The entire experience of the China Virus has been unpleasant for everyone, but I found a headline in the Richmond Post unnerving simply because it voiced a thought in the back of my mind.
In the article Mark Jeftovic bravely confronts us with the balderdash we’ve had to endure for the past two years, with saved screenshots of the misleading misinformation we were given, and then he comes to the conclusion that we may be approaching a sort of tipping point, or breaking point, wherein the so-called “push-back” becomes so angry that it becomes savage.
In essence we were told millions would die unless we made pharmaceutical companies rich by taking their vaccine. However, millions didn’t die, and in fact more may die of the vaccine than died of the virus, especially among the young.
In other words, we were told we were doing something “for the good of the children” that actually killed children. That sort of “misinformation” does tend to rile people up, especially if it is their own child who died, (or even was only handicapped).
It must be faced that the heart strings plucked, when you utilize the verbiage, “for the good of the children”, are deep and potent heart strings. You don’t want to fool about with such heart strings. Mothers have been known to overturn cars to rescue their children, due to the sheer levels of adrenalin made available by such heart strings. Even tiny mother mice will attack tigers, to save their pink and hairless babies. Therefore, the thoughtless politician who deals with all matters from an attitude saturated in cynicism had best be wary of the “blow back” liable to arise if the vaccines turn out to be “bad for the children.”
And indeed, they do seem to have worse side effects than the virus itself had, for the young:
Should there be a notice above that YouTube has banned the above video, then this post will be like other times I’ve tried to share information. However, it seems the scientific evidence, and also the evidence the general public can glean with their own eyes, is causing the wall of censorship to crumble to some degree. (The very fact the above video survived longer than a day on YouTube raised my left eyebrow.) Truth can be denied only to a degree, after which the weight of the Truth gains the power of a glacier.
This presents certain doctors with a problem, for they have been exposed as being basically quacks. Certain pharmaceutical companies may be exposed as being basically snake oil salesmen. Certain politicians are in danger of being exposed as “against children”. And the mainstream media is in danger of being seen as “against Truth.” I imagine a lot of people are looking backwards, seeking “fallback positions,” because there is no way to go forward with their nonsense.
There still will be attempts to muddy the waters, of course. I found it a bit humorous, in a macabre way, that when a healthy athlete went into cardiac arrest after a blow to his chest on Monday Night Football, there were ten articles denying his taking the vaccine had anything to do with his heart attack, before even a single article appeared wondering if the vaccine might have affected his heart. The swift denial demonstrated what people are thinking, as extraordinary numbers of young athletes go down. The denial outlines an unspoken accusation. In fact, when you have to deny something before anyone even speaks it, it is a sign the glacier of Truth is pushing at your door.
In his article, Mark Jeftovic points out even the purveyors of panic porn have quietly deleted posts and erased tweets, hoping the web would forget, but it doesn’t. They did it. They did all but promise we’d see thousands die in our local communities, and that was bullshit. To be blunt, they’ve been fucking with us for two years. Now they are reaching a sort of expiration date on their bag of muffins.
Personally, I think they were not merely wrong about how effective their vaccine would be. I also think they were wrong about how effective their brainwashing would be. They judged the public to be a mass of gullible chumps, easily swayed and as easy to lead as lemmings over a cliff. This can have tragic consequences for those in power, when the pushback manifests itself as a Terror.
I don’t think we want to see that side of a revolution. Sadly, to some degree it seems to always occur. Even the American Revolution saw thousands of Tories uprooted from homes their families had lived in 150 years and sent wandering northwards from Boston to uncertain fates in Canada. And that was kindly, compared to the Terror of the guillotine in France, or the Terrors of purges in Russia and China and Pol Pot’s Cambodia.
There must be a pushback, but pray we find a way to get around the Terror. (Perhaps we only need to be honest, and tell the Truth for a change?)
With the holidays over, a certain dissatisfaction and restlessness seems to possess people. They can’t abide dullness, but days get dull. They must get back to work, must go back to school, must resume the ordinary, as if life became a gigantic Monday.
Actually, Monday should be a day we look forward to, as it should be the start of all the amazing things we shall see and accomplish. Sadly, too often it instead is a return to the banal, and some part of the human spirit rebels at this.
I first became aware of this post-Christmas quandary when very young. Christmas and New Year’s were over, my Dad went back to work, my older siblings went back to school, and my Mom went back to smoking her cigarettes, paying bills and doing other “desk work”, and to her Agatha Christi. I became very bored. So, I asked her, “Mom, does January mean Spring will be soon?”
She seemed amused. “Oh no,” she assured me, “Spring won’t be for a long time yet.” After a pause she followed with, “Did you think it was soon?” I nodded, which brought a look of pity, and also more amusement, into her young face. Then she simply slowly shook her head, whereupon I slunk away. The situation seemed deeply unsatisfactory to me.
As well it should have. Life is not worth living without the prospect of Spring, which is also known as Hope.
What seems to make life dull is when the Hope is delayed. What makes Monday so dull is that it is so far from Friday, which holds the Hope. The Hope is that you get a break from doing what you dislike, but on Monday such relief is farthest away. Unless…
Unless you do what you like on Monday. To some people this is an anathema, like having a beer for breakfast. But maybe they should try having a beer for breakfast every now and again. It certainly changes one’s attitude about Mondays.
However, there is no getting around the fact that sooner or later one must delay Hope, and do some mundane task, such as clear all the beer bottles from their breakfast table.
This recently became strikingly apparent to me because every ‘flu has a thing called its “duration”, which is the time it takes the virus to run its course in an ordinary mortal body. It varies from person to person and from year to year. As a thirteen-year-old boy I got clobbered by a ‘flu that laid me out for two weeks, but it’s been a while since we’ve seen a ‘flu as nasty as the Hong Kong ‘Flu. (For most people the China-virus was merely a bunch of chickens running around clucking that the sky was falling; IE: No big deal.) People have grown used to the comfortable concept that the ‘flu means they will be sick two or three or at most four days, and then bounce back onto their feet.
However, a nurse at a nearby “urgent care” facility is of the opinion that, for many, the current ‘flu has a duration of 14 days. She must constantly meet with parents who are deeply worried that their children are still sick after 7 days, and she must over and over tell them they may have as many as 7 days more days to go.
In other words, Hope is deferred. The Parent has dealt with the sick child Monday through Friday, but Friday is just another Monday, awaiting a further Friday.
You’d be surprised how badly some parents handle such reality.
Today a rather large father informed us that his child should stay inside because being outside made his child sick. We informed him that our Childcare is based on the premise that fresh air is good for children, and we lacked the extra staff to keep his single child inside. If he objected, he’d have to pick up his child. He promptly did so, explaining that fresh air might have been good when we were young, but now fresh air was bad, because of “Chem Trails”. Then he pointed up at a jet’s silver contrail creasing the blue sky above. That was his reason for his child taking “so long” to recover. As I said before, he was rather large, so I was not about to tell him he was an idiot, for his child was taking a perfectly ordinary amount of time to recover from this particular ‘flu.
It does not help matters that the greedy alliance between pharmaceutical companies, politicians, media and on-line-servers have made such a mockery of the Hippocratic Oath, (and such a great deal of money), promoting an untested and perhaps hazardous vaccine which does not work. Nor does it help that alternative cures were mocked by the media, banned by governments, and so heavily censored by YouTube, Facebook and Twitter that it prevented their effectiveness from ever being calmly discussed. The discussions did occur, but behind the scenes, and less than calmly.
This has created a growing group of parents who distrust all medicine, including the tried and true. When their children get sick, they fear using old fashioned remedies (tested in some cases by over a century of usage) which might lower the child’s fever, or reduce congestion, or make it easier for the child to cough up phlegm. This increases the child’s discomfort, and also increases the chances of secondary infections such as pneumonia, (in which case the parent likely distrusts antibiotics). By denying themselves the relief of tried-and-true medicines, the 14-day-duration of the current ‘flu becomes all the more miserable.
Fortunately, we are seemingly starting to finally see the end of this particular ‘flu. But it has been like a long and prolonged Monday. Nor can I claim to have been above it all. When I failed to bound back after only two days, I decided I had “aged” due to ‘flu. (And also due to the common cold and the latest version of the China-virus, which proceeded ‘flu in my case. I survived the onslaught, but I’d run out of excuses for dogging it. It must be old age catching up to me.)
I actually still had the ‘flu, but told anyon who’d listen to my complaining that the reason I walked so slowly, and huffed and puffed so much, was because I had “aged greatly”. But then, after 14 days, I noticed I wasn’t so “aged'” anymore, at the same time I noted first one, and then another, four-year-old boy at my Childcare was walking slowly and huffing and puffing like an old man, even after their parents felt they were “better”.
What the experience drove home to me was how impatient people are, including myself. We want to be better now. Right now. To wait until Friday seems a terrible suffering. To wait 14 days? Far too much to bear! And to wait 120 days until Spring arrives? Forget it. We want something right now. Right now.
What people then usually get, around here, is a blizzard. That provides a wonderful distraction from all the moaning and groaning. Simply surviving the debacle distracts people from how bored they were. It is hard to be bored when you need to shovel a half hour simply to find your car.
It is interesting how radiant people become, as they battle. At the local market eyes sparkle, as they gossip of all the adventure which they experienced getting to the market to buy milk. (Sometimes they chatter so much they forget to buy the milk.)
Somehow life is not a gigantic Monday anymore.
However, the blessing of such a blizzard hasn’t occurred yet, which seems to me a blessing in and of itself. First, we needed to get through the blessing of the ‘flu, which was a sort of calamity like a blizzard, albeit within a different dimension.
