the classroom, sounding like a hammer.
‘What about darkness, professor. Is there such a thing as darkness?’
‘Yes,’ the professor replies without hesitation. ‘What is night if it isn’t darkness?’
‘You’re wrong again, sir. Darkness is not something; it is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light, but if you have no light constantly you have nothing and it’s called darkness, isn’t it? That’s the meaning we use to define the word. In reality, darkness isn’t. If it were, you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn’t you?’
The professor begins to smile at the student in front of him. This will be a good semester. ‘So what point are you making, young man?’
‘Yes, professor. My point is, your philosophical premise is flawed to start with, and so your conclusion must also be flawed.’
The professor’s face cannot hide his surprise this time. ‘Flawed? Can you explain how?’
‘You are working on the premise of duality,’ the student explains. ‘You argue that there is life and then there’s death; a good God and a bad God. You are viewing the concept of God as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, science can’t even explain a thought.’ ‘It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of life, just the absence of it.’ ‘Now tell me, professor. Do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?’
‘If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, young man, yes, of course I do.’
‘Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?’
The professor begins to shake his head, still smiling, as he realizes where the argument is going. A very good semester, indeed.
‘Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor, are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you now not a scientist, but a preacher?’
The class is in uproar. The student remains silent until the commotion has subsided. ‘To continue the point you were making earlier to the other student, let me give you an example of what I mean.’ The student looks around the room. ‘Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the professor’s brain?’ The class breaks out into laughter. ‘Is there anyone here who has ever heard the professor’s brain, felt the professor’s brain, touched or smelt the professor’s brain? No one appears to have done so… So, according to the established rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science says that you have no brain, with all due respect, sir.’ ‘So if science says you have no brain, how can we trust your lectures, sir?’
Now the room is silent. The professor just stares at the student, his face unreadable. Finally, after what seems an eternity, the old man answers. ‘I Guess you’ll have to take them on faith.’
‘Now, you accept that there is faith, and, in fact, faith exists with life,’ the student continues. ‘Now, sir, is there such a thing as evil?’ Now uncertain, the professor responds, ‘Of course, there is. We see it Everyday. It is in the daily example of man’s inhumanity to man. It is in The multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil.’
To this the student replied, ‘Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God’s love present in his heart. It’s like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light.’ 
The professor sat down.

If you read it all the way through and had a smile on your face when you finished, mail to your friends and family with the title ‘God vs. Science’
PS: The student was 
Albert Einstein.   Albert Einstein wrote a book titled ‘God vs. Science‘ in 1921…

And knowing that we are moving to Eureka CA in November, she sends this “joke”:


The Governor of California is jogging with his dog along a nature trail.

A coyote jumps out and attacks the Governor’s dog, then bites the Governor.

1.  The Governor starts to intervene, but reflects upon the movie “Bambi” and then realizes he should stop because the coyote is only doing what is natural.

2.  He calls animal control.  Animal Control captures the coyote and bills the State $200 testing it for diseases and $500 for relocating it.

3.  He calls a veterinarian.  The vet collects the dead dog and bills the State $200 testing it for diseases.

4.  The Governor goes to hospital and spends $3,500 getting checked for diseases from the coyote and on getting his bite wound bandaged.

5.  The running trail gets shut down for 6 months while Fish & Game conducts a $100,000 survey to make sure the area is now free of dangerous animals.

6.  The Governor spends $50,000 in state funds implementing a “coyote awareness program” for residents of the area.

7.  The State Legislature spends $2 million to study how to better treat rabies and how to permanently eradicate the disease throughout the world.

8.  The Governor’s security agent is fired for not stopping the attack.  The State spends $150,000 to hire and train a new agent with additional special training re: the nature of coyotes.

9. PETA protests the coyote’s relocation and files a $5 million suit against the State.


The Governor of Texas is jogging with his dog along a nature trail.  A Coyote jumps out and attacks his dog.

1. The Governor shoots the coyote with his State-issued pistol and keeps jogging.  The Governor has spent $0.50 on a .45 ACP hollow point cartridge.

