Department Of Holy Mother Of Romulus And Remus –
I Saw An Effin’ Wolf
Dateline: Wednesday, circa 12:45 pm, Oregon highway 26, headed west (toward the coast), at about milepost 15 or 16. The movement from the north (right) side of the road caught my eye; in the micro-mico-millisecond it took me to register the movement I took my foot off the accelerator and thought,
Oh, great, a deer is about to spring across the road.
There was no springing. That micro-micro movement morphed into an elegant running creature, crossing the two-lane highway, a mere 20-30 feet ahead of me. The animal was the size of a deer but definitely not a deer; my mind immediately tried to register, “coyote,” except that I’ve seen plenty of coyotes running across roads (or fields) or loping on/crossing hiking trails ahead of me. This canid was the size of a deer and had long, thin legs and different body posture from a coyote (its long tail was horizontal to its spine, not tucked, as a coyote’s would be). I’ve never seen a canid run like that, the way it held its large, majestic head, so very upright, like one of those carousel animals….
Yes, moiself knows I am babbling right now, but holy fuck, this is the first wolf I’ve seen this close  and I am (still, two days later) gobsmacked. Oh, but for a camera mounted on my car’s front bumper!
There are wolves in Oregon. Many (but not all) of them are tagged (for tracking/ study purposes), and most live in the eastern part of the state, although wolves can and do roam…and a few of Oregon’s have roamed as far as So Cal . The one which crossed the road in front of me appeared to be heading toward Tillamook county…looking for a cheese fix, perhaps?
* * *
Department Of Life Is So Unfair
Yet another of life’s inequities to ponder:
If you donate a kidney, everybody loves you and you’re a total hero.
But try donating five kidneys and suddenly everyone is yelling
and the police get involved….
* * *
Department Of Sunday In The Park With George
Tuesday In The Park With Robyn
Apologies to the late Stephen Sondheim. I’m sure the opening to moiself’s blog would have been better if Sondheim had composed it, given the complex polyphony which was his style.  May we all take a moment to pause to remember and appreciate he-who-was-arguably among the greatest of American lyricists and composers.
And now, three vignettes of my Tuesday In The Park.
Dateline: Tuesday, circa 7: 15 am. Which way shall I go this morning? I decide to do the to-and-from to a light rail station which, given my circuitous route, will be a 3-3.5 mile jaunt. I take one of the trails leading through a neighborhood park, when what to my wondering eyes did appear
I pause to document the odd (to me) sight, then post the picture on my Facebook page, soliciting explanations:
“OK; what’s the story here? A fire extinguisher, about 25 yards from the nearest house, under a tree, in a bunch of wet leaves?”
There were some creative hypotheses. I liked my daughter Belle’s offering best:
“They were deep frying a turkey and forgot to bring that back in.”
Vignette the Second
Department Of Appreciating A Form Of Reasoning Which
Is The Process Of Drawing A Conclusion
Based On Premises Generally Assumed To Be True;
As In, Using A Logical Premise To Reach A Logical Conclusion.
Same morning walk, 20 minutes later: now the sun is trying to rise above the cloudy horizon. I’m taking a winding road through a neighborhood adjacent to the park, a road I traverse at least once a week on my way to the walkway which leads to the afore-mentioned light rail station. As moiself rounds a corner I exchange good morning greetings with a couple I have come to know by sight. They and their three canine companions are out for (what I assume is) the morning ritual of dog owners everywhere: that which moiself thinks of as the “P Five” – the Puppy People’s Predawn Poop Perambulation. ®
It appears my presumptions are spot-on. A the couple passes by on the other side of the street I notice that the (presumed) husband has two plastic bags of (presumed) doggie-doody swinging from a strap around his wrist.
Ain’t deductive reasoning grand? Truly, ’tis a cognitive process we often take for granted… until we meet a #45 conspiracy theorist who wouldn’t know the concept of deductive reasoning from his ass if it were wrapped in a MAGA hat and sticking out of a hole in the ground. 
Vinaigrette the Third
Department Of Later That Same Morning…
I have reached the station and am headed home. I am walking on a pathway near the athletic fields west of the station. Yet another dog-walking couple with whom I have an I Hi-there-we-pass-each-other-at-least-once-a-week relationship  are walking toward me. As we approach each other we all look skyward at the same time, toward the sounds of at least five different, low-flying, scraggly V formations of Canada geese, calling out to their comrades as they head southeast to…wherever.
The man points his finger upward and says,
“That’s a very nice sound, isn’t it?”