It might have been interesting to see how local folk would have reacted to both the ‘flu and a blizzard. Certainly it would not be a dull Monday.
However, the powers that control weather apparently felt people deserved a break, and storms which might have “bombed” on top of us waited until just past New England before “bombing out”.
Indeed, we just ducked the bullet yet again. Here is an Atlantic Map, made for people who have to sail the North Atlantic, and it shows the feeble low which passed over New England with nearly calm winds blowing up to a storm with hurricane force winds, just far enough away to allow the ignorant to be blissfully unaware how lucky they are.
However rather than counting our blessings and realizing how lucky we are, we mortals too often mope about how dull things are. Or at least I do. There is a part of me that still yearns for the botheration of a blizzard. I’m old enough to know better, so often I check myself, and do count peace as a blessing, but I still recognize a part of me that yearns to make trouble, and looks at the above map and wants to sail out to check out that storm.
And this always reminds me of an old man I met up in Maine in the 1970’s who did sail out into the storms of the North Atlantic. I’ve likely told this tale before, but I’ll end this post by telling it again.
He’d grown up in the Great Depression, when the little local shipyards grew shabby due to lack of ship-building, and some were basically shut down. When there was a job, the job was done slowly and carefully and was a job well done, because there was no rush, for there was no other job to do after the current job was done. But then everything changed in a hurry. Suddenly every boatyard had something that hadn’t been heard of in years, a “backlog”.
What had happened was that Hitler had decided to starve England into submission by torpedoing all the ships that supplied England. Although the United States was not officially at war with Germany, we supported England, and began to try to build ships as fast as Germany could sink them. Germany was so good at sinking ships it was a struggle to keep up with them, but it was not merely a strain on America’s economy; it also strained Germany’s to the limit. It was war before it was declared.
All of this was exciting to a young man who had grown up in a small, sleepy Maine port whose little shipyard had been close to dormant. Suddenly ships of all sorts were being built as fast as possible. Quality was not as important as quantity, and many of the boats were not state-of-the-art ships built for a Navy wanting superiority in a fight, but were tubs, with a top speed of 13 knots, built to overwhelm the German’s capacity to sink ships.
Indeed, it must have been bad for German morale when publicity stunts were pulled off to show how swiftly a boat could progress from laying the keel to launching. The record was four days, for a Liberty Ship. It is fairly obvious such information would ordinarily be top-secret, and it was only released to depress the heck out of the Germans, especially the Germans who risked their lives to sink a Liberty Ship. It was like knocking a fellow’s teeth out and seeing him grow a new set even before the end of the round.
Being part of such a ship-building effort was exciting for a while, to a high school teenager on the coast of Maine, but soon it started to seem too much like work. He desired action. He wanted to head out in the tubs, and see all the excitement. So he joined the Merchant Marines and got his wish. Off he went in a wallowing tub into the storms of the North Atlantic.
All too soon he was sick of excitement. But first he was mostly sick. The tub he was on wallowed terribly from side to side, with the deck steeply pitched one way and then the other, so that he was never sure if the ship would completely capsize to the left or to the right. It never did actually capsize, but he was so seasick he wished it would, to end his misery.
Even after he got his sea-legs and the horrific nausea faded there was an ever-present sense of danger. Wolf packs of German submarines attacked and sent convoys into organized chaos, with tubs scattering left and right as destroyers raced like sharks and depth charges thudded, as night skies glowed orange from the burning oil of ships that were sunk.
Sometimes ships sunk without any reason the men knew; later it turned out they were poorly designed, and a metal fatigue set in when the waters grew especially cold. Steel sheets on the ships sides simply split; the ocean gushed in; and the ship was gone.
Lastly there was the awareness that your life didn’t really matter much; the convoy’s progress came first, and if you were swept overboard there would be no turning back to look for you. This was an unnerving thought on a ship that wallowed so badly that waves often came crashing onto the decks during storms. And our hero’s ship was so badly designed that there was no way to travel below decks from the bow to the bridge; one had to cross a section of open deck. (If there was a companionway it was likely packed with crates, for such ships were notoriously overloaded in the urgency of those times.)
And so there came a storm when our teenager was ordered to go do some vital tasks in the bow despite hurricane force winds and waves stampeding over the decks. He managed the trip to the bow by clinging for his dear life to a railing when waves crashed over him. He was not so lucky on his trip back from the bow, because the railing he was clinging to broke off the ship.
Plunged into the freezing sea, his instinct was to swim upwards for air, but, when he broke the surface, he knew his life was over. The side of the ship loomed high over his head and was sliding away. A confused jumble of thought filled his shocked brain, including the thought that he was foolish to ever want “to see action”, but, apparently, he did stop cursing long enough to cry out for help, well aware the only one who could hear him in the screaming wind was God.
Then the ship, which had wallowed far to one side, wallowed to the other side, and the youth very quickly was not looking up at a deck high above his head, but was looking down at the deck from a wave crashing down on the deck. He hit the deck so hard his arm was broken, but he landed right in front of the doorway to the bridge. He scrambled up, yanked the door open, swung inside, and slammed the door shut behind him. Then he turned to face crewmates who apparently found his facial expression amusing.
In any case, the teenager learned dullness is not all bad. He no longer wanted to escape his sleepy town, and even felt a nostalgia concerning how dull it was at home. And eventually he was lucky enough to live through the war, return to the little town, and live there raising a family. Then he eventually met me. He likely recognized a restlessness in me, which was why he told me the story.
But now I am older than that man was, when he told me the story, and I’m still restless. Not that I much want to budge from my armchair by the fire, but, in my armchair, I like to read of those who were restless and found trouble to get into. And maybe, just a little bit, I still want to get into a little trouble myself. Why? Because hidden in the hunt for trouble is a search for a sort of Springtime. And, as I said back at the start, “Life is not worth living without the prospect of Spring, which is also known as Hope. “
When the long, white road of winter's laid out
Before me like a carpet weaved from bleakness
And the sharp sun digs blue shadows, my stout
Heart grieves and my knees know their weakness
And it seems wise to just swerve to the side
And dive in a drift and to gladly die.
Why endure? Is it not my stubborn pride
Lashing me on? Why persist with this? Why?
But it is then I hear faint echoes from
Valleys I can't see, and hearing compels
Curiosity, and though cold and numb
I go on searching for those distant bells
Of a caravan ready to depart
To a Holy Land we've seen through our heart.
My little town has been enduring a triple whammy since Thanksgiving. It consists of whatever the latest variant of the China-virus is called, plus the common cold, plus this year’s ‘flu, (which this year’s ‘flu-shot seemingly failed to make people immune to.) Along with a double whammy of a heavy snowstorm followed by a heavy rainstorm and floods, it created a Grinch which tried but failed to keep Christmas from coming. Christmas came.
I was so exhausted I didn’t much feel like going out on Christmas eve. I just wanted to just sit by the fire and remember. Yet I was very glad I allowed myself to get dragged out to a candlelight concert on Christmas Eve. It wiped the grumpy look right off my face. Music has a magic greater even than a warm fire’s.
This is not to say we do not have our limits. My wife is a gifted giver, especially around Christmas, and it was like pulling teeth to get her to admit she had the ‘flu and belonged in bed. Actually I didn’t persuade her. Her own body did. Nausea makes it difficult to be a good hostess.
We had lots of grandchildren visiting and every bedroom filled, and then the kids began keeling over like dominoes. However dominoes don’t bounce back, and the kids seemed to recover in roughly twelve to eighteen hours, so we tended to only have one wailing as the other five (all six of the smaller ones are under five-years-old) joyously bounced off the walls. Also fortunate was that there were always several adults hale enough to take the little crew outdoors, and enough snow left to sled upon. Some were from places where it hasn’t snowed yet, and I had a sense “Grampa’s House” will someday have a mythical quality in their memory’s, simply because the hills of New Hampshire had snow.
In any case, the Grinch couldn’t stop Christmas from coming. It came. And then, it went. This always brings down silence like thunder. My house is never so quiet as it is just after the kids leave.
And then? Well, in my opinion then it is then time to sit by the fire and soak up some well deserved rest. Nibble an eraser, get dreamy, and write a sonnet. However in my wife’s opinion it is time to face the New Year, and make some resolutions. This does tend to result in some disagreement. My plan to be lazy poetic doesn’t always go over well, but this year, somewhat to my surprise, my wife saw some sense in it.
I suppose it is helpful when a certain element of absurdity is added in, and the very ones, whom one would ordinarily gladly give to, ask for a little too much, at exactly the wrong time: The drama-queen daughter wants her dishes washed because her children are sick and she hasn’t recovered, when you yourself have just managed an entire holiday household at far less than fifty percent; or an elderly mother with poor eyesight calls up at nine at night all a-tither because she can’t find her wallet (which is under a newspaper on her table) and she wants all her credit cards cancelled; or the employees you hire to help you all call in sick and all need help, just after receiving their Christmas bonus. One wants to get grumpy and say, “Wait a cotton picking minute here! If we’re the ones helping, shouldn’t we be the ones getting paid?”
Or at least I think that way, because I can be a Scrooge even around Christmas. However, it doesn’t even seem to occur to my wife to think that way. She could be in the middle of a shower, and if her cellphone jingles with a text asking (or hinting) for help, she seems likely to rush off with soap in her eyes. I can’t really be angry at her for being such a saint, but sometimes I confess I’d like to shoot her cellphone. Instead I tend to point out the absurdity, and laugh.
And this year she sat by the fire with me and laughed. Enough’s enough. After excessive go-go-go there comes a time to stop. One needs to resolve to be irresolute.
