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The Reality I’m Not Denying

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Grief is one of the hardest and most profound emotions humans ever experience. At times, it feels like you are losing your mind and that you will never experience normalcy again….
Humanism provides an excellent framework for coping with grief. It is rational, compassionate and responsible. We accept our grief in the present with the goal of finding a way to live our lives fully despite our loss.
(Intro to “The Humanist Approach to Grief and Grieving – a Rational and Compassionate Approach to Bereavement,” by Jennifer Hancock)

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When someone we love dies, it can intensely undermine our sense of stability and safety. Our lives have been changed forever, generally by forces we had no control over and it can feel as if nothing’s in our control. It can feel like the ground under our feet, which we once thought was stable, has suddenly gone soft…

This feeling can be especially strong if the person who died was someone we were exceptionally close with and who had a large presence in our everyday lives, like a spouse or a partner or a child….And it can be especially strong if the death was unexpected, like an accident, a sudden illness, or death by violence.

Typically, religion teaches us to cope with these feelings by denying them. It tells us that, no matter how insecure we may feel, in reality we’re completely safe. The people who have died aren’t really dead we’ll see them again. Their death hasn’t actually changed our lives permanently. In fact, the next time we see them it’ll be in a blissful place of perfect safety.  [1]

The opposite is true for nonreligious and non-spiritual views of death. Nonbelievers don’t deny this experience of instability. So instead we can try to accept it, and find ways to live with it.

The reality is that safety isn’t an either/or thing. We’re never either entirely safe or entirely unsafe. The ground under our feet is never either totally solid or totally soft. Stability and safety are relative: they’re on a spectrum. We’re more safe, or less safe.

Coping with grief and moving on with it doesn’t mean that the ground feels entirely solid again. It means that the ground feels more solid…. We still understand that things can come out of left field –  terrible things, and wonderful ones.

( “Secular Grief, and the Loss of Stability and Safety,” The Humanist)

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Department Of Time And Tea

Question: (posed to a British atheist) How do you offer condolences to grieving friends and family?

Answer: By listening. Taking time to talk rather than giving a simple pat phrase.
I offer time and tea.

(Atheists and Grieving, The Guardian, 9-26-13)

 

As previewed in last week’s blog and in light of the recent tragedy of the death of a dear friends’ daughter, moiself is sharing a few quotes and insights about how we who are religion-free   [2] – whether we identify as Atheists, Freethinkers, Brights, Humanists, Skeptics, etc. – view death and grieving.

First off, I should disavow usage of the royal “we,” as there is no dogma/scriptures to which those who hold a naturalistic world view must subscribe. That said, we have much in common with religious believers in that all human beings grieve their losses, with pain proportional to the magnitude of those losses.    [3] 

No one is immune from grief and suffering. The comfort we who are religion-free take in our natural (as opposed to supernatural) worldview is compelling because it requires neither denial of reality nor self-delusion. The comforts of a Humanistic approach to life are grounded in gratitude and wonder at life itself, and of the awareness that life’s cherished moments are made all the more valuable by their impermanence.

 

 

 

(Religious) believers and non-believers have many things in common, and much of what we find comforting during grief is the same – but much of is it seriously different, and even contradictory.

Religious beliefs about death are only comforting if you don’t think about them very carefully — which ultimately makes it not very comforting…. A philosophy that accepts reality is inherently more comforting than a philosophy based on wishful thinking – since it doesn’t involve cognitive dissonance and the unease of self-deception.

I think there are ways to look at death, ways to experience the death of other people and to contemplate our own, that allow us to feel the value of life without denying the finality of death. I can’t make myself believe in things I don’t actually believe — Heaven, or reincarnation, or a greater divine plan for our lives — simply because (we have been told that) believing those things would make death easier to accept. And I don’t think I have to, or that anyone has to. I think there are ways to think about death that are comforting, that give peace and solace, that allow our lives to have meaning and even give us more of that meaning — and that have nothing whatsoever to do with any kind of god, or any kind of afterlife.

( “Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing To Do With God,” Greta Christina)

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At this point I   [4]  am firmly convinced that a Humanist approach is the best way to deal with grief. Here is why.

1) It is natural. We don’t deny death…. Why is this beneficial? Because when you don’t deny death…you have to deal with it. Grief is so painful that most people will do just about anything to avoid it. But avoiding grief isn’t the same as dealing with grief. A Humanist chooses to deal with grief directly.

2) We have no one to get mad at…. When you have a naturalist approach, you don’t have someone, like a god, who you can blame for causing it. Why is not having someone to get mad at beneficial? Because, displaced anger is very common with grief and it is again a way to avoid grief. It doesn’t help us come to terms with it. It just funnels our grief into an irrational anger.

3) Grief is a natural human response to overwhelming loss or sadness…. We don’t have to be afraid of it, we just have to allow ourselves to experience it.  Why is this better? Because again, people spend so much time trying to avoid grief that they never just allow themselves to experience it and deal with it and move on. Instead, they stay in a sort of grief limbo – too afraid to just experience the emotions so that they can get on with life.

4) Our focus in on the here and now…. There is a tendency among people who believe in an afterlife to put their hopes and dreams into thinking about that after life. After all, when living gets tough, it just seems easier to give up and hope for a better life. The natural approach is better because focusing on and hoping for an afterlife means you are giving up on this one. You aren’t going to try to heal, you are just going to suffer and wait until you die so you can be happy then.

5) We are focused on living. Yeah, we are sad. Possibly overwhelmingly sad…. But again, (we take) a long view of what was happening….  Accepting grief is a necessary first step, but it is only the first step. Then you have to deal with it and learn how to cope with it. Belief in an afterlife hinders that process.

(Natural Grief, a Humanist Perspective)

 

 

 

*   *   *

 

I don’t believe in life after death; I believe in life before death. I believe that the way we live in the here and now has immense and ultimate value, and that the one provable, demonstrable “afterlife” all of us (no matter our religious or world views) will have is in the way our lives have touched others.  We will live on in the legacies we leave to this world – the after-effects of our actions and relationships is what causes our friends and family to remember and honor us long after we are gone.

Three years ago, when MH’s father died from complications of Parkinson’s disease, a friend wondered aloud about how MH’s and my children, Belle and K, were handling this loss. It must be tough for them, she mused, seeing as how this was their first grandparent to die.

“Ah, well, actually…” My stammering reply was interrupted by my friend, who, wide-eyed with shock and embarrassment, sputtered what was to be the first in a series of apologies for her inexcusable (in her view) faux pas, of somehow temporarily forgetting that my beloved father had died seven years earlier:

“It’s just that, the way you always talk about him, it’s as if he’s still here.”

I never held her lapse of memory against her, because it was the impetus for one of the most kind, and ultimately profound, things anyone has ever said to me.