Moiself points to my rain-or-shine hat, then at their respective visors, and replies:
“Yes, it is.
And it’s very nice – and very smart – of us to have hats on
when we’re walking underneath flying birds.”
The three of us chuckle as we pass one another, our mirth punctuated by the sound of…uh, plops… from overhead landing on the grass on either side of the walkway.
Department Of Belated Content Warnings
Moiself just realized I missed the opportunity to apply a content warning to the previous segments: two of my three park vignettes involved a mention of shit “animal droppings.”
* * *
Department Of Kill Your Heroes
Dateline: a week or so ago, MH and I were discussing a recent podcast we’d both (separately) listened to, in which one of the stories presented involved an immigrant Chinese worker exploited by a railroad baron. We somehow segued to the subject of power, as in, having power over the lives of others, and how easy it is to draw lines and reach binary conclusions, particularly when we judge the wielding of power in the past. Railroad tycoon = bad. Chinese railroad worker = good.
It’s an interesting subject to ponder: how would the immigrant railroad worker have behaved if he’d been the one with the power? Perhaps he was downtrodden at work; what about when he returned home where, as a man in a patriarchal society, he had power over others simply by virtue of his gender? Would he have shared his power with his wife and daughters? Would he have encouraged their own dreams and aspirations, or subjected them to foot binding and/or denied them access to education as per the other cultural torture norms of his time and place?
No matter what our intentions, moiself thinks it’s healthy to keep a certain supposition in mind:  that most if not all of us may be just a couple of rungs on the authority ladder away from being the despots our descendants might denigrate.
Moiself remembers the less-than-positive reaction I have garnered over the years, when I’ve been asked the question, “Who are your heroes?” and I’ve replied, truthfully, “I have no heroes.”
There are historical figures whom I admire for specific things they did: causes they fought for, injustices they tried to right, etc. That said, I do not believe in having “heroes” because it seems that we – and by “we” I mean, every human being but moiself ( ahem, I mean of course, every human being *including* moiself ) – do not know how to apply perspective – that is, how to consider so-called heroic people for the flawed human beings they are.
Some great scientist will – someday very soon, I hope – discover the key to fixing global warming. But, years later when it is revealed that she was, say, consistently rude to waiters and others in the service industry and disparaged anyone whom she considered to be “beneath” her, our descendants will argue over whether or not such a practitioner of classism should have a high school named after her…and should the Nobel committee rescind the prize they bestowed upon her?
Early 20th century activist Margaret Sanger was inspired (in part by her own family history) to work to liberate women from early death and abject poverty due to their lack of bodily autonomy which consigned them to lives of serial breeding. Sanger withstood withering criticism, ostracization, imprisonment, physical attacks and threats to her life, from individuals and powerful organizations (read: the Catholic church) alike, not only for advocating birth control, but also for simply teaching women about their own bodies and reproductive cycles – which was illegal!
Sanger strongly believed that the ability to control family size was crucial to ending the cycle of women’s poverty. But it was illegal to distribute birth control information. Working as a visiting nurse, she frequented the homes of poor immigrants, often with large families and wives whose health was impaired by too many pregnancies, miscarriages, or in desperation botched abortions. Often, too, immigrant wives would ask her to tell them “the secret,” presuming that educated white women like Sanger knew how to limit family size. Sanger made it her mission to 1) provide women with birth control information and 2) repeal the federal Comstock Law, which prohibited the distribution of obscene materials through the mails, and regarded birth control information as such.
( “Margaret Sanger,” womenshistory.org )
Margaret Sanger also made some comments which, taken out of time and context, are used as a cudgel – particularly during political campaigns by conservative, anti-abortion Republicans – to discredit Sanger and to brand her (and, by association, Planned Parenthood and any organization supporting birth control and women’s reproductive autonomy) – as “racist.”
Sanger’s stated mission was to empower women to make their own reproductive choices. She did focus her efforts on minority communities, because that was where, due to poverty and limited access to health care, women were especially vulnerable to the effects of unplanned pregnancy. As she framed it, birth control was the fundamental women’s rights issue. “Enforced motherhood,” she wrote in 1914, “is the most complete denial of a woman’s right to life and liberty.”
That’s not to say that Sanger didn’t also make some deeply disturbing statements in support of eugenics, the now-discredited movement to improve the overall health and fitness of humankind through selective breeding…. She was, of course, not alone in this viewpoint: In the 1920s and 1930s, eugenics enjoyed widespread support from mainstream doctors, scientists and the general public.
