All posts by paneintale

An opinionated, old guy who should always have a fast horse and one foot in the stirrup.

Never again: VOTE OUT TRUMP-HATE!

Left WW2 Wehrmacht Einsatzgruppe Soldier executes Russian parent and child because they were Jews and Hitler hated Jews. Right: memorial at Buchenwald Extermination camp.

Hate was HItler’s theme. Hate has been a theme in the US as our political scene has become tribal and our government as a constitutional republic attacked, subverted, hobbled by its own President.

The left picture is absolutely necessary to remind us where hate will lead us. Every time, everywhere. And to remind us that our past is no defense against the wiles, dodges, deceptions, gaslighting, threats and relentless lying of despots. Lincoln at Gettysburg said that we are a new nation, dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. But he could not guarantee that it would endure: only that it then would not perish. Including Lincoln’s time we have had 244 years of learning how to live as a Republic based on democratic principles.

Most Republics have not been around more than half that time. The original democracy in Athens lasted only 20 years, but we are its heir. Our Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, Washington’s mold for how to be a President, the Gettysburg address and more: are not just American documents. They have been world shaping guides. Children in classrooms all over the world learn and know the Gettysburg Address. We are still talkling about achieving the conditions FDR hoped we could leave humanity on his fourth inaugural address. What we have made is not just ours, it belongs to all humanity. And we are not done yet in working to achieve what even the Declaration calls for: equality. It is our duty to carry it forward. We have work to do.

And yet, considering what shabby treatment that history has received at the hands of Donald J Trump, it feels like we are trying to throw it all away. We have let a bully sully our heritage.. His malfeasance has brought us:

  • involuntary incarceration of children because a leader without empathy hates certain foreign nationals
  • treating opposition as the enemy and Democrats as second class citizens
  • direct executive attacks on the FBI to weaken its investigative ability
  • the attempt to have a foreign power act in subversion of US elections
  • the negligent homicide by the President of 150,000 citizens from CoVid19 because he failed to act to help contain the diseasr
  • election campaigns, especially Trumpublican’s, effectively bought and channeled by the American Untouchable Rich
  • collusion in Trumps crimes by all but one Republican US Senators in falsely acquitting Donald J Trump from a list of outright crimes, let alone HIgh Crimes and Misdemeanors and thus creating the constitutional crisis we now face as the day of election draws near
  • the use of agitators sent into American cities experiencing public protests to foment violence from protest in an attempt to discredit opposition protest speech
  • gross and irremediable incompetence in executing the Office of President
  • conspiring against fair elections in the US in the refusal by the President to take action against Russian digital meddling in US elections because he is in debt to Putin.
  • Donald J Trump, whom the people did not elect, made President by an Electoral College which no longer exists to rectify dangerous elections but to keep past power groups, such as agricultural rural conservatives, in power over the majority of Americans
  • Economic meltdown
  • The President ignoring the Constitution because he thinks he alone knows best
  • A President, like Hitler, delusional in his belief in his own powers
  • Vacuum in leadership. Drift and danger. No actionable plan for getting beyond the ravages of Corona and CoVId19 once the Pandemic has been checked and reduced–actrually no plan whatsoever for governance in any way except for actions that make Donald J feel good.

Don’t kid yourself. That list above is how dictatorship begins, IF we fail to use the one tool which can nip its growth in the bud: the vote! The election will not suddenly erase the untended economic, social, psychological, cultural, educational failings that permitted Trumps malignancy in the Presidency. But it alone can give us a chance to begin to correct our errors and shortcomings. VOTE! It is time to take our heritage back and rid ourselves of Trump and his Tripe. Your vote may save this nation.

LETS NOT FIND OURSELVES LIKE THIS WOMAN IN GERMANY IN 1945: REMORSEFUL, BUT TOO LATE.

VOTE!

bird shot

drab day and woodpecker silhouette about all I couild shoot

I have made the decision to stay away from even possible sources of CoVid transmission on the advice of my good doctor.

He is right. Lifelong respiratory vulnerability is an open invitation for an infection. And being superannuated reduces the strength of the immune fresponse: a second reason to keep away. So I do it.

It is the right thing to do. If I get it, ipso facto I will have exposed others. Maybe even people I know and care for, although most of them are also my age or somewhat younger and staying put at home. But the nobility of it all has faded into….silence filled with the noise of troublesome thoughts and frustrations.

When we lived on the ridge on the side of the mountain in South Asheville, I could deal with cabin fever just by going outside. And if that didn’t work, I could watch Bruno and Zora and then after they died, Kaiser and Titan play.

(First row, third picture: me with Bruno and Zora at the Biltmore Estate. I would exercise them off lead==they were very obedient–and in the cooler weather, I wore a blue baseball cap with a German Shepherd insignia on it, a blue jacket with a Michigan patch on the front, khaki pants, and leather boots. People would gather to see the dogs do their routines and then ask us for directions. They though I was Security…. Second row, first two pictures TItan chasing or hovering, Kaiser leading Titan in chase or lolllygagging on the ground for more play–Titan really never got the lolllygagging.)

People places and things to visit and see — lots in the course of my life’s wandering journey. Lots of gratitude.

Bottom line, however, has been lifelong: antsy, bored, restless? Get out the camera and see what you can shoot and do better than the last time. that has led to Photos libraries of so many digital shots I’m embarrassed to name the number. The point is: taking pictures is, has been and always will be me.

The trouble is, off the mountain, in .8 acres rather than 6, in really unimaginative house a bit less than half the size of the mountain house, (it was all we couid get) is very practical for us and Roxy and Lutz, but quite sleep-inducing .