 

 

(Chester Bryan Parnell [8-8-1924 – 2-11-2009] proving art age 51 he could still hoist his “Robbie Doll”)

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May we always remember to love ’em while we’ve got ’em;
May the way we talk about our loved ones keep them “still here;”
May we all offer one another time and tea;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] There are exceptions—e.g., many Buddhist teachings focus on the inherent impermanence of existence.

[2] As is my friend’s family, as well as MH and I and our (young adult) children.

[3] And despite the claims of religious folk who say they find comfort in the thought of an afterlife, I’ve never met a religious believer who was eager to get there, no matter how much they say they believe in/hope for, say, “the better life with Jesus” which supposedly awaits them. They comfort friends and family with platitudes (“god took your mother home; she’s in a better place…”) even as they fight tooth and nail to keep themselves from that “better” place. From what I have seen and read and heard, when it comes down to it, the “faithful” have little faith in their death/after life beliefs, because if they did, they’d gladly die rather than rushing to medical science to keep them from their alleged god/afterlife.  If you really believe that you and your loved ones will have everlasting bliss in heaven together, what are you doing so desperately hanging around on this life on earth? Why are you relying on science to keep you alive (and to prolong the deaths of people you don’t even know and who don’t hold your views, as when religious believers try to stop families who want to remove brain dead relatives from life support) when you get sick?

[4]  The author of the article experienced the death of her child.

The Speculation I’m Not Endorsing

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Department Of The Difference One Word Can Make

Last week I wrote about the death of Dr. SEH, dearly loved daughter of our friends LPH and DH.  Dr. SEH was doing her first year of medical residency in Salt Lake City where, on Sunday evening, January 27, she was murdered by her boyfriend, who then killed himself.

Friends and family and colleagues, we who knew and loved SEH (and if you knew her, you loved her) have been __________ . Get out your thesaurus and fill in the blanks with every emotion involving horror, grief, overwhelming shock, and gob-smacked confusion.

Speaking of filling in the blanks, I understand the temptation to do so with regards to this dreadful tragedy, because our shock/confusion stems from the fact that this came “out of nowhere,” as they say.

We all want to look for reasons to explain the unreasonable…we are all looking for clues, and so far, as of this writing, there are none.  Thus, my irritation at a Well-Meaning Person, ®  one whose well-meaning quote (my emphasis) made me want to swing a sack of Well-Meaning Potatoes at her head.

‘It’s just crushing … to know that she must have been struggling.’
(“Vigil Planned In California For Doctor Killed In Sugar House Domestic Violence Slaying,” Salt Lake Tribune story 1-28-19)

 

And your evidence for this would be…?

Here is what frosts my butt: as of the time that quote was given – a mere one day after SEH’s death – [1] no one knew that SEH “must have been struggling.”  No one knew anything; thus, our previously mentioned overwhelming shock and confusion.  Well-Meaning Person presumed SEH had been struggling, as in, with a “domestic violence” situation.  And still, as of this writing, no one knows that for certain.

Yes, many times when women are killed by their partners there has been an ongoing/ escalating pattern of abuse and violence. And other times, it comes out of the proverbial blue. Either way, from what we knew then – at the time that person made that statement – and from what we know now…what we know is that we just don’t know.

We lack that pesky little thing called evidence. The killer left no note; neither the victim nor the killer had communicated to anyone – family, friends, colleagues – that there was trouble in the relationship. Family, friends, colleagues, neighbors – all thought and experienced them as a happy couple. There had been no calls to police or domestic violence counseling centers or hotlines or campus police or SEH’s residency supervisors, either from the couple or about them (i.e. neighbors reporting arguments) until moments before the actual murder/suicide.   [2]  There were no witnesses; no hidden cameras or recordings; the killer had no history of mental illness….

From all appearances, SEH’s first hint that her boyfriend was capable of such a thing was when he killed her.

What we don’t know at this point would fill the Grand Canyon   [3] of speculation.  Autopsies and toxicology tests will be performed, and can take anywhere from four to six weeks to get results. But the results can only provide possible whats, and not whys.

So. To repeat moiself: We all seek reasons to explain the unreasonable.  We are all capable of doing that privately. But to see such speculation in print is…not helpful, to put it mildly.

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“So senseless and sad, two completely devastated and bewildered families.”

This was my younger sister’s reaction, after reading an article which contained an interview with the killer’s father and also a statement from SEH’s family.  My response to her, in part:

“… (the emotion of) bewilderment is, in some ways, almost up there with the sadness and devastation, and the “why”s will likely never be answered. I thought the father in the article did well, and I do try to remember that there are two grieving families involved (even though I no longer speak his- the killer’s – name). In some ways their burden may be ultimately harder than (SEH’s parents), as in, being the parents of a murderer, they will not have the same emotional support.  As far as I know, there is no POPWMOPC – Parents of People Who Murder Other People’s Children – support group.”

And yet, from that same article (link provided below), a Utah domestic violence worker disputes the “out of nowhere” and “he must have just snapped” characterization of the murder-suicide:

But Jenn Oxborrow, director of the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition, said research shows random outbursts of domestic violence almost never happen. “People do not just snap,” she said.
Oxborrow said that even in relationships where there aren’t glaring red flags, some kind of abuse — such as power or control issues — typically becomes evident after a tragedy.

Sometimes the warning signs can be a partner having sole control of finances, or an otherwise loving relationship where there isn’t trust — where one partner is always looking through the other’s phone, for example, or where a partner isolates the other.
Studies have also shown that when a gun is present in a home and there is any sort of history of domestic violence, a woman is about five times more likely to die by that firearm, Oxborrow said.
(excerpt from “How can it end like this?’ After a man shot and killed his girlfriend and himself in their Sugar House home, two families grapple with how they died,”
The Salt Lake Tribune, 2-2-19)

*   *   *

I don’t know.

I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.
I don’t know.

For now, I will hold on to what we do know:

The family’s statement said a friend of SEH had described her best, quoting the friend as saying, “SEH was unfailingly kind, fun, hilarious, brilliant, and one of the most supportive friends anyone could ever have. She had the strongest work ethic of anyone I’ve seen and she was so driven to help people. She never met a challenge she couldn’t overcome, and she made all the people around her feel unstoppable and bold.”
… a family friend…named as a spokesman, said in his own comments, “SEH was one of those unique people that had all the smarts, perseverance and drive to succeed at whatever she set her mind to, but also the gifts of compassion and empathy to help other people in need.” She was close with her family, he added. “All of which makes the loss of her precious life the more difficult to bear for those who knew and loved her.”

MH and I were concerned about DH, SEH’s father, who had gone to Salt Lake City to meet with police, gather his daughter’s effects, and take care of the other unthinkable “tasks” which accompany such a tragedy.  When MH  [4] asked DH how he was doing.  DH responded:

Thank you. It seems SEH created groups of amazing supportive friends everywhere she went so I’ve been taken care of here.