2. The Buzzards eat the dead coyote.

And that, my friends, is why California is broke (NOT TRUE) and Texas is not. (BUT TAKING ALL OF THE FEDERAL MONEY IT CAN; PROBABLY THE MOST GRABBY OF ALL THE STATES)

Stupid Email that only shows racism and disrespect/hatred of Mr. Obama:

Subject: Let’s Move to Mexico

Dear President Obama:

I’m planning to move my family and extended family into Mexico for my health, and I would like to ask you to assist me.  We’re planning to simply walk across the border from the U.S. into Mexico , and we’ll need your help to make a few arrangements.  We plan to skip all the legal stuff like visas, passports, immigration quotas and laws.   I’m sure they handle those things the same way you do here. So, would you mind telling your buddy, President Pena Nieto, that I’m on my way over?
Please let him know that I will be expecting the following:

1. Free medical care for my entire family.
2. English-speaking government bureaucrats for all services I might need, whether I use them or not.
3. Please print all Mexican Government forms in English.
4. I want my grandkids to be taught Spanish by English-speaking (bi-lingual) teachers.
5. Tell their schools they need to include classes on American culture and history.
6. I want my grandkids to see the American flag on one of the flag poles at their school.
7. Please plan to feed my grandkids at school for both breakfast and lunch.
8. I will need a local Mexican driver’s license so I can get easy access to government services.
9. I do plan to get a car and drive in Mexico , but I don’t plan to purchase car insurance, and I probably won’t make any special effort to learn local traffic laws.
10. In case one of the Mexican police officers does not get the memo from their president to leave me alone, please be sure that every patrol car has at least one English-speaking officer.
11. I plan to fly the U.S. flag from my housetop, put U S. flag decals on my car, and have a gigantic celebration on July 4th. I do not want any complaints or negative comments from the locals.
12. I would also like to have a nice job without paying any taxes, or have any labor or tax laws enforced on any business I may start.
13. Please have the president tell all the Mexican people to be extremely nice and never say critical things about me or my family, or about the strain we might place on their economy.
14. I want to receive free food stamps.
15. Naturally, I’ll expect free rent subsidies.

16. I’ll need income tax credits so that although I don’t pay Mexican taxes, I’ll receive money from the government.
17. Please arrange it so that the Mexican Government pays $4,500.00 to help me buy a new car.
18. Oh yes, I almost forgot, please enroll me free into the Mexican Social Security program so that I’ll get a monthly income in retirement.
I know this is an easy request because you already do all these things for all his people who walk over to the U.S. from Mexico . I am sure that President Nieto won’t mind returning the favor if you ask him nicely.

Thank you so much for your kind help.  You’re the man!!!

And then her best, most offensive and disgusting email arrived.  SO many lies and half-truths, so much vitriol and hatred towards LGBT community….I could barely read the first part before I had to just send her another email, slightly less polite.

Brilliance in Three Parts

Part I

A. Back off and let those men who want to marry men, marry men.

B. Allow those women who want to marry women, marry women.

C. Allow those folks who want to abort their babies, abort their babies.

D. In three generations, there will be no Democrats.

I love it when a plan comes together!

Part II

10 Poorest Cities in America and how did it happen?

City, State, % of People Below the Poverty Level

1. Detroit , MI 32.5%

2. Buffalo , NY 29.9%

3. Cincinnati , OH 27.8%

4. Cleveland , OH 27.0%

5. Miami , FL 26.9%

5. St. Louis , MO 26.8%

7. El Paso , TX 26.4%

8. Milwaukee , WI 26.2%

9. Philadelphia , PA 25.1%

10. Newark , NJ 24.2%

What do the top ten cities (over 250,000) with the highest poverty rate all have in common?

Detroit , MI (1st on the poverty rate list) hasn’t elected a Republican mayor since 1961

Buffalo , NY (2nd) hasn’t elected one since 1954

Cincinnati , OH – (3rd) since 1984

Cleveland , OH – (4th) since 1989

Miami , FL – (5th) has never had a Republican mayor

St. Louis , MO – (6th) since 1949

El Paso , TX – (7th) has never had a Republican mayor

Milwaukee , WI – (8th) since 1908

Philadelphia , PA – (9th) since 1952

Newark , NJ – (10th) since 1907

Einstein once said, ‘The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.’

