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.
Well the suit must have shrunk because it feels all too tight these days.
CoVid19 Knocking at our doors, and I fit the fatality profile a bit more exactly than I would like
Facing the fact of mortality — much more up close and personal this time around (but really: been there, done that already a couple times_
A man who has no concept of Presidential leadership and is derailing a bit more every time he tries to speak effectively
Senators and supporters who astoundingly still think the Emperor really doesn’t even need new clothes
The same man and Senators who increasingly raise the emergency alarm bell concern: have they been bought by some foreign, unfriendly potentate?
Deaths of friends,
Concerns about family , other older friends and the danger to them from CoVId19
Complete mishandling by so many ( but not Smerkonish, not Dr Faust at Harvard, not Dr Fauci of CDC) of the other CoVid19 virus, panic–
worn out from holding tight on rollercoaster with a lot more roll than coast
not up to snuff in staying in the moment and stopping the core of the concern, Thinking.
A couple days ago, I finally involuntarily just shut down. Flat out, boom: all engines off. For some time I just sat in the recliner and stared back and forth from carpet, tp the wall, to the Apple TV’s moving screensaver of the Arctic, and Santa Monica,and moving across the Pacific towards the US West Coast: numb.
Then it struck me that numb is not all that bad. in fact it was half way to good. I could escape the whirling mind if I did what Eckhart Tolle teaches: get aware of surroundings, appreciate, feel a warm comfort grow along wothj anticipatory awareness, and drop out of or just dismiss the persistent, troublesome Thinking..
I tried — again and again. I had to switch off thoughts over and over again, but I kept at it for a bit. I had heard the Dalai Lama say that he and all spiritually skillful people have all the same emotions that the rest of us do, but they let go of them faster. So I should try. And I’d heard and seen Ram Dass say: don’t work on the thoughts, let ’em go, just let ’em go. So I did — over and over.
Escape via Stopping the Gold Rush
It did not take long before I was starting to flog myself with unkind Thoughts about how I could not stop my unkind Thought Out of nowhere, i recalled that .I’d read a couple of Goethes poems so often that I stopped counting (Auf dem See, Wandrers Nachrtlied II aka Ein Gleiches), and. just loved them without really knowing why.. And as the icebergs slowly moved towards me on the Visio screen, it hit me: they took me to a place of being in the present, floating on the imagery that locked me into awareness in a present moment and thus restored union with nature — of appreciative attending to those word pictures and not entranced by the golden lure of thinking I can think it all out. Alone.
On the Lake
And I draw in fresh sustenance,
New blood from the untrammeled world:
How gracious and generous is nature,
Who holds me to her bosom!
The wave sways our boat
To the rhythm of the oars,
And mountains, nebulously reaching for heaven,
Meet our course.
Eye of mine, why are you downcast?
Golden dreams, have you returned?
Away dream, golden though you are:
Here, too, there are love and life.
A thousand hovering stars twinkle on the wave,
Soft mists drink the towering horizon around us,
The morning breeze flutters over the shaded bay,
And the lake reflects the ripening fruit.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) , written 1775
.Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), 1775
Elena BlackthorneUnited States, WA, Seattlehttp://www.editred.com/Uploads/st_92043_Translation_of_Auf_dem_See
Follow the word images so that you can escape that maelstrom, yuour thinking. Imagine that: a Ph D, that quintessential example of the power of rational. thinking, has led me to a place of no thinking at all! An irony? perhaps, but in the end, a gift And as I was being in the moment, something passed an idea into the warm comfort: what about those winter times back up on the mountain– shift your focus to something that you like. Be grateful and express that – -convincingly for once.
Was someone or something watching me secretly? I had just finished reviewing many of the wintertime pictures I had taken in our mountain home between 1998 and 2017, when we moved..
Out of the Water and Down the Ski Slope
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.
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.
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.
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..
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.
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.