Indeed. I know she did, and I know where SEH got that ability: from her mind-boggling marvelous mother, LPH.

During that devastating phone call in which LPH told me about her daughter’s death, LPH and I reminisced about how I was one of the first people, other than immediate family, to hear SEH”s voice: the doctor and nurse practitioner who lovingly cared for LPH during her pregnancy and then delivered the baby were my former employers and cherished friends, DWB and PHB, and they telephoned me from the delivery room just as SEH made her way into this world.

We who knew SEH were awed by what she experienced in her life, and especially, by what she made with those experiences.  Intelligent and determined, despite the many grueling surgeries she underwent due to her Stickler syndrome and the loss of sight in one eye, SEH remained a top student in her classes, skied and river rafted, and persisted in pursuing her goals, becoming the medical doctor that some people told her was out of her reach.

She was also beautiful, charming, witty, caring, and adored her family – she and her brother were literally best friends…and I can’t imagine a person who didn’t love and admire her after knowing her.

“Sarah Elizabeth” English tea rose

 

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Department Of Preview Of Coming Attractions:
How the Religion-Free Think About Death & Grief

Here is (an excerpt of) what a religion-free [5]  journalist wrote to a (religious) friend who had recently suffered the loss of her father. This friend asked him to tell her what he thought was the “next step,” and to “please lie to make it more interesting” if his answer might not suit her.

You asked me what I think is the next step.
Well, no one has reported back from the other side, none of us who are alive have been to the other side, and we don’t have any factual evidence supporting a life (as we know it) after we die.
To me, believing what I want to be true can be very comforting (like my unshakable belief that Jessica Alba wants all my babies), but that doesn’t make it true.
I find more comfort in what I know to be true. For the things I don’t know, I prefer saying just that — I don’t know — instead of entertaining supernatural guesses or made-up answers from a time when humans didn’t know about the carbon cycle or the structure of the DNA that your father passed on to you, his living, breathing daughter.
You said that if I didn’t have the answers, I should “lie to make it more interesting.” But I have always found things most interesting when I didn’t have to lie. That is why I am an atheist.
Admitting ignorance is humbling. It reminds us that as fleeting inhabitants of this vast universe, we are part of something much bigger. It forms a foundation  for the curiosity that defines us as human beings, that drives us to contemplate our existence, educate ourselves, and to grow and evolve as individuals and as a species.
To lose that is a much worse death than physical death.
I wish you the strength and resolve to cope with your loss. Mourn his death, but also celebrate the life that he helped give you. That’s what he would have wanted.
(“Grief Without Belief – How Do Atheists Deal With Death,”
Huffington Post, 10-22-13,
By Ali A. Rizvi, Pakistani-Canadian author of The Atheist Muslim: A Journey from Religion to Reason)

*   *   *

May we all be taken care of, wherever our “here” is;
May we readily admit what we do not know;
May we find comfort in what we know to be true;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *


[1] Given by the dean of the medical school where SEH got her M.D.

[2] When the person who lived in the basement below the couple heard what she thought was a home invasion going on upstairs, and fled through a basement window and ran a block to safety before calling the police.

[3] Where MH and our son K did a river rafting trip with SHE and her family, last spring. The last time we saw her.

[4] Regular readers know that I use the blogonym “MH” to refer to My Husband.

[5]  A freethinker is a person who forms opinions on the basis of reason, independent of authority or tradition, especially a person whose religious opinions differ from established belief.

The Life I’m Not Mourning

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I hate it, beginning a blog post – or any kind of statement – with a lie. It’s a lie because I am mourning, even as I find the term inadequate to describe the feelings experienced by those of us who loved a remarkable young woman whose life was recently and unexpectedly cut short.

Wednesday (1/30) morning, just before 7 am. The bright, sliver-moon’s optimism, portending the sunny/crisp winter day to come, taunted me with its optimism. A mere two days earlier I would have celebrated such a sight; instead, I felt resentful, then foolish, to recognize my emotions (It’s just a moon; it doesn’t know, or care about, your pain).  As all emotions have done in the past week, everything quickly faded to numb. It was 26˚ outside, but that’s not what chilled me.

 

 

 

When you answer the phone call and hear the voice of your dearly loved friend – her tone at once agitated and lifeless – you realized that the nightmare into which you are about to descend is no dream.

In the days and weeks right after a murder the victim’s family is often in a state of shock, feeling numb, sometimes unable to cry. The murder of a loved one seems almost impossible to comprehend. Life feels unreal, like a dream. Survivors may need to go over the details of the crime again and again, discussing them endlessly, as though trying to put together the pieces of a puzzle, struggling to make sense of it all. They tell themselves, “This can’t be true.”
(“A Grief Like No Other,” The Atlantic, September 1997

Dateline: Monday, 1/28/19, 10:05 am. As I was reaching to turn off my cellphone for yoga class, I received a call, which I answered. It was my friend, LPH. She and her husband DH had been visited that morning by local  [1]  police, and a police chaplain. Those public servants were carrying a devastating message from police in Salt Lake City, where LPH’s and DH’s 27 year old daughter, SEH, was in her first year of medical residency:

At approximately 8:30 the previous evening SEH had been shot and killed by her boyfriend,  [2]  who then took his own life.

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domestic
adjective

Definition of domestic

1a : living near or about human habitations (“domestic vermin”)

b : tame, domesticated (“the domestic cat”)

2 : of, relating to, or originating within a country and especially one’s own country (“domestic politics, “domestic wines,” “domestic manufacturing,” “all debts foreign and domestic”)

3 : of or relating to the household or the family (“domestic chores,” “domestic happiness”)

4 : devoted to home duties and pleasures (“leading a quietly domestic life”)

5 : indigenous (“a domestic species”)

 

In the news reports  [3] I read the familiar phrases, such as “domestic violence” and “domestic-related” homicide.   I understand the etiology of those terms, as per domestic’s definitions and usages.  Still, I fucking hate them.

 

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SEH will be remembered as an extraordinarily engaged and competent and empathetic person at UC-SF.
She really stood out for her commitment to taking care of patients from the time they were born until the time they died. And she was so excited about going to (the University of) Utah. She thought the program there was exactly the type of family medicine program that was going to launch her career to help her be the type of doctor she really wanted to be.
SEH had an easygoing way about her and instantly connected with everyone regardless of where they came from or who they know or what they were there for. And that was true not only for her patients but for her friends.
(The vice dean of education at the UC-San Francisco’s School of Medicine, where SEH received her M.D.., as quoted in an article in the Salt Lake Tribune)

 

Today, University of Utah mourns the tragic loss of one of our bright young family medicine residents, SEH, MD.
Dr. SEH was a first-year resident who was focusing on continuing her studies in Family & Preventive Medicine.
Dr. SEH came to University of Utah Health from UC San Francisco to continue her passion of providing care to women and children in underserved communities. …Her adventurous spirit and love of learning will be missed by all those who knew her….. Dr. SEH always did a great job of connecting with her patients and understanding where they were coming from. She treated the whole person, and patients were always appreciative of her approach….
 SEH made it a priority to stay in touch with her family, constantly talking about them and always mentioning her love of family. At the same time, she was excited about the opportunities Utah offered to her, particularly the ability to spend time doing all the outdoor activities she loved so much. SEH was friendly, fantastic, and hardworking. She always gave everything her all.”
(statement from the University of Utah, as per a  KUTVchannel 2 report)

 

As a mutual friend said, ” It’s devastating that someone…could extinguish a light as bright as hers.”