Rosy and Lutz: are partners but not much for playing together. Still each can havea big day and then they nap together.

Just less to see and do. Life on its terms: accept it and adapt.

OK. Maybe I can get some shots of that woodpecker who hammers away out in the trees around us.

I’ve been trying since April of 2017 — he or she makes a large racket but no image! It got to the place where I was sure, absolutely certain, that he knew I was down there with a camera and bigtime zoom lens. And just to spite me, he would always peck his tree caves on the other side of the tree from me.

Until two weeks ago, that is. It seems his arrogant self confidence got the better of him and he came out, onto the top of a couple trees on the neighbor’s lot, maybe 100 yards from me as the crow flies. And he came out into silhouette, perched on the top of one of those trees and even somewhat with his back to me. As if he were saying, come on, here I am, just see if you can get a good shot of me. I am, after all, very much worth it.

The shot at the top of the page is the result, the sad result. It was (yet another) foggy, soggy, misty greysky day. So my results, even with a good deal of photoshopping in Photos, did not get any better than this:

this was my first clue that I had here the very elusive, large and interesting pileated woodpecker, a male one. Note the red cap — clue #1 one, and the somewhat rectangular holes–clue #2: only the pileated ones make holes that shape. And this one is slim, not plump: a male.

I was happy I got that shot and that it could be improved so much — that one came from an almost black and white silhouette. I had a bit of my passion back, but it is addictive: I wanted something better, more interesting, more colorful, more revealing of this boy’s character.

In the meantime, I began to realize that if I want interesting bird shots from .8 acres and little flexibililty about shooting position, I’d have to find ways to make them come to me. And I have some ideas.

Two weeks later I was taking it easy (from what?) in the am with mly absolutely necessary cup of Aldi Coffee Store, when N out on the front porch called out, “he’s back”. I dashed out in bath robe and iPhone… and jhere he was. It was a clear, dry, blue sky and The Boy was showing off from the top of that same tree. His royal Aves Highness had bestowed his presence upon us once more!

It was a big risk, but I dashed back into the house to get the Canon with the Zoom Lens. To my utter surprise, he was still there, surveying his kingdom from his highwire throne:

Still just at the edge of my lens’ focus ability and a bit less sharp than I’d hoped, but I’ll take it.

When your photo quarry won’t move and it just a ibit too far away and you have very little position flex, then there are only so many pictures I at least can conjure up. So I wound up just watching, feeling a bit dissatisfied that I could not get any other more interesting shots,

And then he took off, hell bent for leather iln the air, headed to his next pecking place.

My lens is a sports lens basically. It is made for action shots and the Canon has a program for that. And I was using it for shots because it is not as persnickety about light as some other settings. So I aimed the camera by dead reckoning, line of sight guesstimate at where I thought he might be as he rocketed out of sight. But I expected not to have caught him at all, the odds were against me.

Oh well.

Later in the morning I was down here on the iMac, downloading the pix from the am into Photos. Boo. Nothing but blue sky and green leaves with lots of shadow.

But wait a minute. In those two shots there, the two before him against the blue sky came out with him as a blur in the heavens–what is that dark shadow? Lets try some adjustments in Photo…

Wow. How grateful for having lucked out and gotten those two shots. They made my day. He is beautiful. And beauty is so utterly consoling. Mr Canon: what a good job! the Gods were with us. Still just a tad indistinct but again, I’ll take it.

Now that’s the sort of bird shot I like. Maybe I have been looking to shoot the birds in all the wrong places. Mr Pileated Woodpecker is telling me that the richness of nature does not end just because my yard is smaller. Keep on doing your ‘tog stuff, Mr G!.

Not with a Whimper but a Boom? Neither?

As a boy growing up during WW2, I was taught that the US Army was intended to be used only against foreign enemies. Another loss toe grieve, another nail in Trumps self-images coffin.

Trump decries the outbreaks of violence as unacceptable to our way of life, itself. How would he know what our way of life is? He has always lived in his own delusions. Even more than that, however, if the street violence is not tolerable, why would governmental military violence be any less so? Of course that presumes that logic might enter The Donalds fried brain.

No question: why would the people who are being killed in droves by CoVid19, who are locked in teeming, fetid ghettoes, who cannot afford to have Obamacare rescinded, who are treated everyday in every way as pariahs in their own land — why would they not be setting fires to urban America? After a while, frustration and deprivation transform desperation into destruction. And that is what has happened here. And shooting at them will just make the fires burn hotter and swell the ranks of the rioters.

Of course this is just what DT has been looking for: some excuse to use force to suspend our quasi-democratic ways, to blame his enemies for his crimes and failures, and to put the power of terror into his little hands. Anyone who doubts that, has not been observing him well.

Did this just boil up by itself? Local people have said it was not the radical left who incited to riot in their communities, it was the radical right. Note that governors do NOT want this, refuse to accept using the National Guard, oppose the breach of 244 years of tradition in using the US Army against its own citizens.

Note also that DT named only one radical political group and it was not one of the right wing groups who have come in from the woods with their guns,; masks, and bombs. Must one not wonder, whether, Reichstag-fire-like or war-on-Poland-like, whether the right wing groups might not have been quietly invited to kick off events? Who knows? I sure do not.

But one has to wonder: is this a right wing catalyst event? Stranger things have been known to happen.

The question now drifts in the air, everywhere and in every way: Will it now end with a boom rather than a whimper?

The living in the USA question for me is: will the fuse burn fast and ignitre the growing pile of social, economic and political high explosives before the election or will the threat of that finally bring the democratic processes, the few remaining, to their final halt before we even vote?