You can't step on the gas when the pedal
Is already floored. Sometimes a "can-do"
Attitude's absurd. One wins no medal
For collapsing exhausted. Yes, it's true
That God wants us to smile and put aside
All greediness, and to cheerfully give,
But we must also put aside our pride
And confess we're mortal. Mortals cannot live
Without water. We face limits. God can
Raise the dead, but we mortals shouldn't brag
We can do such things, for that's the will of man
And not God's will. If we try it, we'll sag.
It's best to sit silent, for then you may hear
The Will that makes weariness disappear.
While being rolled down a hospital corridor in a gurney on a Thursday evening early last February, it occurred to me that sometimes avoiding stress can be a stress in and of itself.
It reminded me of when I was a kid and would try not to think of my tongue. The more I tried not to think of my tongue, the more I noticed it. The more I tried to position my tongue in a place where I wouldn’t feel it, the more I felt it. It would just about drive me mad, and it took a supreme act of distraction to break my mind free.
The same sort of thing can happen at my Childcare, when I get some children’s-song stuck in my head: “Good morning! Good morning! And how do you do? Good morning! Good morning! I’m fine. How are you?” To an advanced poet of vast learning like myself, having such drivel repeating over and over and over again in my brain blotched my sense of dignity. It required a serious antidote. Whisky got expensive, so I tended to resort to a sort of spider-solitaire on my computer that allowed one to reverse moves when losing became apparent, and to attempt a different course of action, and to eventually “win” the game, though on a few occasions I’d have to back up and try over again a hundred times, and “winning” took over a week. The intense concentration involved got my mind off everything. I called it “zoning out” and it had its benefits, but my wife could become exasperated when I “zoned out” too much. Eventually I decided “zoning out” had the traits of an addiction, and was as bad as whisky, and I erased the game from my computer.
Ever since I’ve been in a sort of withdrawal. I work too much. I can’t get my mind off what needs to be done next, and on a farm, especially an old rundown farm, the work is endless. A thing I call “the list” gets stuck in my head, like a song. The struggle then becomes to avoid burnout.
That is the point when “relax” starts to appear on “the list”. However, it is like writing down, “Don’t think of your tongue.” You can’t relax when you are uptight about relaxing.
This issue gets exacerbated by aging. On one hand you can’t work as fast, while on the other you are running out of time. When younger, “running out of time” meant I’d work faster, but when you get older there is no such thing as “faster”. When younger I would drive myself and chain smoke, but now I’m paying the price for all the smoking I did when younger. Due to compromised lungs, it takes little to make me huff-and-puff, and I’m forced to pause. I don’t want to sit down though. Another attribute of aging is that limbs stiffen up swiftly, and if you sit down, you may find it hard to get up again. Therefore, the trick is to “pace yourself”, and to simply stand and wait until you catch your breath, and then work until the huffing-and-puffing begins again. In other words, it is still possible to drive yourself. You’re just a lot slower about it. What this means is that, even when it looks like you are relaxing, you are not.
The thing you have to do, as you reach-your-limit at a point where less work is accomplished, is to do a wonderful thing called “delegate”. I always found delegating hard to do, as I am a do-it-yourself type of person. I found it hard to ask for help, (or even to ask girls to dance, many years ago.) (The only “asking” I managed when young was the now nearly-forgotten art of hitchhiking.) However, over the years I slowly learned how to ask for help, and to reward the good people who helped me, until (with much help from my wife) I became a small businessman with an actual “staff” of helpers.
But then a madness hit our nation, which is in some ways a fierce war everyone is pretending isn’t happening. I see it as a war between Globalists and those who believe in what the United States stands for.
If one bothers to read the Constitution and Bill of Rights, the United States is very clear about what it stands for. Globalists, not so much. But, as best as I can tell, Globalists feel there would be no war if there was only a single government, and even that there would be no disagreement, if there was only a single government. Preposterous, I think. It is like saying marriage wouldn’t have any arguments if there was only a single spouse. It might be intellectually true, but it is stupid all the same.
The stupidity of Globalism strikes me as similar to the stupidity of communism, which has brought great misery to beautiful people and beautiful lands, wherever it has been tried. I’ve studied those disasters, and I notice a great difference between the way the Founding Fathers of the United States and Communists regarded small businessmen like myself. Thomas Jefferson stressed the importance of what he called “independent small farmers and artisans”, while communists loathe such people and deem them a “counter-revolutionary petite bourgeoise” which must be purged to make society healthy.
To me it has seemed that the ridiculous pandemonium called the “coronavirus” has in some ways been aimed at ruining small businesses (as well as small churches and small schools). Nothing about the “lock-downs” made the virus less lethal, but it did bankrupt many businesses (and prevent worship and learning.) The intent of the “lock-downs” increasingly seems malevolent, and people who say so out loud no longer sound so much like crazy people lost in conspiracy theories, (which may be why the censorship of such voices is increasingly desperate).
I like to think I am one of the “small, independent farmers and artisans” that Thomas Jefferson liked, and also one of the “Kulaks” whom Stalin despised. This blog describes one man’s view of enduring (and hopefully surviving) what seems like an effort to irradicate individual effort and replace it with a sort of “collective” mentality. One element of this attack seems to be aimed at making it harder for small businesses to find help.
One frightening attack on the supply of labor is the problem of Fentanyl. Even when the Coronavirus closed churches I was part of a small group which went right on meeting, (sort of under the radar), and the purpose of this group was to be a sort of AA for the addicted, and at one these meetings a young man told me a story that shocked me. He said he had to comfort his mother, because she was upset when she had to attend her first funeral of a classmate, and she, in the blindness of her grief, had moaned, “You don’t know what it is like when the person who has died is not an old-timer but instead is your own age.” He responded, “Mom, I do know what it feels like, for I’ve been to thirty-two funerals for people my age.” This opened my eyes to the fact we are midst an actual war, with our youth actually dying.
Another attack on the supply of labor was to offer coronavirus “benefits” which made it more lucrative to be unemployed than to work. I’m glad such seductions weren’t around when I was young and loved leisure, for I found it hard enough to push myself to work as it was; (asking for a job was as hard as asking a girl to dance.) I don’t blame any young person for taking the higher-paying “job”. Why should a young person work a job that pays $300/week when the government pays $600/week for sloth? In a sense the young were being bribed from the world of “small farmers and artisans” to join the “collective”, and the Swamp could afford such a non-productive strategy by simply printing money, with all the inflationary dangers that entailed.
In any case, right when I needed help, help was harder to find. Right when aging increased my limitations, and I could do less, I had to do more myself. My wife and I, on a regular basis, talked about simply closing our Childcare, but we couldn’t really afford to. Also, I felt like I was in a war, and closing my small business would be letting the bad guys win. I had the desire to go down fighting. And so, during the two years we’ve been fighting the coronavirus war, this blog has inadvertently been a recorded history of how free people respond to tyranny.
For me the response of free people has been to find a way to keep right on doing what free people do, in a way under the radar (and under the table) of new rules and regulations. If school is outlawed, homeschool. If church is outlawed, hold many “small groups”. If church suppers are outlawed, hold smaller suppers. If restaurants are closed, find a way to order special food and tip highly. If choir practice is banned, record an online choir of a hundred, separate, “socially distanced” voices, and use virtual technology to combine all the voices and blast a mighty chorus, bigger and better than before. (Some of these “virtual choirs” are utterly amazing, and also represent a spiritual form of counterattack.)
The war we are within is a bizzarre war. It is an invisible war. It is a war that small businesses like my own may be winning. The communist mentality never expected such a pushback. They expected that when they shut schools, I would close my Childcare. My militant counterattack was to tell them “Go f— yourself” and remain open, without masks or vaccination mandates. I was very warlike, but why? Because I was and am kind to small children. (And they are not.)
However, some do die in a war. It is what makes war be war. Though people sung “When Johnnie comes marching home again” as soldiers marched off to our last Civil War, every graveyard in New England attests to the fact many Johnnies never came marching home. Their bodies are not in the graveyard. Their bodies are buried far away. But monuments covered in lichen attest to their sacrifices. Not only the bad guys die, in a war.
Usually, it is the young who are the cannon fodder, but in this bizarre Civil War it may also be the old. I thought of this when, rather than protecting the elderly, New York’s Governor Cuomo imported coronavirus patients into elderly housing, even when Trump made hospital ships available. The infected victims did not need to enter assisted-living facilities. The elderly should have been protected, but Swamp did the exact opposite of what should have been done.
This stupid choice shortened the lives of tens of thousands of senior citizens who deserved better. Some of these elders may have been senile and might have had little wisdom left to offer, but even these deserved better than they got. Other elders had many years left to live and were as sharp as tacks yet were banned from even seeing their own family. Meanwhile the Swamp saved a lot of money, because treating such goodly elders in the kindly manner (which elders had worked long and hard to pay for [and had in fact earned]) cost the Swamp at least $100,000/year. If you have 10,000 elders die of the coronavirus you therefore have saved the Swamp a billion dollars. When money talks, compassion walks.
Money has never been able to talk to me in that manner. I grew up in a wealthy town and know how hollow the core of wealth can be, and how marrowless is the bone. Not that money is evil, but love of money is evil. It takes the “love of money” to think that killing 10,000 of our smartest citizens (and depriving them contact with their loved ones even as they die), results in any societal “good”. It only “makes” a billion dollars from murder. What could be eviler? What could be more an “act of war”?
It wasn’t merely New York that “accidentally” imported coronavirus into the very places which should have been most protected. Massachusetts made a billion, New Jersy made a billion, and you could go on from there. Call it genocide or senior-ocide, I call it disgusting and an act of war.