It is the poor who habitually elect Democrats . . . yet they are still POOR.


“You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.

You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.

You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.

You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down.

You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.

You cannot build character and courage by taking away people’s initiative and independence.

You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves.”

. . . . Abraham Lincoln

“I’ve tried to ask nicely.  Now I am telling you.  DO NOT SEND ME THIS KIND OF STUFF.    I have tried to point out to you that I do not hold the same political views and that I find this offensive–and having told you that, I find this not only offensive, but incredibly, thoughtlessly, purposefully offensive.  I consider sending me stuff like this the same as sending me the nastiest dirtiest porn you can find–and frankly, I’d prefer that.  

I lack the energy to deal with continual assaults on my beliefs–religious, political or otherwise, especially when those attacks consist of biased opinion, slanted evaluations and unthinking bigotry, fear, hate, xenophobia, and religious zealotry.  And I will stop reading emails that affect me this way.  Which means that I will stop reading YOUR emails if they contain that kind of material.  And if I can’t tell from the subject line and open them to find it, well then I will have to stop reading ALL of your emails.  

I really don’t want to have to do this, but as I said, I have tried asking nicely.

Send me emails that talk about what you and Dad are doing, what you made for dinner, who you had over for lunch.  Tell me about what’s going on in the neighborhood, your health…in fact, talk about ANYTHING but politics and religion. “

Called to let them know that Beloved was in hospital: Aug 4.  Got a dressing-down (chastisement) from my FATHER about how I had talked (written) to my MOTHER.  NOT A WORD ABOUT BELOVED: NO INQUIRIES ABOUT HIS HEALTH, HOW I WAS HOLDING UP, NOTHING.  Just an old fashioned “talking to”.

So on Aug 5 I sent this email to my mother:
Just letting you that Beloved is in surgery for an endoscopy and they are looking for both growths and lesions.Then it’s probably real surgery to remove the gall bladder because he also has a 3cm gallstone. 
I called and told Dad but getting a lecture about how I had spoken to you was both insensitive and not appropriate at that time. I am an adult now and frankly, I spoke to you as I would have to anyone who persisted in sending me the emails that you had. I am not a child to be reprimanded for not agreeing with you.  If this is a problem for you, then it is your problem not mine. So how much we communicate is up to you.
And right now, I am dealing with my husband being in the hospital and am having all my support being friends and HIS family. It’s up to you.  K  (And it’s now the 8th and I haven’t heard a word from her.)

I really could have gone my whole life not knowing that my parents were so wrapped up in their religious and political views that they have lost all emotional and sympathetic connections to other people.  I have said for years that my parents shouldn’t have had children, as they really don’t like them…but I did not understand that the dislike went this deep.  Coming on top of a week of my dearly Beloved being so ill was devastating.

I had a friend who might have been more than a friend but we never had the chance to find out because he died of stomach cancer 8 or 9 months after we met.  His last words to me were “I love you”.  Having worked in the medical field as a nurse’s aide for 5 years, “looking for growths” has a fuller, more dreadful meaning to me: looking for cancer is the true explanation.  I was terrified I’d come back to find Beloved diagnosed with that cancer and I’d lose him.

I did not need to deal with the psychology of parents who couldn’t even offer sympathy…on the other hand, it cuts that frayed cord just that much more.  I haven’t seen them in almost 4 years; we talk barely once a month.  We are polite strangers and the truth is now easier to face than it was and it really boils down to this: if you weren’t related to this person, would you tolerate their behavior?  (Answer: No, I would not.)

All that matters now is that my sweet Beloved is home, getting better and preparing for outpatient gall bladder removal.  He wants to mount the 3 cm gall stone (that really is the size of a golf ball, you know) and beneath the stone have a plaque that reads “That’s no space station, that’s a gall stone!”  And we’re still going to Eureka, especially now that my stupid LTD insurance has FINALLY kicked in…oh, guess we were wrong, we’ll reverse the decision and pay it out–and since Fibro is no longer a ‘self-diagnosed’ disease, that means a pay out of not just 2 years…but 5.  Suck that!