( “What Margaret Sanger Really Said About Eugenics and Race,” Time, 10-14-16 )
What Margaret Sanger may or may not have thought about eugenics does not change her ground-breaking accomplishments in helping to unshackle generations of women from lives of compulsory brood mare-ism.
Likewise, Nelson Mandela deserves high praise for his tenacious fight against the immorality of apartheid. But if you elevate the man to a myth, you’ll be disappointed to find that your great moral hero sacrificed his family life to his causes (and expected them to do the same), did almost nothing to alleviate or even acknowledge the growing AIDS crisis in his country (he later admitted to being “shy” re talking about a sexually transmitted disease), and upheld and instituted economic policies which have kept poor South Africans living in much the same conditions as when they were under apartheid, while the country has had to live with “…growing insecurity, violence, and crime.”
The more you know about historical figures, the more material you will have for being disappointed in or by them. They were creatures of their time, as we are, of ours. Even the most prescient of us will be judged harshly by future generations.
So, admire the ideals and actions  of justice warriors – certainly! But just as certainly, never worship the creatures behind the causes. Don’t idolize *people;* do venerate the high *principles* for which those flawed people have fought.
* * *
Department Of A Blast From Christmas Past
Dateline: Southern California, in the late 1960s – early 1970s. For some reason, for a few years in the Westchester area of Los Angeles the “in” holiday décor was having a giant (as in, eight to ten foot tall) red wooden candle in your front yard.  I’m 100% sure how the fad began; I seem to recall my Uncle Joe telling me that some guy had made one for his yard, his neighbors admired it and he made some more for them, and then other home carpenters/crafty-types figured it out, and it took off from there.
When visiting our LA relatives (my aunt and uncle, Gwen and Joe Baker, and their five children) during the Christmas season my family would drive around their neighborhood at night, just to see the big ass candles. All of the yard candles had the same setup: a lone red candle, with a spotlight illuminating the candle from base to the top. At the base of the candle were wooden letters, painted white, spelling out the name of the family in whose yard the candle stood. In two or three cases I can recall, the word at the base of the candle was, “Noel” or “Yule,” but for 99% of the candles it was the family name.
Uncle Joe was quite the carpenter hobbyist (one of my favorite creations of his was a motorized wooden Santa and elves display that he put out on the rooftop, every Christmas). Joe constructed a Christmas yard candle for his family’s front yard, with their surname “Baker” prominently spotlighted. A few days after my grandmother admired her daughter Gwen’s and SIL Joe’s yard candle, Joe drove down to Santa Ana and installed, in my grandmother’s front yard, the candle he had made for her. Thus, Edna Gertrude Hole  became the only person in Santa Ana (as far as we knew) who had an eight-foot-tall red candle in her front yard with a spotlight illuminating her last name.
My grandmother left her yard candle up for that one holiday season. The day after Christmas she telephoned Joe and asked him to come and fetch it. The thrill wore off for her, the third or fourth night Edna Hole answered her doorbell – which had been rung by a person who’d been walking or driving by – and found herself listening to a total stranger sharing their concerns regarding her holiday décor: 
“Excuse me, I don’t want to embarrass you, but I think you’ve misspelled, ‘Holy.’ “
* * *
Punz For The Day
Q. Why did Wonder Woman stop checking her email?
A. Her inbox was loaded with Spamazons. 
If Iron Man and Silver Surfer teamed up, would they would be alloys?
Q. What does Peter Parker say when people ask him what he does for a living?
A. Web designer.
Have you heard of The Incredible Hulk’s new fashion line?
It’s all the rage.
* * *
May you see a wolf before you die (but not see it and then…die);
May you applaud the deeds and have forbearance for the deed-doers;
May your holiday yard décor provide confusion and/or entertainment
to passing strangers;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 The wild ones I saw in Alaska were much farther away, and the ones in zoos don’t “count.”
 Yeah, but could you hum along to it?
 Yes and obviously, I can mangle mix those metaphors with the best of them.
 But this couple has only one dog between them…which seems kinda stingy.
 This space does not need a footnote.
 Should, of course, those ideals and actions be truly admirable, as opposed to ill-considered, rash, or merely attention-seeking.
 And then, just three or four years after the fad started, no one put up the candles anymore. What happened?
 Yes, that was her real (married) name. She was born Edna Gertrude Moran; Hole was her husband’s family surname – apparently, it was prestigious name in the tiny Norwegian town they came from, but in America? No surprise it never occurred to my mother to keep her birth surname.
 I always wondered, why didn’t she just remove her family name, and keep the candle?
 That’s enough with the footnotes.