What a joke it is that, in such cases, rather than the young being cannon fodder, it is the old geezers like myself who may go down, in this idiotic war. But there have been days I confess I don’t get the joke anymore and fear I myself may become a casualty. I’ll be just one more closed small-business. Just like the little, nearby restaurant run by a grandmother. Another empty store-front, killed by the Swamp. I’ve read that 40% of all restaurants in New England have closed, to prevent the spread of a virus by using a strategy which scientists knew from the start wouldn’t work, as the virus kept right on spreading.
My hope is that, with so many restaurants closing, there must be a lot of waitresses who might be inclined to work at a place like mine. I’ve always liked waitresses because they work for less than minimum wage, with the expectation “tips” will make up the difference. They believe if they are kind others will be kind in return. That is so much nicer than communism, and indeed is more Christian than some Christians I know, though many waitresses profess to being Atheists or at least Agnostics. In any case, I do have hope.
But in the meantime, I have to work with a depleted staff though I’m getting too old to be working so hard. And I confess I may not have what it takes. I do like the idea of dying with my boots on, and if it happens, I figure I’ll just be a battlefield casualty. Just a statistic in this invisible war.
Winters are hard this far north, and the past one tested me a lot with frozen pipes and failing heating systems and gloppy, heavy snows I had to remove from driveways and fire-entrances. With January past and the maples feeling the first stirrings of sap, I felt I’d done a decent job, for an old geezer, and gave myself a pat on the back. As February began, I thought I had, at long last, arrived at a morning where I could sit back and write poetry. All was ordinary at first, until I went to use the toilet and noticed the water in the bowl was not clear, but gray. I questioned my wife, “Why is the water gray?” She said, “I don’t know, but the toilet made a funny sound.”
I was very annoyed, and griped, “What the heck did you do?” As if it was her fault. When I turned on the bathroom sink faucet the water shot out like a firehose and shifted from clear to jet black to clear to jet black again. Foolishly I repeated, “What did you do?”
As I headed to the cellar she got in my way, inquiring “Why must you always blame me?”
I gently removed her from my path, apologizing, and saying “Something’s gone wrong.”
In the basement I brushed the spiderwebs from the pressure dial, and saw it pegged out at 120 psi, when the system is supposed to run between 40 and 60 psi. I hurried to the circuit breaker and shut off the well-pump. Then I went upstairs and ran the faucets until the pressure resumed normal levels. I decided the black water was because the extreme pressure cleaned the inside of the pipes, for it stopped happening when the pressure dropped. Then I went down to the cellar to look at the pressure switch, and saw it was burned out. Fried. Lucky the house didn’t burn down. It had melted into an “open” position, so the well pump didn’t stop pumping, and the pressure kept rising and rising.
Fortunately, pressure switches are easy to replace. You basically disconnect a couple wires, screw out the old switch from the pipe, screw in a new switch, and reconnect the wires. You can call a plumber, who will charge you $360.00 to do a ten-minute job, replacing a $20.00 part. Or you can do it yourself. As much as I would have liked to “delegate” the job to a plumber, it seemed once again I should “do it myself.”
This was not the stress-free morning composing-a-sonnet I had planned, However, as “relax” was on “the list”, I relaxed driving twenty minutes to the hardware store to buy the $20.00-part, relaxed chatting with an old friend at the store, and then relaxed driving twenty minutes back.
There are worse things to be stuck with doing than driving through snowy New England woods. I kept the car radio off, to avoid disturbing news, and instead had a private talk with God, involving some intimate things which are nobody’s business, but some things I feel free to make public. Namely, “Why, Lord, do you make Your creation so beautiful, and winter woods so full of poetic images, and yet never give me time to write poems?”
Back in the cellar, though the PSI gauge read zero, I shut the valve on the pipe leading upstairs to keep water in the pipes from flowing down to the cellar. Only then did I remove the pressure gauge. The instant it was removed a jet of water spurted into my face, and I struggled to screw it back in, which stopped the spurting. Then I had to think how there could be pressure when the well was shut off and no water could flow from upstairs. Coffee time.
My wife looked at me hopefully as I emerged from the dirty old cellar, and her face registered the fact I looked a little like a drowned rat. She wisely said nothing, and I didn’t look at her, because even a hint of a smile at the corner of her lips might have set me off. (Not that I failed to see the humor in the situation. I just wasn’t ready to laugh.)
I slumped morosely by the woodstove and sadly glanced at my open notebook. Not so long ago I’d been starting a sonnet, and at that time could see the entire thing even as I began. It was loaded with internal rhymes, and I had all the rhymes at my fingertips, as well as the rhythm. It began:
Lord, put Your foot down. But just not on me.
I think it is best that You manifest
And halt this world's insanity. Set free
You’ll have to trust me. There was more. However, the sonnet now was like Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan”. Coleridge saw the entire poem in a dream and arose to write it, but some bothersome interruption knocked at his front door, and when he extracted himself from the chitchat and returned to his writing, the vision was gone. Utterly. He couldn’t even pretend he could write another line. All we have is the fragment; a great start to a poem which is but a might-have-been. And the above is the start to a great sonnet which is but a might-have-been. Only in my case it was not an unwelcome visitor knocking at my door. It was a malfunctioning pressure valve, and water spurting in my face.
It is hard to concentrate on poetry when you get hit in the face by a jet of water. It is even harder when your wife can’t even use her kitchen sink. It should be obvious why I forgot the rhyme to “manifest.”
In any case, I did enjoy licking the wounds of irony. I’d asked the Almighty to put His foot down. I did request “not on me” but scripture states, “Those God loveth, He abuseth.” Therefore the foot apparently came down on me. Ha ha.
Irony didn’t solve anything. I took a deep breath and focused my mind onto the mundane. How could water spurt from pipes with no pressure? The pressure must come from uphill, where the well was. There was no way to stop water from running downhill, so I would have to devise some plug for the pipe when I removed the pressure switch. After considering how to make a quick plug, (whittling wood seemed like it would take too long), I asked my wife if she had a stub of a used candle. She provided one in a twinkling. I carved a plug of wax, and I headed downstairs to face getting water shot in my face a second time. Lots of water shot in my face, but the plug worked. Then I could work in leisure, but I knew that one final episode of getting water shot into my face lay ahead, when I removed the wax plug and put in the new pressure switch. Sobeit. I put in the new switch and my wife had a kitchen sink again. I was a wet rat crawling ashore, bedraggled and yet victorious.
However, I was seriously behind schedule. Not only did I have to rush off to work a shift at the Childcare, (because the staff has problems of their own, which I won’t go into), but also the forecast was for yet another storm of glop and freezing slush. I had to stock up the woodboxes at home, and also deal with my wife’s anti-Swamp activities.
Where the Swamp seems to want to ban people from visiting elders in old-age-homes, and to ban people from the schooling of their own children, my wife insists on “staying involved”. She is a grandmother who reads stories to grandchildren in Brazil, via computer magic, and who refuses to allow the family’s matriarch (her mother) to enter the hellish “retirement communities” the Swamp offers. And in this particular situation she didn’t want to face the fact the coming storm made travel seem inadvisable. By hook or krook, we were going drive to Maine for a flash-visit of three granddaughters. (A two-year-old and twins-aged-six-months.) But we couldn’t leave until after attending a middle-school-aged grandchild’s quarter-finals basketball game.
At the risk of sounding like a heartless cynic, at times it occurs to me that all this family-stuff does not help me write sonnets. Perhaps that is why many poets live alone. But I have to admit warm and fuzzy family-stuff is a counterattack, in the weird war we are midst. Therefore, I sometimes go along with her sentimental nonsense, figuring her feminine intuition is smarter than my masculine willpower. That is why I might be seen at a grandchild’s basketball game which barely resembles basketball, when I’d much rather be writing a sonnet which does resemble a sonnet.
However, there are times I must draw the line. Driving to Maine is a bad idea if you never arrive. I needed to heed the fine details of the forecast, even while preparing for the storm. But I had no time to sit at my computer to look at the details.
For an old geezer, driving to Maine or even attending a basketball game is stress. It was one more stressful thing on “the list” even though “avoid stress” was on the list. I found myself thinking it might be too much. I might fail to be as tough as I want to be. I might be a battlefield casualty.
My mind slumped into morbidity: Just as the above sonnet is unfinished, much that I have wanted to do in my life will never be done. Life is too short. But this is no different from what happened to my peers in the 1960’s and 1970’s when they became cannon fodder. In the Vietnam war, each young person who died sacrificed their “promise”. Each death was a promise unfulfilled. What might have been would never be. In like manner, the death of every old geezer in the current war is a half-century of wisdom lost, and its promise unfulfilled. War is hell.
As I had these morbid thoughts, I had no time to play my violins of self-pity and compose sorrowful sonnets. I had to gulp down some chili and hurry up and down the front steps, filling the wood boxes. Then I felt a burning in my chest.
I figured it was just heartburn, because I’d hurried to work after gulping chili. I think your suppose to siesta after chili. However, I was pushing myself, carrying a few more logs than was wise, and pulled an obscure muscle I’d never pulled before which must string between the chest and the middle of the back, and likely has to do with lifting shoulders to gasp for breath when the diaphragm isn’t enough. Yet it occurred to me it might be something other than heartburn and a pulled muscle. My heart might be quitting. And as I thought this I was bathed with sweat, which was likely due to collapsing in an armchair by a hot stove to catch my breath, yet such sweating also may be a symptom of a heart attack. Stress.
The stress-relieving thing to do in such a situation is to do what I did in California thirty-eight years ago: Drive to a hospital, explain that you are having chest pains, and have them run a quick ECG. (ElectroCardioGraph). Back in 1984 they’d tell you your heart was fine, and that the chest-pain was due to a binge, you moron, and your stomach was protesting the fact you had drunk something like two cases of beer in two days. In 1984 the diagnosis took thirty minutes and cost $110.00. But hospitals are different now, during this invisible war.