AS we age, if we are lucky, we get the chance to assess the balance of plus and minus in our lives. If we are lucky, we get to ask of ourselves, as the aged Private Ryan asks his wife at the end of Saving Private Ryan: have I lived a good life?
Turning on You tube did that for me today—and helped me sharpen the moral battle sword I think I am called on to carry now at 78 and for as long as I need to or live, which ever ends first.
After I had been up for about an hour, I thought: its the 4th, why not see if YouTube has long playing patriotic music. Yes: an 8 hour selection that I set to “loop”—keep on playing.
It has all the music I so have loved all my life: Sousa marches, the official songs of the branches of the military services, patriotic hymns and some non-US American marches which we play so often that they might as well have been ours: If I did not know better, I would be wondering what units Radetzky and Colonel Bogey served in.
So many thoughts and emotions about this country, MY COUNTRY, were triggered by all that oh so familiar music: chest inflating, march tempo foot stomping, gratitude, pride in what we have tried to do with the better angels of our nature. Yes there had been times when I thought that we had permitted our focus to blur, our honor to be stained by greed and small minded authority figures, the vision of what we could be lost in favor of pursuit of the lowest common denominators—position, power, status, prestige, win-lose competition, trying so hard to be #1 that we lose sight of the debris of destruction in our wake
But the ones that keep coming back, come from 1941-1945 mainly.
I was born 3 months before the Japanese Empire destroyed the muscle of our Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor, all except for the aircraft carriers, that is. I had three uncles in the services: one designed with Gene Tunney the physical training for the Navy in World War Two, one who fended off Japanes machinegun bullets on Iwo Jima while using his bulldozer to prepare landing strips, one-who was asked to return to the services as an officer after a Depression years tour of duty as a non-com, was a 1st Lieutenant of Field Artillery, in the Huertgen Forest. He destroyed all the letters he had written to my aunt after being mustered out in Detroit, and refused to speak of that nightmare.
Two of them wrote me letters from their duty stations, which my Mom read to me just because they were there. I have all of them from one of them today still.
How proud and at the same time worried to death my parents were about the two in combat. I just natuallly absorbed all that emotion. But mostly I got my feelings about the US from my dad.
My Dad was mayor of my then hometown in Michigan from 40 through 48. He was an attorney with a background in high school teaching. He taught history, civics and coached the debate team — which kept winning debate contests under his guidance. He was proud as a strutting peacock and grateful— as I have ever seen anyone be— that he lived in the United States of America. He was a Republican of an ilk that the Republicans would not even recognize today: he thought FDR one of our great Presidents, he praised a country that built a strong and prosperous middle class, he was a staunch defender of the Bill of RIghts, of the absolute need for the protection of the writ of habeas corpus, of a military that never began the fight but usually won, a military that was 100% subservient to our civilian leaders, that was built never to turn on its own citizenry, that was not a permanent standing army, of Presidents who acted beyond party boundaries for the common good, of a strict construction of the Constitution, of the notion that we cannot legislate morality, and much, much more. He taught us that in conversation over dessert at the dinner table..
He did his duty when called also. He had tried to enlist, but was rejected. The examining doctors said that the Army needed professionals who could go right in as officers,and that he would go as a Major except that his pilonidal cyst would mean he could not ride in Jeeps and that the Army would have to pay for his surgery and recovery. No, the doctor said, you can serve better in civilian life. Rejected!
He was Air Raid Warden, and he led the drives for War Bond subscriptions. In the latter he was very successful: first city of our size then in the US to achieve 100% War Bond subscriptions. He was awarded a medal and I think it was given him by General MacArthur – but could be mistaken.
Mostly however, he expressed his pride, patriotism and gratitude musically: he would sing the services songs and march around the house, with me doing the same in tow in later 44 and before May 8 1945.
All of those memories are mine! More than that, however, the emotions and the sense of pride in what the US was striving to be were etched without any filters right onto my soul. Today I see how right they were; I see how much they are a part of that central core of me called the self image. Aged and having been tested by time and trial, they and their emotional power are emerging at the other end of my life, emerging with that childhood energy giving them new life.