The personal question is: how to extricate myself from the mania and be able to offer more than more fuel for Donalds Fires. Increasingly, I think the unthinkable and then as often as I can remember it, drop out of the maelstrom and work hard to find Eckart Tolles Presence. Experience shows me that it will be spiritual practices which resolve and heal all the damage that DT has done and will do. Not religious, spiritual. We need have neither the bang or the whimper, but we need to get at it.

Omen? Chance?

Yesterday as I was walking up our driveway after yet another day of rain, my eye caught several of these leaves lying on the still damp asphalt.

Where did the orange come from? Why had it not faded like the rest of the leaf? It caught my interest.

Such fine structure just below the surface. Delicate leaf veins. What would the newly possible increase in environmental poisons do to that delicate life? .. to the orange?

What else has an unusual orange swath — Donald does. He has turned his negating touch to nature, banished eco-protective regulations. Might he too be blown away by some storm? Omen? Pure coincidence— in a universe in which nothing happens by accident?

Had I been caught yesterday in DTS mania for always being the focus of conversation, I would have missed this reminder that all beauty happens in the present. I am grateful for the orange decorated leaf.

Time to learn some german

The United States now has 1/3 of all the corona virus infections on this earth. The United States now has 1/4 of all the deaths from The Virus on earth.

The number of infections and the number of deaths is INCREASING≥. Some perspective: a few days ago,. Germany: 855 new cases ,0 deaths.

And yet Angela Merkel stopped and postponed going to their second phase of relaxing socializing restrictions until mid June due to concern over increases.

While in the USA despite well communicated, increasing infection rates and death rates much higher than any other nation on earth, some states are relaxing restrictions. Ahhh yes: the South’s R-naught will rise again! And some unbelievably carried weapons, Nazi and Confederacy flags into the Michigan state house to protest for restoration of such basic rights as…. getting a hair-do. What an example of ….. self seeking gone lethal.

According to information which came my way some years ago from a source at the German Embassy in D. C., we spend the same amount per person for health care as Germany. We do it out of pocket, they by taxes. They have even coverage, we have hole-y pre-existing exclusions. They had systems and supplies ready to deal with such a contingency. We did also, until Trump and bad boy Jared Kushner actually threw away all the notebooks compiled to help them govern. Then Trump plus Moscow Mitch and his gang of paid off puppets gave the body pandemic the Genickschuss (coup de grace) when they took away funding. We pay as we go if we can, and if the help we need happens to be there. They just go. By and large, whatever they need, is already there.

Who, given reasonably prudent discernment, would not want the German ones: one of the the worlds best death rates, guaranteed top notch and immediate healtlh care, payments to replace Corona-lost income, a Chancellor who works in planful collaboration with her own staff; and with the Minister Presidents of ALL the German states?

Here: Missing Picture of any Federal Trump-er Meeting with Governors to Coordinate Federal and State Efforts

Die Zeit today published an article about why the Germans have been so effective in dealing with the Corona virus.

Der Föderalismus wirkt Federalism Works

Deutschland meistert die Corona-Krise besser als viele Nachbarstaaten. Das zeigt sich nicht nur im Gesundheitswesen. Vor allem der deutsche Föderalismus hat sich bewährt.

Germany is mastering the Corona Crises better than many neighboring states. That is apparent not only in the healtlcare system. Above all German Federalism has stood the test.

A concluding statement his the nail on the head: Der Föderalismus, richtig verstanden und betrieben, wirkt. Er sorgt auch für ein besseres Verständnis von Maßnahmen, die sich an der regionalen Situation orientieren und deshalb nicht als unverhältnismäßig empfunden werden.

Federalism, correctly understood and practiced, works. It ensures a better understanding of measures, which are oriented to regional situations and therefore are not felt to be disproportionate.

that is 100% correct and that is also exactly what is happenig here that is sandbagging any countrry wide effort to get ahead of the epidemic. Each region feels that is has to protect its own regional situation since whatever Trump does or most likelly does not do, is a one size fits all, excelpt of course that it does not. Just ask the people in South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi and the armed protestors in the Michigan State House.

but Zeit again explains it all better:

In Staaten wo Föderalismus weniger kooperativ interpretiert wird und man stattdessen mehr auf den Wettbewerb setzt, ist das anders. Im amerikanischen Föderalismus werden Informationen getrennt voneinander gesammelt – also Bundes- und einzelstaatliche Behörden erheben eigene Daten und handeln unabhängig voneinander. Die USA gleichen damit mehr der Europäischen Union, die kaum geeint auf die Corona-Krise reagiert und wo vielmehr die Mitgliedstaaten autonom entscheiden. Beide, die EU und die USA, tun sich schwer damit, eine Antwort auf das Virus zu finden.

In states where federalism is interpreted less cooperatively and instead is based on competition, the situation is different [re the good results the Germans have gotten]. In American federalism information is gathered in a divided manner–thus federal and state agencies gather their own datra and act independently of each other. The USA in that regard is like the EU which has reacted to the Corona Crisis scarcely in a united way and where the member states make decisions autonomously. Both, the EU and the USA, are struggling to find an answer to the virus.

The key here is that federalism works by cooperation. 244 years down the road we have yet to learn that. How else explain that 1/3 of the voters laud Trumps vile, and dangerously evil but not too skilled attempt to destroy it? How else explain that these same voters apparently think that more competition, win-lose competing, will carry the day and save the moribund, ragged health care patchwork quilt and the staggering, top heavy economy?