I have a unique perspective, when it comes to hospitals, for my father was a surgeon at the MGH (Massachusetts General Hospital) in Boston back in the 1940’s, 1950’s and early 1960’s, back when doctors actually ran the hospitals, and before lawyers and insurance companies ruined everything. Those were glory days, as antibiotics had just been discovered, people stopped dying of staff infections after operations, and people dying of things like syphilis and tuberculosis were learning they wouldn’t die after all. Doctors and nurses walked with a real spring in their step. (How far we have fallen.)
I figured I was probably being a hypochondriac, but I’ve known good fellows who died because they didn’t want to make a big fuss about why their chest hurt. So I figured I should make sure it wasn’t anything serious. I was 95% sure it was nothing, but 5% is stress, and I wanted to avoid stress. Of course there would be some stress because of the coronavirus nonsense. They might object to the fact I was not vaccinated. But what happened might be interesting. It might make a good blog post.
I put off deciding, choosing to instead go close down the Childcare, thinking maybe the chest pains would ebb and I could forget my worry, but, if anything, they grew sharper. I still was thinking it was a pulled muscle, but the worry was there. I then had to face the stress of telling my wife.
She wanted to call an ambulance and I said by the time an ambulance arrived we could already be at the hospital. She said she couldn’t do CPR while driving and I said she could do CPR on me as I drove. She said she’d drive. As she drove, she called ahead to the emergency entrance using her voice-activated car phone, and she answered a slew of questions including my date-of-birth, and then we continued our discussion alone as we drove through the darkness of late twilight.
I was attempting to remain calm and stress-free, saying I was 95% sure I was just being a worry wart, but, if the 5% was true, then, if I was about to die, a good wife would not want to have the last thing her husband heard be criticism. Criticism could exacerbate stress, which contributed to heart attacks, so likely the best thing was praise. I should be praised for remaining so calm when there was a 5% chance I was about to croak. And then we laughed, which is about the most stress-free thing there is.
We arrived at the emergency entrance, which seemed an unnaturally bright pool of yellow light in the darkness of evening, and I hopped out as my wife drove off to park the car. I walked in and introduced myself as the man who had called ahead with chest pains. The lady told me to put on a mask and asked me my date-of-birth and whether I’d been vaccinated. Obviously, the woman did not deserve to be called a nurse.
I have a unique perspective towards nursing, as my mother was a registered nurse at Children’s Hospital in Boston in the 1940’s, and at Brandais College in the mid-1960’s, and as a hospice nurse in the late-1960’s, and then an EMT in Maine in the late 1970’s, through the 1980’s, into the early 1990’s. My mom could remain cool in the face of blood, and boys in my boyhood neighborhood would go to her with a gory cut, because they knew their own mothers would freak-out and perhaps faint. My mom knew freaking and fainting wasn’t any good, so she would tend to the gore. (If I had a complaint as a child, it was that my mother was too cool and too detached and that she didn’t gush enough.)
The woman I was dealing with was not tending to me, the patient, but rather tending to the paperwork. It was likely a good thing I put on a mask, for it hid my expression, which was likely an odd mix between pity and sheer contempt.
For one thing, it took me about two hours of on-line research right at the start of the coronavirus pandemic to understand cheap masks were a dumb idea. As I recall, there were at least three peer-reviewed studies in the “New England Journal of Medicine”, and two more in the English journal “Lancet”, which stated ordinary masks were more or less useless when it came to preventing the spread of virus. At least one study ventured masks were harmful, because of problems other than the transmission of virus. In other words, “science”, as it was defined before the coronavirus, stated masks (other than expensive ones), were useless. However, “science” acquired a bizarre, new definition, once the war on Truth was declared.
In its new incarnation, “science” became whatever furthers a political goal. It doesn’t matter if the goal is low lusts, greed, and desires for power. Science must bow, must disregard its former affinity to Truth, and must be “politically correct”. In essence, science must agree to be false. It is for some “higher good.”
To me this claptrap is such a complete denial of the original definition of “science” that it cannot be borne. Science is supposed to be a study of Truth, just as poetry is a study of Truth. And, when I have studied history to seek examples of at least a single occasion when lies led to some “higher good”, what I see are examples of times such lies led to societal disasters. The ultimate lies were Lysenko’s, who had the distinction of precipitating terrible famines in both Russia and China, “for their own good.”
To put it mildly, I have thought using masks is a deed of rank stupidity for over two years now. Therefore, when I enter a hospital’s emergency entrance and a lady asks me to put a mask on it strikes me as a sure sign that she is ignorant. I pity her, because I know she is just doing her job, but her job is not a nurse’s, and she cannot claim to be one. She is in fact a bureaucrat in a white uniform.
I have an unspiritual inclination to rear back and give such people an uppercut to the snoot, but that would hardly help matters, even in an invisible war. Pity is better. And, as a man who runs a Childcare, I often watch small children struggle to put together simple puzzles, and know it is often better to allow them to figure things out for themselves. To be simply given an answer often involves no true learning, which may be why God, in His compassion, allows people to bungle along learning things. If people prefer falsehood to Truth for some queer reason, well, they will learn the hard way. Only if one, with all their might and main, seeks Truth midst all the fluff and balderdash, is one likely to see the Light.
I looked away from the bureaucrat clicking away at her keyboard to see if there was anyone else around. The news always makes it sound like hospitals are overcrowded with wheezing and gasping coronavirus patients, but this particular emergency entrance seemed downright serene, and understaffed. Even as I thought this a strong, young man dressed in white walked briskly around a corner and approached me. “Hi!” he said, “Are you the fellow with chest pains?” He held out a palm and we shook hands as I nodded, and then he continued, “My name is Zack and I’m your nurse. Follow me.”
As we walked further into the bright depths of the emergency entrance, I explained I was 95% sure I just pulled a muscle in my chest, and that I was just playing it safe, and Zack agreed it was better to be safe than sorry. I like agreeable people, and I took an immediate liking to him. We chattered away as if it was an everyday thing for me to strip down bare-chested and for him to start sticking small plastic sensors to various parts of my chest. For example, I stated there were a lot more sensors than there were in 1984, and he asked what happened in 1984, and I gave him the short version. When I mentioned the two cases of beer he laughed and stated that he had also learned two cases of beer in two days was not a wise idea, when he was younger.
My cellphone beeped and it was my wife texting. She said the hospital wouldn’t let her wait inside. She wondered if she should wait in the parking lot. I asked Zack how long the ECG would take, and he said besides the EKG there would be blood tests, and it would take at least an hour for the results to come in. I texted my wife it was going to take longer than I thought; over an hour; she texted back she’d wait in the parking lot until I had more news.
Zack clipped a thing onto my finger to measure my oxygen levels, and then stood back and regarded a computer display above the bed in satisfaction. It made efficient-sounding beeping noises, and besides a graph of my ECG had around ten other numbers. Then Zack hurried off, and swiftly returned, telling me the doctor said the EKG looked good, but that the doctor wanted to do other tests, including a cat scan. I asked how long it would take, and he said likely at least two hours, and maybe five. I texted my wife my ECG looked good, but there would be other tests, and she probably should wait at home. She sent an emoji of a relieved face.
Zack was swabbing the inside of my elbow, but rather than just drawing blood samples he was inserting an IV with a Y junction to allow saline in as well as to draw blood out. I asked why they had to do other tests if the ECG looked good, and Zack said an EKG wasn’t enough to prevent malpractice suits; if I had a heart attack in the next month the doctor could expect to have his socks sued off. Therefore, insurance companies required a whole slew of tests, to cover the doctor’s butts. I said it was all about money, and that lawyers and insurance companies were driving up prices, and Zack diplomatically shrugged.
From there we moved on and had a chat about why I said ECG and he said EKG. They mean the same thing, and I told him that as a writer I preferred English, and “cardio” began with a “C”. I wondered if EKG meant the machine was made in Germany, and Zack laughed. Then I asked him how long he’d been a nurse.
It turned out he’d worked eight years for a crew laying concrete foundations. The money was better than he made nursing, especially with all the cement-work overtime, but he was getting worn down. I told him cement work was rough on backs, and that I knew cement-workers who’d turned to Fentanyl to escape the pain. He adroitly avoided the subject of Fentanyl, but stated he indeed had worried about his back. I said nurses had to be careful not to hurt their backs as well; some patients could be pretty fat. Zack laughed and said this was true, but cement was heavier.
By this time I was all wired and tubed-up like a person at death’s door, and Zack hurried off to bring a couple blood samples to a lab, and a very tired-looking doctor came trudging in.
I’ll call him Dr. Robe because he struck me as being like a robot. He asked a long string of questions in a monotone yet hurried voice, as if he was asking them by rote and wasn’t interested in many of the answers. The questions seemed very much like the checklist of questions you have to answer on forms as you enter a doctor’s office, questions more aimed at malpractice lawyers than your health, questions that hold the echoes of some past court proceedings: “But did you inquire as to whether the patient was a pathological liar?”
Right off the bat Dr. Robe struck me as the sort of doctor my father would have railed should be disqualified. Doctors were not supposed to look so tired and bored and discouraged; they were supposed to radiate faith and hope and to activate the placebo-effect with their complete confidence. Their confidence was supposed to be reassuring and infectious; Dr. Robe looked infected by gloom; he had no spring in his step; he trudged.
I resisted the urge to rail at him as my father might have done, and instead prodded my slouching sense of pity. (Patients aren’t supposed to pity the doctors; it is supposed to be the other way around; but the weird war we’re within has things upside-down and backwards.)