I have what truly matters: a man who loves me as much as I love him; friends and my chosen family that are concerned and have been so kind and eager to help this week; and 3 months to get ready to move.  Thanks to all for the good thoughts and positive, healing energy.  Let’s keep that up for his surgery.  And blessings to those who understand the whole blessing process.


UPDATE:  I am seriously going through the Kubler-Ross steps of grieving: Anger, depression, denial, bargaining and acceptance.  My parents, in their own way, have made this easier if I just go with the fact that they are old, and therefore, treat them as if they had died–and in their own way, they have died to me.

Makes it REAL easy to get rid of MORE things before moving, as I no longer have to acknowledge possession of this item or that and I feel no remorse or pain in getting rid of “heirloom” items.  Indeed, I will see just how much money I can get for them.  I do not need them any more to remind me of the fantasy I’ve been holding onto.  I don’t need to justify getting rid of family heirlooms, I don’t need to apologize for not keeping all of the various bits of stuff they have sent me.  My birth stone is peridot; I truly hate it.  Now I can get rid of every piece of jewelry that has it, that they gave me, without a qualm.  I will keep the things that mean something deep and personal to me: my grandmother’s amethyst ring, and HER mother’s amethyst ring.  The Goddess necklaces that my dear friends bought the parts and made just for me.  The diamond hugs and kisses tennis bracelet that my beloved husband put on my arm when we married.

Anyone want a peridot pendat?  A rather elaborate ruby ring?  I am keeping my great-grandmother’s quilt.  Just saying.  But there’s going to be a lot of other things that no longer have any indecision about keeping or getting rid of.  And I look forward to creating my own beloved family once we move to Eureka (I found it!) CA.

August 19:  Still not a word to be heard from my parents.  Beloved had his gall bladder removed, but pathology wouldn’t let him have the stone, so he has to live without it–and without the gall bladder either.  He tolerated the surgery well, but still has intractable vomiting and is not holding down much of anything.  Basically, he’s not eaten for almost a month now.  Every time he could get a saline IV going, it helped and he began to improve–and that was the orders from his surgeon.  Unfortunately, every time his surgeon’s associate GI doctor came on duty, he pulled the IV and Beloved regressed AGAIN.  Last Saturday (2 days ago), I came home to shower and get some clean clothes–having packed for what should have been an overnight stay and had been two weeks, I needed both–and my dearest Beloved called me and said, “Come and get me, they are putting me out.”  They waited until I had left the hospital (considering I had been at his bedside 24 x 7); then they gave him delaudid (making him heavily medicated and legally incapacitated, ie, not able to sign himself out of the hospital) and then told him he was being discharged.

I went and got him and brought him home.  In 24 hours, the only liquid he was able to hold down was about 6 ounces of local whole milk (pasteurized but NOT homogenized, as close to fresh out of the cow’s teat as a person can get around here!).  He did void over 1500cc of urine, which is good, sort of…and in 18 hours, slept about 14, which he desperately needed, having been awakened at least every 2 hours for the prior 3 weeks.  That’s called sleep deprivation and is a form of torture because you never reach REM stage of sleep–it’s really bad for you.  So almost a month later, several forms of what could be considered torture (lack of sleep, unnecessary procedures, lack of IV hydration for appropriate amounts of time), he’s just as sick, possibly sicker and still throwing up.

All the people at Fauquier hospital (And yes, I am naming names, because that’s where he was for all that time and that’s where all this bull shit went on–to the point where I can barely refrain from calling it the “FuckYouHere Hospital”–hereafter referred to as FYH Hospital) kept telling him that he needed to see a GI doctor.  They had two, whom he had seen–and they were soooooo fascinated by his lapband (a form of weight loss, Google it because I’m not going to try to explain it here)…and they both wanted to remove it, even though THEIR procedure of contrast imagery proved it was right were it belonged, in textbook location.  So “see a GI doctor” got changed ever so slightly to “see YOUR GI doctor” and a light went on in his head!  He had had a wonderful GI doctor, back when before having the lapband inserted, a doctor that he trusted and would be thrilled to return to his care.