Whether German or other, there are systems in this pandemic which work better than ours. Indeed any of the others is working better sincew ours is working worst, by any measure. Our Federalism not only is not working, it is being used to make the crisis far, far worse than we may even be able to imagine. Trump and his supporters could easily do themselves and then us in.

What to do, how to build a working federalism?

First, isolate the disease spreaders. Let Trumps lethally undiscerning, self seeking supporters all get together, hug, shake hands, work shoulder to shoulder —for a couple of months, then send the survivors to Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina — and any other states who are dropping social distancing and lockdown while the Rnaught continues to rise. Turn back, with all force needed, any one of them trying then to leave those assiduously stupid states, when their R naught erupts volcanically while ours continues to fall at the same slow rate with which it rose. Those people misusing our federal system are endangering our lives every bit as much as if they were pointing loaded guns at us. that is a crime, so why not this?

It is high time that we exacted a penalty upon those who would endanger their own and us just to go to a restaurant or get a haircut. And the penalty should be as onerous as the illness which they pass on to others.

Let them all stew together in their own juice..

In the meantime, the rest of us will need to do a moral inventory. The key to cooperation is our thinking. We need to examine: why do we think that our competitive ways work when in one of the worst surprises Mother Nature could foist upon us it has failed so utterly miserably and dangerously for all of us? And then we will need to rethink how we understand and practice federalism–one might say that our current methods have not exactly been stellar..

Maybe it is time to cast off the erroneous German cultural stereotypes of Hogans Heroes and the WW2 War Department and learn something from our allies, the Germans. Who looks more like Colonel Klink: Angela Merkel or any Trump-er? How about Trump’s Arch Fool, Jared Kushner? Todays Germans would say to us: Wenn dein Pferd stirbt, steig’ ab: when your horse dies, dismount. Looks more than a little like we have been beating a dead horse. Time to dismount and try out some German ways. Nicht wahr? (Wouldn’t you say that’s true?)

THe lone (Old) plowguy rides again

Brace for the Race

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 Heavens, how we miss our home. We put our backs and our souls into it — it looking so confidently and, for us, welcomingly down the ridge, oveer the edge and out into the cove far belowl What a treasure it gave us in living the  Blue Ridge mountain life.

HOME -a color shot in winter

Today, we are in a small home that is functional and right sized for us and Roxy and Lutz, our two German Shepherds (#s 6 and p7 since 2001 when Bruno came to us). This house fits our ages, but our hearts ache for the beauty, adventure, peaceful coexistence with nature — of almost 20 years.  It was and will always be home for both of us.

A wonder and also a fright at times was winter on the Ridge. It drew out of us special efforts, at times more courage than we really wanted to summon up, and for me, advengture in service. And that is because winter brought me, The Old Plowguy, outdoors on this:

Me on my Yamaha 660 Grizzly ATV with 5’ steel snow plow blade

For most of my years there, the Grizzly and I plowed the snow off our 1.6 miles of asphalt and gravel. Sometimes I did another stretch of about ½ mile (guess) on a second stretch of rough gravel road.

Plowing uphill just below our drive. Road was 12 feet wide–mostly. Here: most dangerous stretch, called Ski Slope, outside edge hard to find under snow. So you plow from the middle ot.

Over the years, the exhaustion of several hours muscling around 800 pounds of Grizzly and blade wore thin. Sometimes it was admittedlly dangerous. I plowed when the first snow fell at temperatures just above freezing, in order minimize the inevitable re-freeze ice pack forming under the second fall. If you were out and about on that day, you had to be back coming up the mountain by 3 PM. Otherwise, you would be trying to drive on an uphill icerink under slippery snow.

Meanwhile, I would be out there dodging those who thought that they could handle uphill icerinks in rear axle drive cars. Their cars would be found either stuck in the inside ditch, off on a turnout patch, or just abandoned all the way down by the mailboxes. I gave lots of folks an interesting ride going up the icerink on the atv. Griz never needed chains, but my passengers did not know that. I think they found the ride invigorating at least.

I found it tiring. The atv with blade is front heavy and in total weighed about 800 pounds. That means that the atv could easily become dangerous with the blade down, under power that is just a teen big too fast and without that sense for what the snow would permit that only experience could impart . Too much gas, too much speed, not having figured out where to dump the plowed load safely and all of a sudden the atv becomes a pendulum attached to the pinned down blade. That is 600+ lbs swinging across an icy road that is max 12 feet wide. And swinging towards a sheer drop of lots of vertical feet. You could easily wind up down that slope and have the atv come down on top of you.

It was hard work that took skill and experience. I would come home soaked through the underclothes and into the snowmobile suit I wore. And at temperatures sometimes near zero. Then the next day out I would go again to plow it all over again, but this time pushing a good depth of snow off of the thin ice underneath.

Somegtimes the first of the double snowfalls would start at dusk. So, avoiding the accumulation of two snowfalls occasionally meant nighttime plowing with no lights except the two and (later on) an led light bar on the front of the Grizzly.

NIghttine plowing, at the bottom about to plow another lane a mile, all uphill

That was what led me , Griz’s to our nighttime near catastrophic, amazing victory over mountain and weather.

To roll the tape back a bit first: The Grizzly was a wonderful machine. I got it out of self defense and used it with great pride and joy, When we first moved up on that ridge, there were no neighbors at all anywhere near at all. You have to understand: we moved from New Jersey where one neighbor’s house was almost close enough to touch, the other housed a guy who thought it really cool to run the truck engine he was building — right: building — outdoors at 7AM . Two houses away was the fire station, where rhe guys thought is just hunky-dory to sound the alarm at 3 am fire or not. And then there was the collection of unwanted large items. If you wanted to lose something, you just put it on the curb in front of your house and the five finger discount folks came by at night while you were either asleep or distracted by the fire siren and took it. There was no such thing as no neighbors nowhere to be seen or heard where we had lived in Joisey.