It occurred to me it must be humiliating to be a doctor these days. Gone is the respect people once had. Where once doctors gave their opinions from a sort of pedestal, now they are told to keep their opinions to themselves. They receive orders from the Swamp, and if they beg to differ, they could lose their jobs. Rather than being treated like professionals they are treated like lackeys and flunkies. All their experience, all that they have learned over the years through actual contact with the hurting, all their success and failure, is disregarded, in favor of some Swamp commandment. Worst is the fact that the Swamp’s new definition of “science” is looking increasingly stupid, as it is confronted by its failures to be like true “science”, and to honor true Truth.
The Swamp is confronted by the failures of its “promises” to come true. Masks were supposed to stop-the-spread but failed. Social distancing was supposed to stop-the-spread but failed. Vaccines were supposed to stop-the-spread but failed. Those who trusted the Swamp, and complied, now can’t help but to increasingly feel disappointed and even betrayed. Me? My faith was trampled very early on, and I’ve been a Skeptic for nearly two years now.
I think what originally set off alarms in my head was my perception the Swamp did not like second opinions. My father was very big on getting second opinions. I could recall that, back in the glory days when doctors ran their own hospitals, doctors were always sharing what they had discovered, or asking if the other doctors had ever come across an unexpected complication they were confronted by. They were well aware every patient is different, “what is good for the goose may be bad for the gander”, and they had open minds that sought the insights of others. As a small boy I liked to hang about the periphery as they talked over drinks after work, for they all seemed excited to hear each other’s latest discovery.
The Swamp now seems utterly different. They seemed to epitomize the Globalist view that there should only be one view. And this sense was verified when the first news about hydroxychloroquine surfaced. To me it seemed very good news, and I was appalled when the doctors who sought to publicize the beneficial possibilities were censored on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. At that time there was no vaccine, so why repress a potentially good treatment?
And so it has continued, through numerous other helpful treatments including ivermectin. Second opinions are not allowed. Only vaccines and masks are allowed, even though they aren’t working. (Who doesn’t know at least one person who wore masks religiously and had both the vaccination and the booster yet still got the coronavirus?)
Despite the censorship of Free Speech, (and even of the last president of the United States), people still do communicate, and the second opinions of those doctors who dare speak out are disseminated from obscure websites across the globe. And sick people always have a propensity to try even the most crackpot cures, when their first doctor fails. And, when the supposedly crackpot cure works, though the Globalists scoff, the word spreads despite Globalists best efforts to quash the word. People simply want to be better, and no amount of malarky can deny that the impulse to be better is a truly good impulse in the mortal soul. If you repress the urge to get better, you are basically a complete jerk.
This returns me to my earlier point that Globalists feel this world would be a better place if there was only one view allowed. I asserted their idea is like saying marriage would involve less disagreement if there was only one spouse. True, but then it wouldn’t be marriage. And the fact of the matter is that the Creator created us different. We share our fingerprints with no other soul among the nearly eight billion currently alive on earth. This might make us feel alone, if it were not for the wonder of understanding.
That is what I remember most from the glory days of medicine. Doctors had no fear of second opinions, because their interest was understanding. They did not see a second opinion as a threatening disagreement, but rather as the wonder of another view. As impossible as it may seem to some, disagreement wasn’t disagreeable. It was the opening of a window to a new sky.
How far we have fallen. When I looked at Dr. Robe I did not see a brave doctor of the sort who would be banned from YouTube and Twitter, but rather a compliant yes-man, subservient to the Swamp. He feared losing his job, craving dollars. Yet as much as he makes, it is never enough. He must pay back three times what I make in a year just to pay for the “insurance”.
Back in the glory days, when doctors ran hospitals, my Dad didn’t worry about being sued. When he saved a fellow’s life, we’d get a “grateful patient” gift from where the fellow reclined in Florida, a big cardboard box filled with oranges, tangerines, and juicy grapefruit. Now? Now doctors spend $150,000 a year for malpractice insurance. You have pay for the “privilege” of saving some goofball’s life. How far we have fallen.
Actually, it isn’t so hard to pity Dr. Robe. For a third of what he pays just to avoid the vengeance of ungrateful patients, I happily subsist. I pay my bills and live a good life with children and grandchildren. I am not rich but feel blessed in many other ways. But maybe I too will face the vengeance. I may face the vengeance of a sort of Stalin, who loathed the Kulak, who I am sort of like.
To be blunt, I feel the Globalists are narrow-minded, and that they find it offensive that so many live outside their myopia. Where they are consumed by a lust for power, the powerless simply get by. The Globalists ask, “What right have the powerless to be happier?” (For indeed we are.)
The answer, (which they don’t want to hear), is that we simple bumpkins deal with Truth, which is Beauty, yet which they seek to deny. They think they have their reasons to deny the Truth about cures for the coronavirus other than their vaccine, but when their vaccine fails and other cures work, the “cure” is something called the Truth. At this point, they can either confess their error, or they can deny Truth.
At which point one wonders what low craving they are blinded by. They must know on some level that their so-called “science” has been made to look foolish. Why do they insist on stating they are not fools when, it is increasingly obvious, they are fools?
There are various theories about what motivates them, ranging from the simple pride of a person who doesn’t want to admit a mistake, to more elaborate conspiracy theories.
One theory states that the profits from vaccines are gigantic, as much as twenty dollars back for each dollar put in, and Globalists are deeply invested, and don’t want to face a crash. Another theory states all sorts of wicked results are the real intent of jabbing every person on earth. Some even state they want to reduce the world population to half a billion.
All I know is that vaccines don’t work. People get vaccinated and still get the corona virus. Back in the old days, this disqualified the jab from being even called a “vaccine.” But the new “science” decrees that the jab results in “milder cases”. How can they compare a case with what never happened? The question should be, “Have vaccinated people died?” Because some have, the vaccination failed to vaccinate. So why push it? And why push it on small children, who almost never suffer complications from the coronavirus? Especially as the vaccination has some side effects which have killed some people. This may be a “small” risk, but why expose a child to such risk at all? Simple question. Just answer the blasted question! Instead, they change the subject. For example, am I a racist?
The effectiveness of various cures are topics which, back in the glory days when doctors ruled their own hospitals, would have been freely and openly discussed after work while sipping an Old-Fashioned. Now you hear cures discussed behind the magazine rack at the local market, or on obscure uncensored sites on the internet. However, as I looked at Dr. Robe, it did not even occur to me to bring up the topic of alternative cures. He was not a brave doctor. He was just a poor man, poorer than me, striving to pay off fabulous college loans and incredible insurance costs, cursing whoever told him that being a doctor would make him respected and rich. Increasingly he is neither. Rather than respected, doctors are increasingly a laughingstock. Surely this must eat away at them. Some pity must be felt, (unless, of course, doctors seek revenge on the public.)
These may seem like odd thoughts to be drifting about my head when I had a 5% chance of meeting my Maker. But they say your whole life flashes before you, as you die, and the downfall of hospitals has been a part of my life. Also, I must say this about Dr. Robe: He did reduce my 5% worry I was dying to around 0.1%, simply by stating my ECG looked normal. This relaxed me greatly, and from then on, I was just going along for the ride, enjoying the views of how hospitals look now, compared to how they looked when I ran about the MGH in Boston as a little boy.
After asking me a robotic checklist of questions Dr. Robe droned that he wanted to be absolutely sure enzymes in my blood didn’t change in three hours, and also to make sure I didn’t have a blood clot in my lungs, by having me go through a cat scan.
I hadn’t seen the bill. ($6,402.77). I hoped insurance covered a lot, but knew somebody somewhere was making money from the nonsense. Should it cost so much to learn nothing is wrong?
In any case, Dr. Robe vanished, and I never saw him again. It was the end of his shift, and hopefully he went home to a nice wife and good backrub. But I could not go home, and texted my wife that things still looked good, but I couldn’t go to the basketball game or Bible study, because it would be at least three hours before they were done checking me over from top to bottom.
Right at this point a tiny, masked woman dressed as a nurse came to roll me off for a cat scan. This struck me as a little absurd, for it seemed a big, strong nurse like Zack should have done the rolling. But back in my boyhood men weren’t nurses. Zack would have been called an “orderly”, which may now be a sexist term. Who knows? All I knew was a tiny woman began detaching plasma bottles and saline bottles I didn’t need from a height she could barely reach on tiptoes and putting the bottles above my head on another rack she also could barely reach, attached to a bed she barely looked strong enough to roll.
Above her mask she looked a little stressed to me, and in a hurry, so I tried to think of some way to relax her. After all, as one approaches age seventy, scrawny young women one wouldn’t have looked twice at, when aged twenty, have a surprising beauty, even when you can only see their eyes and foreheads. And I know life is hard at hospitals, midst this invisible war. I evaluated her.
The little nurse seemed disinterested in conversation, only stating, “I’m taking you for your cat scan” before becoming very efficient, so it was up to me to break the ice. Something impish in me had me state, “I think I am going to like this. Will you mind it much if I squeal, ‘wheeee!’ as you roll me?”
She looked at me with severe surprise above her mask, and said, “Please don’t.”
I laughed and said, “OK I won’t, but, you see, I run a Childcare, and I am forever pulling wagons or dragging sleds full of children, and they say, “wheeee!” as I pull them, but they never pull me. So, this is a new experience for me. I think I will enjoy it very much.”
She met my eye, and the severity of the young face above the mask went through a lovely transformation. She laughed, and said, “I push strollers at home and gurneys at work.”
I replied, “Gosh! You never get a break! Well, I suppose my old age does have its advantages…” Her forehead vanished as she lowered her shoulders to push me, but I did hear a chuckle.