 

*   *   *

During the past twenty-five years hundreds of articles in psychiatric journals have examined the homicidal mind. Fewer than a dozen have explored how a homicide affects the victim’s family.

The survivors of murder victims…even the counselors who work with survivors…what they have learned contradicts the way the rest of us would like to view the world. We want to maintain an illusion of safety…we want to believe that the children of good parents will never be harmed.

The grief caused by murder does not follow a predictable course. It does not neatly unfold in stages. When a person dies after a long illness, the family has time to prepare emotionally for the death, to feel an anticipatory grief. When someone is murdered, the death usually comes without warning…. 

In the days and weeks right after a murder the victim’s family is often in a state of shock, feeling numb, sometimes unable to cry. The murder of a loved one seems almost impossible to comprehend. Life feels unreal, like a dream. Survivors may need to go over the details of the crime…discussing them endlessly, as though trying to put together the pieces of a puzzle, struggling to make sense of it all. They tell themselves, “This can’t be true.”

(excerpts from “A Grief Like No Other,” Eric Schlosser, The Atlantic) 

“A Grief Like No Other” is a long article, weaving several strands into the larger garment covering the topic of the emotional journeys of families of murder victims. These strands include a “history of murder” (a relatively brief – considering the subject – tour of the history of adjudicating murder, and how societies’ treatments of such went from clan/tribal retribution to modern criminal justice systems) and the exploitation of murder by the entertainment industry, interspersed with sketches of the families who attend the support group POMC (Parents of Murdered Children), and a detailed recount of the aftermath experienced by one murder victim’s family.

These strands are interesting on their own, but that’s not why I am recommending that you read this article,  [4]  which was recommended to me via a network of friends…which provides a convenient segue as to my recommendation.  As the article states, A murder is an unnatural death; no ordinary rules apply. Thus, we who love our friends who have lost their loved one via murder need to be reminded, now and in the times to come, of the differences inherent in loss for those who have experienced the unspeakable.

Skim/skip the afore-mentioned “strand” parts of the article if you like, but please, read carefully – and, I would recommend,  [5]  often (to the point of setting whatever calendar reminders you use to do so in a regular basis) – the parts of the article which deal with the unique trauma and adjustments experienced by parents of murdered children.  It will not be the feel-good read of your week; still, nothing in your discomfort will compare to that experienced by the family, and the article may come close in helping you to understand what your friends are and will be going through.

 

*   *   *

 

Instructions

When I have moved beyond you in the adventure of life,
Gather in some pleasant place and there remember me
With spoken words, old and new.
Let a tear if you will, but let a smile come quickly
For I have loved the laughter of life.
Do not linger too long with your solemnities.
Go eat and talk, and when you can;
Follow a woodland trail, climb a high mountain,
Walk along the wild seashore,
Chew the thoughts of some book
Which challenges your soul.
Use your hands some bright day
To make a thing of beauty
Or to lift someone’s heavy load.
Though you mention not my name,
Though no thought of me crosses your mind,
I shall be with you,
For these have been the realities of my life for me.
And when you face some crisis with anguish.
When you walk alone with courage,
When you choose your path of right,
I shall be very close to you.
I have followed the valleys,
I have climbed the heights of life.

(poem by Arnold Crompton, Humanist educator)

*   *   *

 

 

May you love ’em while you got ’em;
May we all be each other’s “keepers;”
May you be awed and humbled by the wonder and ultimate transience of our lives;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] They live in the Bay Area.

[2] Whose name shall never, ever, be mentioned in this space.

[3] Which I searched for online. The story was picked up nationwide as a blurb, from the local (Utah) newspapers and TV news to The Washington Times and, holy crap, even People magazine online.

[4] Which was recommended to me, via friends MM and SM, who are also members of that (now) sad company of those who know and love SEH’s family.

[5] Because, as the article states, in such “unnatural” deaths, the ordinary rules do not apply. Even if we are not conscious of it, we all have some idea of how to do “ordinary” grieving. This is not to diminish our “ordinary” losses which can seem extraordinarily difficult at the time – e.g., the deaths of my elderly parents. Rather, the loss of a child by homicidal violence is (psychologically and physically proven to be) a very, very, different ordeal for the family, and most of us have no experience with that reality.

The Crackers I’m Not Passing

Comments Off on The Crackers I’m Not Passing

Earlier this week I watched Bad Reputation, the documentary about the career of rocker Joan Jett. ‘Twas entertaining, if somewhat of a puff piece, mostly glossing over the Serious Issues ®  that could have been brought up or just taking a closer look at her life and times.

Speaking of taking a closer look, I love that JJ’s still wearing her trademark Chuck Taylor high tops at “her age”  (just on the other side of sixty, as am I, on both counts   [1] ).

 

 

I’m also disappointed in another aspect of what she’s “wearing.”  With all of her proto-punk, I-love-rock-n’-roll, take no prisoners/kick-ass attitude, why, since the mid 2010’s, has her face morphed into that which resembles someone’s maiden auntie doing a Cher/Joan Rivers impersonation?

In verse three of Jett’s hit song, Bad Reputation, she snarls,

I don’t give a damn ’bout my reputation
I’ve never been afraid of any deviation…

Apparently, the one deviation Jett fears is that of saying fuck you to the seeming mandate that females in the public eye are not allowed to age naturally.  I wanted someone – a “rock journalist” or the documentary’s narrator…someone…to ask her about that.  I wanted a more careful, nuanced Q & A session, which would include getting her to address this conundrum:  one of rock n’ roll music’s most defining elements has been its take your status quo/expectations and shove it attitude, so why has Jett, a quintessential rock n’ roller, felt the need to have all the cosmetic “work” done on her face, including the obvious injections of a paralytic neurotoxin to mask evidence that she’s ever reacted to a “Three priests and two rabbis walk into a bar….” joke?   [2]

Isn’t that silly – that moiself could, maybe, even for a moment, imagine that happening? 

Probably also silly is me thinking a rock musician, particularly an LGBTQ one, as Jett is, should be more immune to societal expectations re women and aging.

The pressures on women re appearance have always been more intense, but there are male rockers who’ve also succumbed to the lure of the Frozen Face Fairy. Thus, in fairness, my Fantasy Inquisitive Rock Journalist ® must pose similar questions to Steven Tyler; Paul Stanley; Vince Neil, Rick Springfield, Ozzie Osbourne, Gene Simmons….  [3]

 

Botox, schmotox, mate! It’s me special bat-head collagen diet!