It all changed so fast. One day we were sleeping our last night in a Civil War house in Joisey: —one we liked despite all the intrusion of our all too up close and personal neighborhood. Two nights and some hundreds of miles later, we were trying to sleep in our new house up on the ridge at about 3000 feet. No friends, no dogs in the house, no way out in bad weather and lots of hints of Unseen Things in the woods just outside our windows.

OK, so we were no heroes. It was an adventure but also scary at times, occasionally ridiculously so. LIke seeing at night the two red eyes peering into our solarium from outside and not going away no matter what we did. We knew what the dangers in Joisey were, but here, in the woods, at night, there could be Things Unknown. And for nights on end we sat up scared stiff at the two red eyes staring, staring, boring in on use from the woods maybe 15 feet from our bedroom on the main floor..

We finally threw in the towel and moved the bedroom to upstairs. But there they were, thjose two red eyes had followed us and knew where we were higding out. What if now it could get in while we were upstairs asleep? That may have been when I cast off my Northeastern liberal refusal to have weapons in the house and bought a 12 gauge shotgun with buckshot at WalMart. And for what? It turned out that the red eyes were lights from the breaking glass sound detector we had ADT install on moving in. They were reflecting off the inside of the solarium windows which we could see from the main floor or upstairs.

After all, in Joisey, They could be coming to break in. Right? When we told the off duty Sheriff Deputy, who checked on our house after closing but before we moved in, that we had an alarm system installed (No Deutsche Schaeferhund dogs yet at that time), I thought he would have a heart attack laughing. And over time it was very clear: where we were and with the steep, narrow old logging road we had, having al alarm system was as useful an addition as a life saver vest would be for a fish.

There’s a lot more stories where that came from, but I digress – -which by the way I do very well. Back onto the trail here.

Ol’ Griz Saves Ol’ Greg

We moved into our house in December. Not too long after that, In our very first Blue Ridge winter, we had our first Blue Ridge snow and sleet storm. It started later in the afternoon and kept on coming and coming. We could see it filiing up the abojut 450 feet of our drive, from the windows of the library room over the garage.

Now you need to understand: I grew up in Michigan. Snow? So what! Walk miles back and forth to school in blizzards, deliver a Detroit newspaper from a one speed Roadmaster bike in the wintertime dark, in ice storms, in snow storms: the paperboy always delivered. And it was an article of growing manliness that you delivered never dismounting, never missing a porch throwing the rolled up papers. And I shoveled out our home drive and walks. So: I could shovel with the best of them, I had my monster snow thrower which I”d brought from NJ, I had the right gloves and winter clothes. Ice, sleet, freezing rain, fog on ice, snow? No problem, you can take the boy out of Michigan, but you cannot take the Michigan out of the boy. Yep, I know snow, can handle snow.

Except that in MIchigan the boy knew snow that was much more on relatively level land, the boy relied for any help on the neighbors all over the place. I was not used to dealing with snow on ice on slopes so steep that even some pro-plowers would not come up to help us out. And God, being the ever aware instructor that He She They is/are, made sure I got the right tools for mountains, a powerful awd atv with locking differential, and then learned fast how to use it. By the time we moved, I modeestly say with full confidence, I knew it all about atvs on snow. The boy had added to his snow management repertoire..

The library windows over the garage, from which we could watch ice and snow accumulate where we had to drive.
Driveway at the top.
half a mile up, where the road is narrower and rougher, you park down at the end of your drive near my plowed lane, if you wanted to get down and join the traffic you can hear 1000+ feet below.

As I watched the ice-sleet-snow stuff cascade down onto our very long gravel drive, that knot of fear began to tie up my guts. The slush was piling up on the drive and would turn to ice overnight. And I had no way to remove it: my showthrower brought from New Jersey was very heavy, unwieldy on slopes, and would have simply slid down the drive and over the edge just across from the apron of our drive several hundred feet down a sharp incline. And no way could I have shoveled any of it away.

This was apparently God’s first immersion course lesson in mountain life. As a friend once said, if you just can’t live any more with a chainsaw in one hand and your atv keys in the other, it’s time to move off the mountain. I was just learning that you had to do that.

Next morning our drive had 3 inches of ice on it. Three inches of frozen slush,– that much, I’d never seen before. How on earth were we going to be able to get out? Our supplies would soon dwindle away and, Oh my Gawd, WE WILL STARVE UP HERE AND NOBODY WILL KNOW IT !

I wish I could find pictures I am almost certain I had taken. Living up there brought endless and unexpected just great photo ops: that camera had very quickly almost attached itself to me as a new appendage. Which was just fine by me and has bought me wonders of gratitude now.

Long story short, across the cove, which was several thousand yards away from us, mostly nearly straight down from the outside edge of the road at the bottom of our very long gravel drive, Bob B who was building a log house a stretch up the mountain from us. Bob had an atv with a plow. I had heard him buzzing alonmg down on the road. He had established himself as The Lone Plowguy for our scattered, “gently sloping” (real estate-ese for steep inclines) community.