I must admit she pushed well, achieving speeds faster than I thought wise, and she also had an amazing ability to navigate through automatically opening doors even when she had to show some sort of badge to make them open. I didn’t say “wheeee” even once, but did at one point inquire, “National Guard?”
This was because, down from the emergency entrance, we passed the non-emergency entrance, which is not the “main entrance”, (which has been closed a long time due to the coronavirus). The non-emergency entrance is where they take your temperature and ask a slew of questions and make you put on a mask before you go to an appointment about a hangnail. And as we passed through a crossroads and I looked down towards that entrance, I saw not the usual nurses but big men in combat boots and camouflaged uniforms.
The nurse pushing me simply explained, “Yes. We’re understaffed.”
I said, “Those big fellows should be pushing the gurneys. You should be swiping the foreheads.”
“Maybe, but they can’t run the cat scan.”
“You do that too?”
“You must have to do a lot when you’re understaffed.”
“I know some nurses who quit.”
“So do I.”
“Strange times.” There seemed little else to say about the nurses who quit when ordered to have the vaccine or the booster, (or even other vaccinated nurses, who quit when ordered to order the unvaccinated to vaccinate). It was just part of the war. I suppose, given more time, we might have discussed the various reasons which the media never talks about, but we had arrived at the cat scan, and she had a job to do.
The cat scan was a futurist looking plastic donut covered with green lights and digital readouts, and a few red lights, with a table that shifted in and out of the donut. I had to shift my old carcass to the table, which involved rearranging various wires and tubes, and also the nurse had to add a “tracer” in my blood, which involved my answering a whole slew of questions, including my date-of-birth again. (I was patient with this stuff because both my mother and father had told me of outrageous mistakes made by hospitals that weren’t careful, such as amputating the wrong leg, or the right leg from the wrong person.) I did wonder a bit what the “tracer” was, and what side-effects it might have, and why they asked so many questions about allergies. The nurse mentioned I should tell her of various side effects, including heat in my crotch or anus. I was about to ask further questions, in a hopefully disarming voice, but just then I was hit in the face by a jet of water.
In order to inject the tracer, the nurse had to loosen the saline drip, and the little tube had jumped from her fingers. “Oh! I’m so, so sorry!” she exclaimed.
“Don’t worry. I’m getting used to it. It’s the fourth time today I’ve been squirted in the face.”
Her eyebrows raised above her mask as she dabbed my face with a white towel, which I found enjoyable. When was the last time a young woman dabbed my face with a towel? My mother? Sixty years ago? She brought me back to earth by asking, “What squirted you the other times?”
I gave her the short version of replacing the pressure switch in the cellar, and by the time I was done the “tracer” was in me, so I dismissed asking about side effects. Whatever will be will be. The ‘tracer” might cause cancer (or even have been the vaccine), but there are only so many conspiracy theories a man can handle at once, and these days I’m overwhelmed.
The nurse was shifting all the tubes and wires so they wouldn’t get hung up in the donut, and we were ready to roll. I rolled in, and the machine’s robotic voice (feminine) told me to hold a deep breath, and I did, and things clicked and whirred, and the machine said “exhale”, and things whirred and clicked, and then I rolled back, and there were more clicks and whirrs and a beep, without me needing to hold my breath, but then I rolled in again and had to hold my breath again.
As I rolled in and out of this “hole” I chuckled. It occurred to me the situation could have Freudian implications. It had some similarity to sex, or perhaps birth. But that idea was so utterly absurd that it made me think that all the time I spent fifty years ago, studying thought and psychology based on Freud, and even the thought and philosophy of those who rejected Freud by fighting Freud, such as Yung and Pearls (gestalt) and Lang, was a complete waste of my time. Fifty years ago, I thought I was seeking Truth, peering deep into the subconscious, but the fact of the matter is that, when you are rolling in and out of a hole, the Truth is that you are rolling and out of a hole. Psychologists make Truth complex when it is in fact simple.
The way this idea crossed my mind made me chuckle to myself, which made the masked face of the tiny nurse pop up and regard me studiously, even as the cat scan was completed. I’m glad she didn’t ask why I chuckled. It would have taken several hours to explain Freud, Jung, Pearls and Lang, (let alone Timothy Leary). Rather than asking me any questions she (I suppose) looked for “symptoms” and became satisfied my chuckle wasn’t a symptom. After this swift appraisal of my mental state, (especially swift when compared to Freud), the little nurse vanished as she bowed her shoulders and trundled me at great speed back to where I began by the emergency entrance. When we got there, I thanked her for the ride, just as I always thanked drivers who gave me rides when I hitchhiked fifty years ago, and, just as drivers then vanished and I never saw them again, she vanished.
So there I was, back where I started, when I arrived with the simple question, “Am I having a heart attack?” Maybe now they would let me go home? Not so fast.
No sooner had the little nurse completed the task of shifting various tubes and wires from my mobile and rolling situation to my static situation, when the new Doctor came ambling in. In fact, I’ll call him Doctor Amble, because he had the ease of a refreshed man just starting his shift, which was different from Dr. Robe, at the end of his shift. This difference alone should highlight the importance of second opinions. After all, our own opinions shift, from first thing in the morning to when we go to bed weary. However, the difference in opinion between Dr. Robe and Dr. Amble was more than that, and I found it interesting to see it manifest.
Not that Dr. Amble actually said Dr. Robe was wrong. He was in fact just telling me what Dr. Robe had prescribed. Much that was prescribed I already knew, (such as the cat scan), for I had already endured it. Yet, as Dr. Amble spoke of Dr. Robe’s prescriptions, he made telling noises. He never actually said, “Pshaw”, like an old time Yankee, but made odd noises that meant the same thing. For example, he seemed to feel the cat scan was a waste of time, for he made the slightest “puh” noise as he read that prescription. He also seemed to feel a sort of scorn for the first blood test and the second one three hours later. He had a better test. Not that he said a thing to me, but I am a surgeon’s son who grew up in a hospital, and I know a second opinion when I see one. I wondered what his second opinion was, but he just told me I seemed well, but they’d need to make sure with a few more tests. Then Dr. Amble ambled off, likely unaware I was scrutinizing him more carefully than he scrutinized me, and coming up with diagnoses all my own.
For one thing, I sensed his relaxed attitude was an act. An emergency ward is a stressful place to work even during peacetime, and he was working midst an invisible war, where political pressures had doctors forced to bite their tongues and keep their second opinions to themselves. Once again, I felt I, as a patient, should pity the doctor more than the doctor pitied me, especially as I’d already learned I was well.
Apparently Dr. Amble’s second opinion involved his own way of finding out if a chest pain was due to the heart. His way was to have the patient put a tiny pellet of nitroglycerine under their tongue. If the pain vanished, there might be a problem with the heart. If the pain failed to vanish, the problem might be a pulled muscle, or heartburn due to the sort of diet which invites an ulcer.
A nitroglycerine tablet costs less than a dollar, so you can see Dr. Amble’s approach might get him in trouble with those who see medicine as a way to make big money. For example, suppose Dr. Amble’s approach was more effective than a cat scan, which involves a machine which costs hundreds of thousands of dollars and an entire staff of technicians. It might seem obvious a diagnostic tool that cost a dollar would be more attractive than a tool that cost a million, but that is not how the Swamp works.
The male nurse Zack came hurrying back to where I lay, holding a tiny paper cup and a tiny bottle of tiny nitroglycerine tablets. After asking me a few questions including my date-of-birth he very carefully shook a single pill from the bottle to the paper cup and told me to put it under my tongue and allow it to dissolve, and to quickly tell him if I felt any dizziness. I did put the pill under my tongue, and then asked him if it might cause a migraine headache.
Zack looked surprised asked me why I asked that, and I told him I once was watching a crew blast granite in Maine and they told me not to stand downwind of the blast, because even a whiff of nitroglycerine might cause an instant migraine headache. He said he had never seen that, but my blood pressure had already fallen ten points. Then he asked me if my chest still hurt. I shifted about and said, yes, it still hurt the same. He shook out a second tiny pill into the cup, and after I dissolved that one under my tongue, he shook out a third.
I noticed Zack was taking great care not to touch a pill, and asked him why, and he laughed. Still keeping his eyes on the electronic display above my bed, he told me that even without touching the pills his body was absorbing enough nitroglycerine to, if he went to the airport the next day, set off alarms. He would be pulled aside as a suspected terrorist. I said it was amazing airport sensors were that sensitive and Zack agreed. Then he asked me again if the pills lessened my levels of pain, and I said not a jot, and he nodded, and left.
Soon Dr. Amble came sauntering back into the room, shuffling through a sheaf of papers in a scornful sort of way, and he said I was likely fit as a fiddle and right as rain, and that my blood tests showed no unusual enzymes, but they’d have to give me another test in an hour to see if there were any changes, and then he heaved a sigh, as if he himself thought it was a big waste of time. Then he turned and ambled out, but I thought I detected a slight slouching, as if he was under a burden.
Then I had to sit for about for an hour, which can be a little stressful for a person like me. I entertained myself by holding my breath and seeing if I could make my O2 levels drop to where it made a little light blink, but that got old, and then I drummed my fingers and fidgeted. Even though I don’t smoke any more, I’m still addicted to an occasional nicotine lozenge, but they were in my shirt on a chair six feet from the bed. Reaching that chair without unplugging various tubes and wires became an interesting challenge. I thought I had succeeded and was sucking a lozenge and back to making my O2 levels drop, when Zack came hurrying in. I asked him if he came because my O2 levels had dropped, he replied no, he came because I was dead. Apparently, I had disconnected some wire that measured my pulse. After he reconnected me, he stated it was time to take my second blood sample. As he took the tubes of blood, I asked him how long it would take the results to come in, because I wanted to tell my wife when she could pick me up. He said around an hour, so that is what I texted my wife.