 

*   *   *

Department Of While I’m On That Subject….Something To Look Forward To

“In interviews, the first question I get in America is always: ‘What do you do to stay young?’ I do nothing. I don’t think aging is a problem….  Yes, my face has wrinkles. But I don’t find it monstrous. I’m so surprised that the emphasis on aging here is on physical decay, when aging brings such incredible freedom.
(Isabella Rossellini)

 

 

Moiself is usually suspicious of articles with titles like this one:  The Joy of Being a Woman in Her 70s (NY Times 1-12-19) by clinical psychologist Mary Pipher. Nonetheless, when I saw the headline in my Tuesday morning newsfeed, its opening paragraphs caught my attention. Truer words have rarely been published (my emphases):

When I told my friends I was writing a book on older women like us, they immediately protested, “I am not old.” What they meant was that they didn’t act or feel like the cultural stereotypes of women their age. Old meant bossy, useless, unhappy and in the way. Our country’s ideas about old women are so toxic that almost no one, no matter her age, will admit she is old.
In America, ageism is a bigger problem for women than aging.

 

*   *   *

*   *   *

Department Of Random Thoughts
While Hiking On The Cape Falcon Trail Last Saturday

When I am on a trail and hikers coming toward me (going uptrail as I am going downtrail, or vice-versa) pass by, certain hikers seem to be encased in an invisible “aroma bubble.” That is, there will be a faint but discernible and (almost always) pleasant fragrance which wafts across the trail in their wake.

Most fellow hikers just pass by (sometimes exchanging greetings) – other than hearing and/or feeling the vibration of their footsteps, if I were blind I would not be able to detect them. And yes, If I were blind I would still be hiking, with the support and guidance of my Guide Hamster.

 

 

 

 

Yet again, I digress.

Back to those fragrant females – did I mention that those tangy trekkers, whether solo or in a group, are always female and usually younger (as in, younger than moiself)?

It is not the smell of sunscreen which they emit; the scent is lightly floral or sometimes citrus-y, and causes me to wonder what kind of lotion/cream/deodorant/perfume they are wearing…or perhaps is it the residue of their shampoo and/or conditioner?  Then, just for a moment, I wonder what if any “fragrance” they detect from moiself as they pass by.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Picking Your Battles

I have previously mentioned in this space my friend, political/activist blogger who writes under the pseudonym, Spocko.  If you are interested in what I call Cognitive Behavior Therapy In The Form Of Rational Activism ® –  i.e., not just identifying and ranting about what’s wrong, but researching how things work and applying effective solutions – then Spocko’s Brain is the blog for you.

In his January 4 post,  “How to stop friends fighting over the 2020 President picks,” Spocko focuses on the importance of keeping one’s eyes on the prize, as the Democratic candidates start declaring for the 2020 race:

Watching the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination race start on MSNBC makes me weary. Friends tell me they dread it.
 One said, “Spocko, my brain will explode if we go through another campaign season like 2016!”
As someone who has had his brain removed I am strongly against brains exploding, especially ones on our side. So, how can you stop friends fighting and brains exploding?
Here is what I’m going to do:  Every time I see an online debate about Warren, Beto, Biden, Harris, Sanders or any possible Democratic presidential nominee I will stop and ask myself:
“What can I do stop the criminality of Republicans? What can I do to expose the anti-democratic institutions and organization they run? How can I de-fund and defeat the people and groups that made Trump, McConnell and Ryan possible?”

Check out Spocko’s Brain, sez moiself, for sound and sanity-preserving strategies.

 

 

 

Also, follow MH’s example and work for changes in our electoral system so that we never have another tragedy like that with which we are currently afflicted (the loser of the popular vote is “chosen” as President, due to our antediluvian Electoral College mess).  How can you work to see that every vote, in every state, will matter in every presidential election? You do know about the National Popular Vote bill (already enacted by 12 states and jurisdictions), don’t you?  If not, educate yourself (it won’t take long, as it is a simple concept) on what will insure that the person who actually wins the presidential election gets to be president, and lobby your state representatives to enact it.   [4]

*   *   *

Department Of Time Out For A Personal Message

A Close Personal Friend ® of mine says Happy 26th birthday to my nephew, KMV!

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Some Speculations Are Deeper Than Others

While hiking with MH on Oregon Coast’s Cape Falcon Trail and apropos of nothing, I began to wonder   [5]   about etiquette involving a (improbable, but not absolutely out of the question) dinner party scenario.

Setting: MH and I are hosting several new acquaintances for appetizers and drinks. These guests are known to us as being in “open” relationships (read: they each have multiple romantic partners). As I pass the basket of wheat thins around the table, would it be un-PC of me to ask,

Poly want a cracker?

 

*   *   *

 

May you practice sound and sanity-preserving strategies
in the face of the political seasons to come;
May you remember to fight ageism and not aging;
May you continue to find unique ways to pass the crackers;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] That is, I’m on the other side of sixty and still wearing Converse.

[2] Aka the Botox treatments…but y’all probably figured that out, right?

[3] Just Google their before and after pictures. Yikes.

[4] While it may seem piece meal, to have to do this state by state, it is actually more feasible than the cumbersome process of amending the Constitution of the USA.

[5] Time for another footnote?  Maybe not.

The New Year I’m Not (Yet) Reflecting Upon

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Department Of New Year, Same Old Mouth

Dateline: January 1: MH and I did a First Day Hike. Never heard of the FDH program?  Put it on your calendar for 2020. A lovely way to start the New Year:

On New Year’s Day, America’s State Parks have all 50 states offering free, guided First Day Hike Programs. These hikes provide a means for individuals and families to welcome the coming year in the outdoors….
(from the “First Day Hikes” website)

We signed up for the Elk Flats Trail hike, in Oswald West State Park.  We hiked on a frozen mud trail down down to the Devil’s Cauldron overlook where, on behalf of himself and his fellow rangers, our guide, Ranger “Jeff,” respectfully requested that we stay on the designated trails and not fall into the Devil’s Cauldron – which has happened before, most recently last year (and body retrieval is not one of Ranger Jeff’s favorite duties.). We then backtracked to the main Elk Flats trail which eventually led down to Short Sands Beach, where we got to see many more surfers than I’d anticipated, given the weather (sunny, but brrrrrrrrr).    The surfers were doing their own First Day Surf event, or so I liked to presume.