So, holding onto trees and frozen tall vegetation, I’d managed to get down to the road without falling. After waiting for a long time and freezing my you-know-what off, I saw him and hailed him for help. He’d been plowing a bit where the ice was not that thick but his atv would not handle that drive. Someone had in the meanitme hired a guy on a backhoe with a blade to scrape uphill…. After ;more frozen waiting, we got in touch with him when he came up our way and asked for his help plowing me out. He said no. He could not plow that but with the forks on the backhoe bucket,he could rip up the drive to let the chunks then melt over time. So he ripped up the drive surface in to large ice chunks and the pushed them over the side.

No charge. Mountain folks, real mountain folks, help each other –they are a very cooperative clan of highly individual, skilled, economical and just wonderfully friendly folks. All they ask is that you be willing to listen for a half hour after you greet them with Hey Billy, how’r yew? I came to value that immensely.

No charge that is except for paying another guy a lot to come up and regrade the whole drive.

So right then and there I decided, I was going to have an atv at least as powerful as Bobs, and then split up the road for plowing with him. I got the atv all right, — actually more powerful than Bob’s, but Bob would not share plow duty. He wanted the Lone Plowguy role for himself. He moved away however very shortly and that’s how I and the Grizzly became The Lone Plowguy. And came to feel just like he did about sharing the plowing on My Mountain Road.

The big test for the Plowguy and his old pal, Griz, came one evening some years later, in a two stage snow+ice+sleet storm. The weather guys had reported the Lone Plowguys Nightmare: wet semi freezing heavy snow with sleet and some ice coming down in buckets, starting at about 5 pm and going till about 9. And then starting up again in the morning with colder air and snow, a number of inches.

If that froze at night and then got covered in the morning with newfallen snow, we were cooked. Under that white blanket would be an icerink on a narrow, downhill slope. Not even chains would get you down. And we had had our fill of Florida residents who thought, no problem, I’ll just stoke up the Sequoia, hop in with my coffee traveler, and lope on down to the road which I know will be clear. Snow and ice? No problem, we will “adjust” –was how they put it the first time they tried it.

It did not happen twice unless they were unusually stubborn and had had their brains fried by too much sun and too many Pina Coladas,.

I had gotten real tired of getting either a cell call or having some snow covered Floridian knock on my door, after having trudged up the Ski Slope and up our drive, in deep snow, to ask me to stoke up mmy Sequoia or the griz and help him get his Sequoia out of the ditch halfway down thje ski slope. Because they had no idea at all how to shift the Sequoia into all wheel drive that could back that SUV backwards up a greased telephone pole. And ofcourse always blocking the road. Always before I’d had a chance to plow it despite my frantic pleas to wait till I let them know the road was plowed (also because packed tire tracks are hard to plow up without ripping up the road itself).. And always seemingly at some inconvenieent hour.t.

So at 4 PM I began donning the long johns, the insulated undershirt, the snowmobile suit, the cloth inside helmet head cover, the snowmobile gloves, the yellow goggles for evening, and the tall insulated rubberized boots that kept the feet from freezing sitting on the metal runners of Griz. It was a lot of work, and then I trudged out of the house, across the yard in deep snow, and down the flagstone path in deep snow to the unheated shed where Griz awaited –sweating like a dray horse on a hot day even before putting the key into the Grizzlys off and on switch..

You checked Griz all over: were the bolts on the plow tight? the contacts on the electric motor that pivoted the plow snug and still waterproofed? How about the winch rope that attached the 3,000 pound lift weight rated winch to the hundred pound steel 5 foot snow blade? Was the tank full and did I have extra gas, a shovel, some gravel, a rope with clamps, an engineeers hammer and steel spikes, a winch rope repair kit, my coffee traveler, and an extra set of keys? Was the bluetooth headset inside my helmet working to call Nancy if I slid into the ditch? If I slid over the edge, I woild not have to worry to call because 800 pounds of atv wouild tumble onto me as we fell and, well, you can guess the rest.

It always took Griz a long time to start. The shed was not heated and Griz’ oil was often like molasses in January. It seemed that he always decided to start just when I was about to kick him and give up. I think the profanily gave that extra needed spark.

Well all of the above transpired on that fateful evening. I have to admit, I’d never before plowed the whole road in the dark with snow and sleet falling. Nonetheless, I got down our drive and just plowed a lane through the near freezing slush, down the ski slope part of the road down to R’s house, cleared the left hand turn so that it would be less to push coming back up, and , went down that slope to tke hairpin turnaround, and from there, now on asphalt. down the hill — plowing all the way, with occasional turns to the left to push the snowmound I had accumulated in front over the drop off. I once calculated that Griz and I moved of tons of snow in a typical plowing episode.

I pushed loads of wet snow carefully over and down the outside road edge, often very near 90 degree straight down to the cove. Yes, cautiously, to be sure, but also confidently as I had done it all so often before. The lights on the atv to my infinite relief really lit up the road well.

I went down to the mailboxes –turnd around and stopped to take the dusk picture of the single lane you saw abo ve.

And then started pushing the heavy load in short bursts uphill and again off to the side. Griz was lifting, pivoting and lowering that blade like a champ..

At the top of the rise coming up from the mail boxes, on the left, was a friend’s house, He had a very steep and angled drive which was hard to shovel off by hand. He’d also had abdominal surgery and I knew that he would not be able to cleaf that off at all. He and his wife were also German Shepherd dog people — as were we, they also were owned by a couple of those great dogs. So I thought, what the hell, I’ll just take a moment and scrape it off for him.

At the top of his drive, where I’d first gone to get a bit of gravity help to plow down the sides, I raised my blade to back up and there was a loud WHACK noise and the blade slammed down hard onto the asphalt.