EXCEPT…that meant going to Centreville to the doctor’s office, or (and this was the end result and more likely option anyways), going to Fair Oaks Hospital–both of which are farther and farther away from our house, harder to get to with a car that is ummmm about as sick as Beloved.  But anyway…Sunday evening, I called the doctor’s number, got the answering service with the name and number of the doctor who was covering for him.  Called THAT doctor; explained what was going on.  His immediate orders?  Go to the hospital and get on an IV!  And he told me that Beloved’s GI Doctor (who has a super hero name: Lance Lasner) would be in the office Monday morning.

I tried to find someone who could come to our door and take Beloved up to Manassas, to his parents house, so that they would then take him to the hospital.  No luck, so I ended up driving him up there…and feeling such guilt at not going with him–but I am so worn out, so exhausted from the past 3 weeks–I haven’t really slept more than a couple of hours at a go either…  I was worried about my driving that far, in the dark (which I have problems with anyways) and thank the gods, my husband is a most understanding man and did not hold it against me, and in fact, ordered me home to sleep, perchance to dream.

And then we found out this morning that our superhero doctor is on vacation through the end of this week.  Oops.  SOOOOO there’s another doctor covering for him and I contacted his office and spoke to his nurse/receptionist? and poured out the story to her.  She was so kind and so efficient.  “We will get the record from the other hospital and I will let Dr. Substitute know that he has a consultation at the hospital this morning.”

Needless to say, I have been in contact most of the day with Beloved.  (Mostly because I was smart enough to look for his phone when I came home to shower so he has it again.)  They have put him on an IV, cranked it open wide (drip rate is much higher than usual rate of flow) and are giving him IV meds where they can–to include Valium!  YAY! Get that pain level down, down, down.  The nurses and doctors at Fair Oaks have been expressing disbelief at the methods and actions of their ahem so-called colleagues at FYH Hospital and bluntly, I already have the name and contact information for a good malpractice lawyer.

Beloved is a little concerned that the doctors at Fair Oaks are also enthralled by the lapband and seem to want to take it out–but they do insist on running the (same) test to ensure that it is still in the place it’s supposed to be and not moved, since his vomiting has been…energetic.  So he’s supposed to have some sort of contrast imagery done this evening.  They have already begun the paperwork to see how much money Medicaid can throw at this–instead of throwing forms at us and leaving, as they did in the other hospital.  And they aren’t treating him differently because he doesn’t have money, which it seems like that particular issue DID make a difference at FYH Hospital.

And somewhere in all of that medical stuff, my Beloved managed to arrange for our friend, Little Miss (LM) to come over here tonight, stay the night and then drive me up to Fair Oaks tomorrow.  I can take all of his meds (which hopefully, he’ll be able to take by mouth and keep down then).  Since she’s off of work, it’s not costing her anything but time–and I will more than happy to fill the gas tank and feed her.  I will also be glad to see her.  I am weepy and angry and find myself talking out loud to myself–in a lovely British accent, I might add.  I also have lost 5 more pounds in the past 3 weeks.  It’s a great diet, other than the side effects of having your most Beloved love in the hospital and no one can figure out why.  I can only imagine how much weight he’s lost.

I am terrified that he’s going to die, that this will kill him before they can figure out what the hell is going on.  He insists that he will not die, that he’s too stubborn and not that sick…  I can only hope that he is right and that I am completely wrong because I don’t want to be right, not at all.  My feelings of terror and hopelessness are lessened by the growing assurance that he is finally in the right place, with the right medical people around him–and if nothing else, our superhero GI doctor will be back next week.  We can certainly hold on that long!  And Beloved would tell you that no one knows his gut like Dr. L!

So that’s where things stand now.  I could keep writing, but it begins to repeat and just be all morose and stuff, so I’ll stop here and hope, hope, hope that my next update will be a happy one!  Blessings and Namaste until then!