Ranger Jeff met MH, moiself, and ten other First Day hikers at the trailhead just before 8 am. It was very brisk, and as we waited for the departure time I was teasing Ranger Jeff about his (seeming) lack of preparation: The temp is just above freezing; where was his hat?!  Where were his gloves?! Ranger Jeff showed me his gloves and then his hat, which he had with him but had not yet donned. When he’d decided to wait no longer for stragglers (33 people had signed up for the hike; 12 of us showed up), he began fiddling with the Oregon State Park badge which was pinned to the front of his hat, just above the brim. He told the hikers gathered around him that a fellow ranger had told him to “Move the badge higher on the hat, because it makes you look dorky.”

The words were out of my mouth before I could stop them:  [1]

“Do you think just moving the badge is enough?”

 

 

 

I wonder, did the surfers get a pin?

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of It Seems To Be A Thing

People announcing (on Facebook of course) that they are quitting Facebook, that is.

Perhaps it is a New Year’s Resolution of sorts, for some folks. Reasons given include personal schedule management issues (aka, “the time suck”) but mostly seem to involve the Cambridge Analytical scandal and concerns about the way FB handles one’s (supposedly) private data, and also/primarily FB’s complicity in fake ads and other political manipulations by Trump supporters.

All of which I most certainly understand.  Moiself has also been… disturbed, to put it mildly, by the privacy breaches, political scandals, ad nauseum.  So far, the people (I know of) who have either announced their intention to quit FB (and/or other forms of social media) or who have already done so are all intelligent, empathetic, socially aware and generally Working-To-Make-The-World-A-Better-Place ® kind of folks. Which gets me to wondering….

 

 

Nyet, is never good thing, when dis comrade wonders.

 

 

Fucking Russian blog hackers.

Um…yeah. As I was wondering: what will that mean, for Facebook and its ilk, if those kind of people all (or mostly…eventually) leave? What will be left – the voices of Orwellian nightmares (War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength”) exchanging such “dialogue” with one another?

Will Facebook become another Fox “News”, where the fact that people who have intelligence/rational thinking/social awareness/compassion quotients larger than their shoe sizes generally boycott Fox News doesn’t matter to those who listen to Fox News, and thus Fox News listeners receive little input outside of that venue, and the Voices of Sanity have little influence re Fox News content and procedures?

I don’t have an answer here. Just another thing to wonder about in the new year.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Yet Another New Year’s Day Thing

As I have noted several times before in this blog, moiself always serves some version of black-eyed peas (aka Hoppin’ John ) and greens for New Year’s Day dinner. These culinary creations are prepared in homage to my father’s family’s logic-defying adherence  [2] to the tradition which told them that, by eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day, you assure good luck in the year to come.

 

 

 

This year I made a kinda-curried Hoppin’ John variation. I found moiself wishing I could invite The Ramones over to sample my version, which I was certain they would enjoy,  [3]  because as any Ramones fan knows,

There’s no stoppin’ the cretins from hoppin’

Make that, there’s no stoppin’ the cretins from eatin’ their hoppin’ (John).

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Cranial Effluence  [4]   Which Should’ve Stayed In 2018

Fee-fi-fo-fum,
I smell the blood of an Englishman,
Be he alive, or be he dead
I’ll grind his bones to make my bread[5]

Hold on to that bone-grinder, kiddies: dead is a perfect rhyme for bread, but “fum” does not rhyme with “man.”  Why isn’t it, Englishbum, or mum or rum or…a word appropriate for a mere mortal who is stupid enough to mess with a giant:

Fee-fi-fo-fum,
I smell the blood of an Englishdum-dum….

I know; none of this matters. But why, when a noise awakens me at 3 am,  [6]  is this question regarding a fairy tale rhyme fail on my mind?  ‘Tis hardly a matter of international, national, local, or even personal security, although it seemed compelling at the time.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Partridge  [7]  Of The Week

As per an earlier warning post, we will be hosting a different Partridge, every week, in our front yard’s festively lit pear tree. Can you guess this week’s guest Partridge?

 

 

 

Yes, this is a trick question.  Alert readers may note that this is the same Partridge as last week.  In respect to the one Partridge player who has passed from this mortal realm,   [8]   I thought he deserved a repeat week of hanging on our pear tree until we take down the rest of the Yule decorations.

*   *   *

May you never lose sleep over a fairy tale rhyme fail;
May you appreciate our dedicated and cute (and never dorky) state and federal rangers;
May you rest assured that in the coming year, as luck may come and go, there’s no stoppin’ the cretins from hoppin’…
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] To my chagrin, but to the obvious delight of my fellow hikers and, fortunately (for moiself), Ranger Jeff.

[2] They were dirt poor sharecroppers tenant farmers. That good luck meal thing failed, year after year.

[3] Three of the original four Ramones are dead, but for the purposes of this fantasy…just bear with me.

[4] That’s brain farts, for you delicate flowers.

[5] From the English fairy tale, Jack and the Beanstalk.

[6] A noise which might be the loud muffler of the paper delivery car, or a snoring spouse (just a random snoring spouse in the neighborhood – not necessarily mine), or ….

[7] In our pear tree.

[8] David Cassidy, who played Keith Partridge, died a couple of years ago.

The Meaningful Lessons I’m Not Learning

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Department Of I Moiself  Apparently Have A Very Different Standard
For Usage Of The Word, “Meaningful”

Copy from an ad in Thursday’s  New York Times Arts section,  [1] by Penguin Publishing, to promote their new book, Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life :

“Meaningful lessons from supermodel and philanthropist Gisele Bündchen.”

 

*   *   *

Department Of Answering Your Most Pressing Questions About
Post-Thanksgiving Dinner Personal Hygiene…    [2]

As the holiday season continues, many people would like to find an easy way to remove the noxious body odor which seems to linger after Thanksgiving. This tang du corpus can best be described as the effluence of a combination of bitter disappointments stemming from:

(a) the invading caravan of potato rolls lined up on your dinner plate, which you meant to stop at the border of your mouth when you realized it was headed for your waist line,

(b) despite having promised not to get into “such subjects” at the holiday dinner table, both your grandfather and uncle derided your political beliefs, then asked when you were going to get a real job…

 

 

 

 

…and you feel if you could just rest in the stress-soothing, steamy torrent of a hot shower, all would be well.

Think again.

Long, hot showers can combat the skin’s natural functions as a protective barrier and deplete natural oils from the surface while also stripping hair of its own protective oils and weaken your complexion altogether. Hot showers adversely affect the skin’s most outer layer, the epidermis, full of substances that provide a tough defense against outside conditions while retaining moisture.
Heat from hot water combined with soap will soften your skin and slowly strip away its natural, oily protective barriers. Some of this can good like removing dirt, sweat, or body odor. However, we want to keep in the skin’s natural moisture where possible and prevent dry or irritated, itchy skin.
Basically, the longer and hotter the shower, the worse it is for your skin’s health.
(“Why Long Hot Showers Are Bad For Your Skin,” metrin.com

 

 

“And I need to know this because…?”