At first, belileve it or not, I was embarrassed and hoped that nobody would come out and ask, what’s wrong? I had no idea. The Lone Plowguy is, by definition, always in charge, always prepared, always cool calm and collected. That must have been another Lone Plowguy. The only thoughts in my mind were: what the hell just happened and how can I finesse this in front of my admiring crowds (none of which were out there of course)?

A quick inspection showed that the winch rope had snapped,and backlashed its frayed, wound cold steel lines into a Gordian knot inside the winch housing.. Now why peojple call that wound steel cable a rope I will never know. I sure could not tie it together like rope. I do know that men like that term and that it is especially a favorite of men who pronounce [asphalt’] as “ash-fault”, and with just a little bit of arrogant authority. Anyway, in a panic to see if I could repair it, I found that I had all the repair tools I would need, but none of the right cable clamps. Moreover, my cell was not reaching home from there, so I could not get a ride and leave Griz on trhe road to –do what with tomorrow: the damned blade was down, the cable snarled on he winch, and the socalled wintry mix was coming down harder. And really, was I going to remove my gloves in freezing sleet to try to unwind gnarled steel winch cable (take that ash-fault snobs) inside a still installed winch housing? Was I nuts?

Slowly it dawned on me with a bit of a combined chill and thrill: I would have to drive up 1.6 miles of road, ascending somewhere near 1000 feet, pushing through very weighty and unwieldy semi-frozen snow and ice mounds i’d left along the inside of the road coming down, on ice that had formed under rhe slush, on Griz without his ice chains and with 100lbs of blade locked onto the ground uphill in front of me. I was scared stiff that at some point the pushback from the accumulating onto the pinned down blade would cause me on the Griz to pendulum and slide backwards over the outside edge of the road.

Griz was about to show me his mettle or at best, I’d have a very long walk back home without a flashlight on ice.

I locked the differenrtial, put griz inro gear and shoved the throttle, as WW2 fighter pilots said about going into war speed in emergencies, “balls to the wall.”, (plastic balls atop the two engine throttles all the way to the firewall — sorry alpha males and imaginaative females, but it had no physiological meaning),

All I can say is: wow. Old Griz did not even-grunt in pain.! My boy just dug his rubber claws into the pavement, leaned up into the slope, and wrestled, punched, pushed and slammed the snow all over the place all the way to rhe garage door at home and in record time. After about one minute riding with complete trust in Griz, I just leaned into the incline with him and we had just a unmatchable victory adventure up that dark little narrow old logging road, riding in complete harmonious mutual control.

Man did I love it: the Lone Plowguy Rode Again! It never got better than on that night.

In all this story telling, however, I have missed one part of my life with the Griz: the sense of thrill going up and down the slopes on a bright, cold morning, slopes in such pristine, clean, white blankets of snow. I wished old Griz could ferry me and my cameras but leave no tracks:the newfallen snow is so utterly soothingly beautiful.

l

Up to the top

Hail, from the Victors

Well there you are, now a sort of digital Tonto to my equally digital Lone Plowguy. But you know, as I’ve been immersed in writing this, figuring out how to get video into a block but mostly closely examining my pictrures and videos to see where I want them to fit in this narrative, there has been very little thought angst about the maelstrom of maladies swirling around us these days. Mostly I feel–have emotion–and it is the emotion we call gratitude, although I guess there is thought there too. Do I care? No. It is just great relief. Thanks for reading my sharing.

Amerika/America, du hast/you had….

We are nowhere near the end of the Trump-thumping we are taking.. We are not at the beginnig of the end, nor the end of the beginning.  We may be at the start of the beginning.  And that makes it all even more sad and urgent.  We have already lost so much; it is such a great shame.

Towards the end of his life, the great German poet, scientist, lawyer, statesman etc;, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) became very enchanted with the energy, robust freedom and lack of a haunting past in the young American Republic.  During those later years he wrote the following poem (here in English translation praising and expressing an important hope about us and  our republic:

(If you want to know more about who Goethe was, read my post “Who is this guy Go-ee’-thee (Goethe)?

Amerika du hast es besser

America, you have it better

Than our old continent.

You have no tumbledown castles

And no basalt deposits.

Your present is not disturbed deep down by

Useless remembrance and vain strife.

Use the present with good fortune!

And if your children write poetry,

May a kindly fate guard them from writing

Stories of knights, rascals, and specters.

http://www.bachlund.org/Amerika.htm

 translation by Marilyn Barnett

One of DT’s first targets for negation remains our fragile, wilting ecosystem.  We must get it back under control —and fast—.  Before DT touched nature with his cold, dead hands, an annual reduction of atmospheric hydrocarbons by 2% would have saved us-but we were barely making that. Now after he has negated our environmental protection, the yearly target for a timespan 4 years shorter than in 2016 is 5%.  And we had been barely eking out a scrawny 2%…. If we fail now, there will not be a second chance, the resulting inhospitable, lethal climate will make this planet uninhabitable.

Let us remember the hopes and faith that so many had for us so many years ago.

But we can only get to the end of the beginning by accepting without filtering where we are today. That’s the first step.

To that end, today Goethe’s hopeful poem could only be written something like this:

Amerika, du hattest es besser…

America, you had it better

Than our old continent.

But you failed to save your forests and oceans, 

You permanently poisoned pristine waters.

Shame! your present is blighted by leaders of

Useless remembrance and vain strife.

You misused the present in bad faith!

And your children will never write verse,

Condemned by drudge lackeys and their bumbling boss, to

end with a whimper: 

as nature winds down in reverse..