Those thoughts all were waving like many flags in the blustery mental winds of an old man letting all the memories of 78 years gather, present themselves in review for inspection and assessment, by and for both my mind and that observer who inhabits my soul: which side of the scale, the + or the-, will fall under the greater weight. And as it has been doing for some months now, the weight is surprisingly greater on the positive, morally right side. It builds that all important grease for sliding through the rusty, rough passages, gratitude.
I was not feeling too well as the music began to flood me with all of the above, and so my marching to the music (with the proud accompaniment of my dad, I am sure) was rather less than the chest out, chin up strutting like I always felt like doing hearing the Allentown Band play Sousa at the 4th celebrations in Ocean Grove NJ.
And then The Battle Hymn of the Republic came on. MIne eyes have seen the coming of the Lord—moral rectitude and being willing to die for freedom. My eyes could not see because they were pouring out tears. I was crying silently but so hard that I was choking. Tears were coming from my soul.
I was so overwhelmed that it took a little for me to understand why I had spontaneously begun to cry so hard. For what? I have heard and sung that revered battle hymn hundreds of times.
I cried because there is a blockage now to those well justified feelings of pride in being a citizen of a country with enough belief in itself and in ideals to have been working towards a more perfect union of, by and for the people for 244 years. We have faltered, failed, been wrong, been unable to unite as fast as needed—always however it was inside the bounds of our Constitution, never ever posing a challenge to the country’s indispensable moral examples of Washington, Lincoln, FDR and others of our morally committed leaders.
Donald J Trump is the anathema of all that I held dear, He is the living embodiment of the Devil as depicted in the great classical work on evil, Goethes Faust: the spirit who constantly negates. Constantly.
His ignorant, unskilled, intemperate, selfish, threatening, superficial, wavering bully behavior casts a pall on everything I have held sacred. And the worst part is that a substantial minority of Americans does not, will not, cannot understand the traditions he is violating. They are willing Trump executioners for The Donald of anythng but what Devil Donald wants for himself.
Of course our history is still there. Maybe we can recover it from this collapse, but for me the corrosive poisonous fog has sbown me concretely to what we have let the growth of the negative on my scales define who we are. Grief is the roadblock to that unfettered joyful, energized marching around the house while singing with full gusto, Anchors Aweigh, the Caisson Song (WW2 version, please!), off we go, into the wild blue yonder….and yes an un-arranged version of the National Anthem.
And right below the grief, because I will not betray the vision of who we can be, is anger, raging, red-hot, boiling anger, anger like lava looking for that crack into which to explode and attack.
In the end, all Trump has done is to weld me to my inherited imperatives to help drive this nation in becoming a more perfect Union of, by and for the people.
So Donald, you want to divide us, eh? You want a fight, eh Donald? I have tried and tried to be civil, not to engage at the lowlife level where you live, and I will not stoop to that level. But fight I will. The lava is there, getting hotter, and ready to erupt all over you and your gang of slugs, slimy swine and serpents. All it needs is for you to continue to be the disgustingly disruptive empty suit you are.
I will march and sing, but no longer as just validation of what we were working to become. Now it all is a battle hymn for the present and the future for me.
Anchors, aweigh, roll the caissons, open the gates of heaven for us, and let us march today especially but every day, and sing to keep men free. America, America, God shed his grace on thee and crown the good by dumping Trump and with brotherhood for all of us, from sea to shining sea.
top--Zeit (German for time, “Times” is the name of Germany’s most read non tabloid newspaper. Weltweit 7 Tage–worldwide, 7 days; Stand: 30 Juni, situation as of June 30th; 1,235,933 confirmed new infections in the last seven days; Großbrittanien–Great Britain, Deutschland-Germany;
the graph--Left axis confirmed new infections’ Bottom axis: days after 50 confirmed infections
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 .
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:
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:
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.