 

 

 

Most dermatologists caution that even shorter daily showers are not only unnecessary but “bad” for you, in that daily bathing recudes skin hydration and strips the skin of its natural oils, which can disrupt the ‘good’ bacteria that supports people’s immune systems. According to infectious-disease expert Dr Elaine Larson from Columbia University, “most people bathe in the belief it will reduce their risk of illness, however, it actually does little more than remove body odor.”

But there is that pesky odor issue, which we (read: Americans) tend to be overconcerned with. Chill out; if it’s been a day since you showered, even if you’ve done a moderate aerobic workout you probably don’t smell as badly as you think you do  (unless the workout included doing your triathalon training lap swimming in a pool of dead herring).

 

 

 

So, what to do if you’re concerned about body odor (as young adults especially tend to be) after, say, a trip to the gym, and you don’t like the thought of skipping your shower? You need to learn how to give yourself a mini-sponge bath. If the term sponge-bath stirs up too much semi-comatose-person-in-a-convalescent-hospital imagery for you, just think of it as what I have for many years, after having being introduced to the term by an elderly friend: a whore bath.

 

This image may seem like a non sequitur, but do you really a want a picture illustrating the previous paragraph?

 

 

How to give yourself a whore mini-sponge bath: you need one clean towel for drying and three clean washcloths. Moisten each washcloth with warm water and use them to wipe down three key body areas, using a clean washcloth for each area. You’ll sponge-wash the three parts of the body that have the highest concentration of sweat glands per surface area:

(1) the under arms, (2) the chest, (3), and the groin.

Hmmm, now what was it that I was supposed to wash? Make it easy to remember by using the following jingle, which immediately came to moiself’s mind when I first read the whore mini-sponge bath instructions  [3]  :

“Pits, tits, and naughty bits.“

 

 

“Can you say that, boys and girls? I knew you could.”

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of My Nominee For The Nobel Peace Prize

Once again, the folks at Poo-pourri have outdone themselves with their new product advertisement, this time for what they call the “Assistant“.

Not only do I think Poo-pourri should win the Nobel Peace Prize,  [4] I also and hereby nominate them for a Clio Award for Best Advertisement Ever – in a tie, with their original product ad:

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of I’m Still Shaking My Head Over The Sublime Juxtaposition

Supermodel and philanthropist

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of A You Know What In A You Know What

A neighbor out for a walk, stopping on our sidewalk, pointing at the laminated picture hanging, along with colored lights, from the fruit tree in our front yard:

“Is that who I think it is, and is this tree…oh, please tell me it’s a pear tree?!?!”

After a hiatus of a couple of years, MH and I decided it was time to return to putting up outdoor Christmas lights, and the “bonus” hidden within, to our pear tree.  MH surprised me by going four better than my original setup: he returned from a trip to Office Depot depot with five laminated pictures of The Partridge Family members: Mom Partridge, plus all the kids except for the little drummer boy (there were two actors who played the part, and nobody really liked them, so, meh).  We decided Laurie could start out the week.

 

 

We’ve decided to do a rotation – a different Partridge, every week. Pictures will be posted here, for your viewing enjoyment.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Wishing I’d Been Kinder To A Partridge

The anecdote I am going to relate took place in the summer of (most likely) either 1971-1972, when The Partridge Family was new enough that its cast members were doing promotional appearances during the show’s summer hiatus.

For many years, my family’s summer vacation followed the same pattern: my father took no vacation days until summer, and then took ’em all at once: we hitched up our trailer  [5]   to our station wagon and headed north from SoCal.  Sequoia; Yosemite; The Redwoods; Crater Lake; Bryce; Zion; Yellowstone; The Grand Tetons – depending on the year, we alternated between visiting many of the West’s National Parks or just going up through Oregon and Washington, staying for a week or so at favorite campsites along the Rogue River, etc., on our way to visit to my mother’s older sister and her husband, who lived in Spokane (WA).

On one of the latter such itineraries we stopped in Seattle, because my parents wanted to see the Space Needle. Their kids, not so much…but we weren’t the ones setting the itinerary. It was a slow day; not many visitors, and the Space Needle employee who boarded us onto the elevator announced that the top deck (of the SN) was closed due to a private event. After the elevator door shut I think I pressed the button for that floor anyway – somehow, we ended up being able to go to that floor.

When we got off the elevator the floor was empty of tourists or other people, except for three adults and one adolescent who were milling about in the center of the floor, near a counter-bar setup of some sort. My parents and siblings wandered about the perimeter, trying to find a way to get out to the SN’s observation deck, while I sulked as only a 13 year old can (this is boring…can we go now).  I wasn’t interested in any stupid Space Needle, wanted to get back on the road, and besides, it was foggy – in Seattle! Imagine that – and you couldn’t see anything from the observation deck anyway.

I turned my attention to the other four people near that bar/counter. Two of the adults were just old men in suits, but why did the other adult and the kid look familiar? I quickly figured it out – the kid’s flaming red hair and freckles were a giveaway.  The adult was the actor who played Reuben Kincaid, the Partridge Family manager (the actor’s name was Dave Madden,) and the kid was Danny Partridge, the precocious/smart ass middle brother and bassist (played by Danny Bonaduce).

 

 

 

 

 

(The private event the elevator operator had told us about was a promotional tour for those two TPF actors; later on, when my family was exiting the Space Needle, I saw a black stretch limousine, parked at the curb by the SN’s front entrance, sporting a banner stretching across the driver’s side which read something like, “Meet Reuben Kincaid and Danny from the Partridge Family”).

The three adults (the Two Suite Men and “Reuben”) talked shop, while Danny, obviously bored out of his gourd, looked for ways to entertain himself. He hung upside down from a velvet rope barrier that snaked around the bar/counter area, then gradually made his way to where I stood, and attempted to engage me in conversation.  We were close in age – I later found out the age difference was about 2 ½ years although of course I considered myself much older than this…this what? Who was this jerk, trying to impress me because he had a role on a cheesy sitcom?  Puh-leaze…

I was determined to maintain my facade of jaded nonchalance. Although I didn’t turn my back on him I crossed my arms, grunted a few unintelligible responses, and generally made my body language as unwelcoming as possible until I found an excuse to rejoin my family.

These many decades later, I see the encounter for what it likely was: he was just a kid, stuck on a trip he probably didn’t want to go on, looking to relieve the tedium with…perhaps another bored kid around his age who was also stuck with uncomprehending adults (in his case, booking agents, in my case, parents).

And, so what if he had been trying to impress me? Would it have hurt me to humor him, to have joined in some banter…or simply to have been kind?

Decades later, after TPF was cancelled, Bonaduce became notorious for running afoul of the law due to various drug and alcohol problems. Yeah, it was probably my fault.

 

*   *   *

May you settle for philanthropy if supermodel just isn’t in the cards for you;
May you be kind o Partridges in and out of pear trees;
May you enjoy the bath that fits your pits tits and naughty bits;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] The placement of which ruined the crossword puzzle for me, gawddammit.