Where indeed have all the flowers gone, long time passing? How much pain must good men endure, before they throw off this yoke?

  

Step One

General Henning von Tresckow was the leader of plots to kill Hitler, including the Valkyrie plot. After the failure of Valkyrie, he killed himself with his pistol so that the Gestapo or Schutzstaffel could not extort or torture information from him about his co-conspirators.

The time for elegant analysis of why we are vulnerable to autocracy, to rule by whim replacing the rule of law has passed. We no longer need be concerned about the advent of autocracy and arbitrary rule. It is our government now.

What we need to know is that Barr and Trump are sparring about whether the President can intervene into cases being handled by the Attorney General. This may be about legal powers: I do not know. More fundamentally it is about norms for behavior. It is about maintaining one of the reasons for the revolution of 1776: making sure that the prosecuting arm of the highest executive function does not become both investigator and judge without jury or habeas corpus.

Trump has callously violated the rule of law and the life of liberty. That is not an inference, it is a manifest fact. Regardless of the toady subversion called the Impeachment Acquittal, if we want our almost three centuries of building, trying failing re-trying to have been for naught, we just let DT continue to intimidate and subvert. If we want to say that our national heritage leaders —Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, Lincoln, TR, FDR, Reagan, etc — all were wrong, we just let DT continue to twitter his way to crony governance, crony economy, and broken nation.

The love of that tradition, pride in our achievements in that tradition, highest respect and honor to those who did their duties in liberty, who gave it all in war, who challenged us to be better with their own words and examples, who taught us what our past and our heritage are—that all was made part of my soul starting on De ember 7, 1941, three months after I was born. The lessons continued — uninterrupted but often taught in grave conflict and meted out in dangerous situations—until the 2016 election. It was there to see in Trumps behavior: read the motivational tea leaves—he wanted and wants to control it all. Worse, he believes he can do it— just as did Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini and every other tyrant who has ever made life for the rest of us close to unbearable.

The hope that being in office might shape DT to our historical norms was in vain. It died when the Senate acquitted him and in so doing, thumbed their cowards’ noses to liberty under the rule of law. Breathing the sweet air of liberty has been the foundation, the sine qua non, of me, my soul. It is the first joy upon awakening, the last gratitude before sleep. It was The Default.

Now I can see that I was wrong. Shame on me for having been unwilling to accept that sad development. Shame on us for having spawned it.

One exception to that shaming,however: : a hesitant attaboy to the A. G for having told Trump to keep out of the Attorney General’s affairs, to stop tweeting about ongoing cases in the Department of Justice. That was the right direction, it was the right thing to do despite Trumps threatening response that he could take over if he wanted to.

All we need to see

Here are some of the examples of commitment to duty and the sweet land of liberty, that make me proud and drive me today:

My uncle, who was Director of Physical Education for the State of Michigan, and who as a commissioned officer with Gene Tunney designed the physical education program for the US Navy in World War Two.
Left to right: Mom, me riding piggy back on my uncle, 1st Lieutenant US Army FIeld Infantry, his wife: mid 1944 before he was sent to Europe and fought in the Battle of the Huertgen Forest. He never spoke of it, but after his return home, he destroyed the hundreds of letters he had written while overseas.
General Lucian Truscott and his staff at Anzio. He led the doomed US force out of the death pocket in Anzio. In a nearly hopeless situation, he and his omen are optimistic; American ended in I CAN for them. Some months later he spoke at the new US Cemetery in Nettuno. Instead of addressing the guests, he turned and addressed the dead, many of whom were under his command. He said he apologized, because there was no glory in dying at 19 years and he was responsible. And if he met any old men who thought otherwise, he would set them straight.
My Mom posing in a photo campaign to support rationing during World War Two;

The situation is clear, at least to me: this is unacceptable. It violates my own sense of self. Standing for our constitutional structure, honoring our heritage of democratic norms in leadership, defending them as the right moral way —that will always be what our duty is. It boils down to two important burning questions:

How much will I give out of love for the sweet clear mental, physical, spiritual air of liberty under law?

Do you and I know in our souls that it is our moral and patriotic duty to oppose Trump’s American Tyranny—and if we, the weak, do not, the US will be Trump’s forever? Am I clear that if we do not, then who will?

Good or bad, thinking makes it so.

A graduate of the southern Michigan high school I attended recently found a copy of the school’s 1926 yearbook in aThrift Shop in South Carolina. When he told the owner of the shop that he wanted to send it to his and my home town’s Historical Society up there, the owner of the Thrift Shop gave it to him for free.

It contains many hand written thoughts from 1926. The Historical Society published a few of them in the newsletter I get every month. Ofthe ones in the newsletter, three spoke to me — (the Society preserved punctuation, spelling and sentence construction):

“Love is great, love is mighty, I only wish your night shirt

Was next to my nighty. Now don’t get excited or be misled,

I mean on the clothes line and not in the bed.”

“A good thing to remember a better thing to do -is to belong

To the construction gang and not to the wrecking crew.”

“Remember the word “American” ends in I can!”

Those are the sorts of thoughts and they innocently clever style that I heard and learned as describing being an American in my formative years, 1941-1951. They re-awaken and refresh me like a cool wind on a hot, muggy, air-polluted day. They are like pretty flowers growing in an opening you had not seen before in a dark forest.

Nothing in the world is good or bad, but thinking makes it so. (Shakespeare). How might we indeed bring good light into our current,national-cultural bad, narcissistic darkness if we had retained the abilities, values and simple clean morality of that long gone era! Where indeed have all the beautiful flowers of American thinking gone?