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!.
Over 42 million Americans have filed for unemployment since the pandemic began. Many of them are losing their health insurance because we as a country decided to tie it to employment. And … hospitalized coronavirus patients are being discharged with bills in excess of a million dollars,
Charity and change begin at home: shame on me, shame on us.
Shame for having put up with a tattered, moth eaten, patchwork quilt healthcare scam. Shame on us for having stood aside while the money suckers made health, the fundamental condition for viable national life, a commodity to be sold for the profit of empty suit corporate managers and the totally unneeded accretion of wealth for the money vampires.
It is a national obscenity and cannot be left unaltered. Healthcare of the people, by the people, for the people in a reformed governance of the people, by the people, for the people.
The EU is now considering closing its borders to US travelers.
They say we do nothing to control the Corona Virus.
They are right.
Trump just destroys whatever does not feed his psychotically deluded ego. Thje virus is proving him a failure. What to do? Ignore it.
He cannot summon his sheep to any rally of import any more: l ook at Tulsa. What to do? Blame anyone else, foment a crises somewhere else, threaten objectors, then finally deny and ignore it.
Except in a world based on blatant evil, his mis- and malfeasance are real llve felonious crimes. People have died who otherwise could have had a chance to live had he not intentionally bungled dealing with Corona. Yes, – he has said that he interfered with treartment to help boost his failng stock.. He thinks he can say such things with impunity and that saying them makes them real.
What a great gift for all of us from the Repugnikans: isolation in the world while a psycholpath sets up death by CoVid19 in an effort to reduce the number of hjs opponents.
It appears however, finally to expanding and strengthening the opposition.
Nice but no cigar. Necessasry but insufficient.
Here is another echo of what is being said more frequently and more open-assertively these days: we the People, in order to form a more perfect union, need to jetison The Donald. Not in the election which after all may or may not happen, . No. Unambiguously, and unalterably.
Are you listening Democrats, moderate Republlicans, the Lincoln Project, the politically disengaged–everone except the far right and far left or especially the far right and the far left?
Before it is too late, arrange for a Big Slide down and out for DT. Because if you do not, there could well be others who will act to stop the crimes and incompetent ways far less gently than what one might be considering about now. Do not let him drag us down to a Roman Empire’s murderous ways of changing leadership. Do not stoop that low. We are better than that. Prove it on Donald.
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.
1. A country in which the wealthy and their puppets want to rebuild an economy by sacrificing the lives of those who most need the recovery and the seniors, who are the least able to defend themselves? Call that nations notion the Christie Sink or Swim Resurrection.
2. A country in which all are working to end the depredations of the virus for all and in which there has been informed, researched debate about what actions will let all return to some semblance of normal life? Call that country’s strategy German Strategic Incremental Reconstruction.
The Christie SS Resurrection will object in tones of wounded noblesse oblige. Theirs is no fly-by-night, off handed, facile idea! They do so in all seriousness and after careful consideration for the growing financial and political losses of the pandemic. They are soberly suggesting the intentional sacrifice of a few for the benefit of the majority! That’s the democratic way! And that’s only realistic—sooner or later we will need the bustling economy to compensate the corporation s for their losses while shut down. And that in turn will trickle down to restart all the rest!
Note that the Christie SS Resurrection is not a vendetta or witch-hunt. They are not Nazis, aiming at certain numbers and groups of less than human people! They are not hard hearted killers—-they do not have to resort to that. It can all be done quietly. Just keep the seniors at home with last shot at food and healthcare, and let those who are now starving return to their infected workplaces, and the choice will take care of itself. To is actually the humane way to resurrect—in their view.
And consistent with their self proclaimed humane way, the Christie SS Resurrection will think itself noble for having made the tough choice, for having had the courage to act fo the good of others. In a Repugnikan, trickle-down sort of way, of course.
Let us then honor them! Their spiritual stature must rest upon the universal pillar of all spiritually viable movements, the Golden Rule.