[2] Which you haven’t (yet) asked, but you know you want to.

[3] In a dermatology magzine, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, when I worked in the medical field.

[4] As well as being considered for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry and/or Physiology and Medicine.

[5] Looking back, especially in comparison with today’s rigs, it was amazingly small,  for a family of six.

The Nuts I’m Not Mixing

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Department Of Commenting On The Election Results

There was the good,   [1] and the bad, and the, We’ll see. Like the can my Aunt Gwen used to set out by the olive tray every Thanksgiving, it was….

 

 

*   *   *

 

 

 

Department Of How I Spent The Night Of The Election

*Not* watching the returns, but watching the movie, Dave. It’s one of my (and my daughter Belle’s) favorite political movies (yes, I do have movie categories, and political movies get a group of their own), with an appealing cast and a delightful (if admittedly goofy, far-fetched) plot and a hopeful ending…along with a heart-tugging performance by Sigourney Weaver as a determined, idealistic, and (understandably) bitterly lonely “First Lady.”   [2]

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Pipe Dreams

Dateline: a week ago Monday, after yoga class. Although it was too late for this (the next day’s) midterm election, I fantasized about organizing a nationwide demonstration – perhaps it should be called a presentation – outside of polling booths all over the nation.  The presentation would consist of a bunch of yogis standing by the polls (or ballot return boxes, for those states who have early and/or mail-in voting) doing vrikshasana ( “Tree Pose”), and/or other yoga poses requiring balance and focus and radiating a sense of calm.

That’s it.

I figure at least one blustery couple on their way to the polls would pause, take a look, then turn to one another and say, “Oh, sweetie, let’s not vote for assholes this year.”

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Who Does This, And Why

 

“The Mystery of the Cuckoo Bird Recycler has returned.”

It wasn’t the perfect analogy, but MH and son K understood what I meant.

Background #1: You may be familiar with the story of the cuckoo bird, which, as a brood parasite, lays its eggs in other bird’s nests.

Background #2: Wednesday is the trash and recycling pickup day in our ‘hood. When I return from my walk on Wednesday mornings, I check our glass recycling bin, which, along with the mixed recycling bin and our garbage can, we’ve set out for the morning pickup.  I check the glass bin to make certain that it contains only recyclable glass jars and bottles…which may seem like a silly thing to do, since we put it out the night before and after years of doing this we know what items go where.  But “we” are not the problem.

We’ve had a history of, every couple of months or so, finding items in the recycling bin that aren’t ours. Who cares, right, as long as the items will be going to recycling and are sorted appropriately?  But they are not, and that’s the problem.

 

 

It should be obvious that this is *not* the plastic duck decoy recycling bin.

 

 

 

 

It may seem funny (or obsessive) to you – as it does to me – that moiself feels the need to check the recycling bin for FOREIGN OBJECTS. The thing is, Mystery Neighborhood Cuckoo Recycler ®  has had a habit of putting items in the wrong bin.  I first discovered this several years ago, after the recycling trucks and come and gone and our full glass recycling bin was still by the curb, with an Official Notice ®  from the recycling service placed on top of it, informing us that they cannot take items improperly sorted…which means it will be another two weeks until they will pick up our glass recyclables bin.  [3]

I was confused, until I looked under the Official Notice ® . Sure enough, there were several empty tin cans someone had dumped atop the glass bottles and jars.  The glass recycling truck folks will not or cannot be bothered to simply take the cans out of the glass recycling bin and toss them in our mixed recycling bin. It would take maybe 10 seconds to accomplish that task…but, nope.  “Not their job.” They do have the time to go back to the truck and get the you’ve been a naughty recycler form and leave it in our recycle bin.

 

 

 

 

There is a tremendous size and color discrepancy between the small, four-sided, no cover, bright red, glass-only bin and the ginormous, gray, covered, paper and plastics recycling cart. We’ve been doing this for years; we know which is which.  Still, this thing – miscreant cans placed in our glass-only recycle bin, causing the recycling company to refuse to take our glass items – has happened several times. I know it wasn’t someone from our family who got the bins mixed up, as the cans have always been store brands from stores we don’t shop at and/or items we don’t use or buy.

The mystery cans stopped being dumped in our glass bin after I printed out a brightly colored form of my own, which read GLASS ONLY NO CANS and affixed it to our glass recycling bin.  I’ve still been checking on a regular basis, which is why this week I discovered three wine bottles which were not ours  [4], placed atop our recycle bin. At least the hitchhikers were in the correct bin this time.

I can imagine a neighbor thinking, for example, that they don’t have enough items to justify schlepping their bin at the curb this week so they’ll just add the odd wine bottle or pickle jar to ours.  On the one hand, it’s no big deal.  On the other hand… it just seems like they should ask us, ya know?  [5]

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Segue To Another Avian-Related Anecdote

No cuckoos that I could detect;  nevertheless, I was charmed by the sight of this bird-covered light post, shrouded in the morning mist.  I immediately thought of my Swenadian   [6] friend, who is an ornithophobe. Coming upon something like this would be her Alfred Hitchcock nightmare come true.  They’re waiting for you to walk by….

 

 

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Department Of Words And Phrases I Hope Are Never Applied To Me

 

☼  spry

☼  quirky

☼  feisty

☼  “Bless her heart…”

☼   “She means well…”

☼  such an inspiration

☼   a national treasure

☼   emeritus

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Department Of It’s Here

 

 

I’ve seen enough you-know-what decorations and merchandise in stores that I feel justified sharing my favorite song about the matter, the Dropkick Murphy’s deliciously subversive ode to the holidays:

 

 

 

 

 

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Department Of The View From The Floor

 

Sometimes, someone joins me during my morning stretches.

 

 

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Department Of , And My Response Would Be, “That Is What You’d Call It When They Finally Impeach #45, Aka The Tantrum Thrower-In-Chief.”

Dateline: Thursday am, I am exercising on one of those elliptical machines while listening to the podcast Serial, which, this season, is focusing on stories about the Cleveland criminal justice system. The episode I am listening to contains several mentions of when/why courts may try juveniles as adults, which causes MH to wonder aloud, “Do they ever try adults as juveniles?”

 

 

 

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May someone join you during your après workout stretch;
May #45 be tried as a juvenile, an adult, an irradiated alien….;
May you prepare a “presentation” of your own for the next election;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

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[1] Specifically, the GOP (Grumpy Old Pissants) losing the House majority.

[2] What a horrible, horrible title/role.

[3] Garbage pickup is weekly; recycling alternates other week, between yard debris and glass/paper/plastic.

[4] Varietals we don’t drink.

[5] As neighbors have done so in the past when they had extra garbage and wondered if we had space in our garbage can. We are always happy to help out in that case.

[6] Our friends, a Sweden married to a Canadian, refer to themselves and their (now-adult) children by this delightful ethnic hybrid.

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