So, consistent with their exemplary spirituality, let them send their families to be sacrificed first! Perhaps they might join their families on that path to noble destiny. That is, if they are not too busy identifying the next round of sacrifices for the economic good.
What an example they will leave for all times once their story has entered the history books!
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?)
Statistics show that 45% of Republicans are ignoring social distancing. They are going out in groups, doing all that Dr Fauci and everyone else has warned them about.
To no avail. They just keep at it.
While they are ardently at work on resurrecting some imagined golden past time,, the United States now has become the most infected and most lethal place for CoVid19 on earth.
Evidence to any eyes that are open and any brain capable of distinguishing a real live plague of BIblical proportions from a Father Knows Best delusion. This is not a wave of colds, this is lethally dangerous, easily worthy of Last Days status if left to its own devices.
Any fool can see that. Just look at what has happened to the health care system of New York. Or New Jersey. Or. or. Or…and so on ad nauseam. OK, well, perhaps not Trumpublican Fools. They continue to act out the the 20th Century’s insane script of growth, trickle down, casino capitalism. As they try harder and harder, all sorts of things fail. It is the Story of The Donald’s Deluded Life.
It is clear to a blind man that Trump is a colossal failure with Corona virus and CoVid19.. And so what is their reaction? Work to improve the health of those they are supposed to represent? No. They appoint mushmound lapdog Lindsay Graham to be Chief Inquisitor in a Witchhunt for scandals involving President Obama.
Be clear: Trump uses lies, accusations and chaos to get his way–or at least to try. So do not be surprised when Graham vomits up some rotten old garbage looking for all the deluded world like an “Obamagate”
Be clear also about this: working for the people of the US is not an agenda in theTrumpublican Partei. It has not been for 50 years. Let’s finally get some truths: there is no democracy in the US now, there never was much, and we have the best government that money can buy for Rich Mitch and has rich beyond belief puppeteers. They want to own the richest prize now on earth, our country. And they want YOU and ME to have to work for them for a pittance, without health care to keep it all pouring cash into their coffers. T
They have been working for 50 years to get this. Nothing short of a revolution will get rid of them.
andMoscow Mitch (old MM) says in retort, so what? We have the power now and it is going to be tough …. for The People. Here;s what I think of them: : let the people drown in their own cheap swill, go nuts on their frustrated dreams, die of CoVid19 and just simply starve to death. You the People do not count. So get the hell out of our way. We are paid off, mounted and ready to ride!
MM (gums up your hands, fouls in your mouth), DT ( the legend in his own mini-mind), et al , are living proof of two old German adages: die Dummheit stirbt nie aus.— stupidity will never become extinct and second, even more apropos, Wenn dein Pferd stirbt, steig’ ab!: when your horse dies, dismount!
Living those two adages means lilving the third one: arrogance cometh before the fall. They have sown the wind. WE need to be the whirlwind. That means a lot more pushing them for the fall and that has to mean finally doing much more to them than just winning an election.
Big changes are in the works—this is a spiritual as well as physical, mental, financial, social upheaval. In the DT-spawned and MM managed lethal vacuum of leadership and care involving CoVid19, in the violent racist response to Black Livces Matter, we are rediscovering helping each other again. They underestimate the equal and opposite reaction to them that is building. We are finding allies all across the globe. We are learning that we need to strike back in ways we would never before have considered. We need to upset the apple cart..
And, we are discovering that we can do without those old fools beating their dead horses.
So bored and angry are we at them that we no longer even laugh at a bunch of pasty dissipated old MM-like boys sitting on top of decaying horse cadavers (or were those Elephant corpses?) kicking, jerking reins and shouting, Wahoo, yippiekaiyaye, out of the way you evil liberals because here we come….
As we begin to turn our backs and minds on them, we slowly begin to chuckle at those zombie-faced, half human, dead-horse beaters. They are right where they belong.
Do not dismount, boys. You are serving the cause of democracy very well right where you are.