Then I had to endure one of those slow hours which remind me of math class in high school. (Math was my last class of the day. Waiting for the minute hand to reach twelve was like seeing time come to a complete halt.)
Actually, it is not a bad thing to have time slow down, at this stage of my life. Usually, it feels like things happen too fast and I can’t keep up with the craziness, and I’m left gasping for time to collect my thoughts. Now I had time. Strange that the place for such peace was an emergency ward.
I made good use of the time, thinking deeply about hospitals, doctors and nurses, and what I’ve seen in sixty years. For some reason my mind kept returning to Dr. Amble, and what I might say to him to uplift him. I had a clever insight I thought I might share, a witty and pithy statement which might be short, like a sonnet, but which he might find worth mulling over afterwards. Sadly, like Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan”, it was not completely delivered.
Not that I didn’t try. The moment Dr. Amble reappeared I lifted an index finger and flashed a witty smile, but he never looked up from the papers he shuffled. He came in one door and ambled in a seemingly relaxed way through the room, and out the other door, shuffling papers all the way and never looking up once. I followed him the entire way with index finger raised and witty smile, but he never noticed.
In conclusion, I heard his conclusions, but he never heard mine. He said I was fine and could go home.
A young woman I’d never seen before entered after him and detached me from all the tubes and wires, I put my shirt back on, and then she looked scandalized when I put on my jacket and was about to leave. “Where is your mask? You can’t leave without your mask!”
I had forgotten all about masks. After searching we found it, crushed on the sheets I’d spent hours laying upon. Once it was back on my face, the nurse seemed very relieved, and I was allowed to walk out to the emergency entrance.
I was uncertain which door to exit by. The same woman who was there when I entered was still there, clicking at the same keyboard, and she was able to tell me what door was acceptable. Then, five hours after I entered, I walked back out into a pattering of raindrops, and towards my wife’s car I could see idling out in the parking lot.
Did this experience lower my level of stress? Yes, in terms of worry about my chest pains. But in terms of my levels of worry about hospitals? I’m not so sure. It’s not that the people who actually work there are bad, but rather that the absentee landlords who oversee hospitals are…. Deranged?
As my wife drove me home though the inky dark, I apologized for the fact my hypochondria had cost us five hours. I said my chest still hurt, and, if I hadn’t been reassured, I likely would have worried all night and all the next day, but at least now I knew I was OK. But it should have taken 45 minutes, like it did in California in 1984. She was very nice about it, simply saying her prayers had been answered. Then she promptly discussed driving to Maine.
This had the potential to immediately increase my level of stress, partially because it involved forecasting New England weather, which is inherently stressful if the outcome matters to you. The potential for being wrong is likely greater in New England than it is for most of the rest of the world. I avoided stress by exhaling slowly and deeply, and also by avoiding making a forecast. Often it is best to simply say, “We will see in the morning.”
The trip to Maine is another story, and this one has gone on long enough. Hopefully the trip to Maine will be “Part Two” of this description of how stressful it can be to avoid stress. However, I think it is good to stop “Part One”, at this point, for it is a sort of happy ending, and I do like happy endings. What can be happier, and more stress-relieving, than to find out your chest pains do not mean you are about to die?
But gosh! It sure can be hard getting that answer! Downright stressful!
If I am going to drop dead and die with my boots on it will likely be when I am doing something strenuous like splitting wood and hauling it up staircases, or shoveling snow, and not when kids sit around me as I tell a story, but the aggravating bureaucrats in the Swamp insist Childcare Professionals must get a physical, as if that can keep us from dropping dead on the job. So, I had to add “physical” to my list of chores. (As if I don’t have enough to do already.)
Consequently, this morning, before the sun was up, I had to rush off when it was two below (-19 Celsius) and drive twenty miles to have a “blood draw”, which is part of the “physical”. The blood draw itself was swift and efficient, taking only five minutes, but getting through all the coronavirus balderdash and into the hospital took longer. They had to take my temperature and issue me a mask, which was especially irksome because on my car radio on my way there I’d been listening to a doctor say masks were useless, and that all the other medical balderdash had done more harm than good.
To top it off, you have to fast before such blood draws. I often skip breakfast, but skipping my morning coffee makes me see the world through ash-colored glasses. I wasn’t rude, but was cold and silent with the nurses. My outlook was bleak. Then I had to hurry back to the Childcare, as I was late for my shift. My wife was covering for me, but I knew she had to prepare a beef stew for a church supper. Therefore, I shouldn’t stop at the market for a coffee. But I did. I rushed in and grabbed the biggest cup I could, to go, and clamped a lid on it and slapped down two dollars and rushed out without chatting with the girl behind the counter, who looked surprised.
Rushing in the door of the Childcare I still hadn’t had a sip of the coffee, and immediately the kids swarmed me. They treat me like a rock star, and, when I’ve had coffee, I can to some degree fill the role, but when I haven’t had coffee my attitude towards children is a little like W. C. Field’s. I could see the situation needed a remedy and began gulping the coffee down.
The coffee had absolutely no effect, and I sagged onto a couch, which immediately precipitated conflict and tears, about who would sit in my lap. I only have one lap, and one right hand and one left hand, and when six kids are involved the arguing and tears involved is absurd.
I had no patience. Ordinarily I can to some degree resolve such issues even when it involves seven kids, as I have a lap, left side, right side, left knee, right knee, and left and right shoulder. But I was achy from splitting wood and shoveling snow, and anyway, the flipping bureaucrats are so worried I might drop dead that surely it would break some balderdash law to be physically holding up five kids at once.
I obviously was in no mood to resolve issues, and the little children were especially contentious. Two were both in tears in a squabble over who should play with me with what puppets. They were on the verge of coming to blows over two puppets in particular.
My initial impulse was to clonk their thick, little skulls together, but then I recalled a certain State Mandated Childcare Professional Class suggested that in such situations one should “remove and distract”. I said, “Gimmie those puppets” and snatched them from the little children. That was the “remove” part. But the looks on their faces made me feel the “distraction” had better be a good one. The only problem was my mind was dull and blank.
The situation was bad, but I have heard God can make good out of evil, so I had hope, and looked about for help. All I could see was the two puppets I held. One was a rabbit, and one was a frog. I put them like gloves onto my hands, thinking that some crazy antics I made the puppets enact might stun my audience and make them forget their unruly unhappiness. After all, is not that what rock stars do? And in fact, as soon as I put the puppets on my hands, the little children seemed to hush and settle, expecting me to perform.
And right then, thank God, the coffee hit, and out the blue the following fable appeared and unfolded. The children liked it so much they had me tell it again.
Long, long ago, on the Ilse of Ease where the seven Snuggle sisters lived, there also lived a rabbit named Lepus Hopper. Lepus was hugged a lot by the Snuggle sisters, and a day came when he decided enough was enough. He was tired of being hugged all the time. Therefore, he attempted hiding.
He hid up on the hill, but they found him.
He hid behind the big tree, but they found him.
He even hid in the prickers, but they found him, and, after they found him, they put on gardener-gloves with long gauntlets to reach through the thorns and grab him.
Finally, Lepus went to the center of the island and hid in the ferns by Muddy Pond, and for a short while had some peace, but soon heard the baying of Gustav, the Snuggle’s farm-dog, and knew that soon they’d track him down.
Just then Lepus noticed a frog named Francis Frog sitting by the pond, looking very sad. Lepus said, “You think you’ve got problems? You ought to see mine.”
Francis stopped moping and looked interested. “Really? What’s your problem?”
“I get hugged too much,” explained Lepus. “The seven Snuggle sisters never let up. They hug me in the morning and in the afternoon. I’m squeezed so much my ribs are starting to ache.”
“Well, what an amazing coincidence!” exclaimed Francis, “My problem is that I never get hugged at all. The seven Snuggle sisters say I am icky.”
“Have you told them that if they kiss you, you’ll turn into a prince?”
Francis looked thoughtful. “No, that never occurred to me.”
Lepus suggested, “Give it a try. It seems to work, according to books I’ve read.”
“Will do. But, since you’ve given me your advice, would you like mine?”
Lepus cocked his long ears anxiously. He could hear the baying of Gustav coming over the hill and getting closer. “Yes! Tell me! Tell me! I’ll try anything!”
“Come down into the mud with me and get icky. They won’t hug you if you’re all icky.”
It seemed like a good idea at the time, so Lepus hopped to the side of the pond, and they smeared the rabbit’s fur with mud and algae, with a few dabs of scum for good measure. Francis looked at Lepus, evaluating. “Pretty icky, but something is missing.” Fransis thought deeply, stroking his lack of a chin, and then exclaimed, “I’ve got it! You need to eat a few bugs like I do. You need to have some insect-legs sticking from your mouth. Then they’ll never kiss you.”
Francis’s advice didn’t seem so good to Lepus anymore. He was cold and wet and had started shivering, but just then Francis exclaimed, “Oh, this is our lucky day! Look who’s coming!”
Down the shore of the pond came a grasshopper and an ant. The ant was talking about financial investments, IRA accounts, and the risks of buying gold, when Francis’s long, pink, sticky tongue hit him, and he was gobbled up. Then Francis looked cheerfully at Lepus, with a few legs waving from his lips, and said through a mouthful, “Your turn.”
Lepus looked at the nervous grasshopper dubiously. Then he stuck out his own little tongue and went cross-eyed looking down at it doubtfully. Then, for no apparent reason, he muttered, “I do not like green eggs and ham…” But finally, Lepus took a great, deep breath, stepped forward, and…
“Stop right there!” bellowed the grasshopper, with a surprisingly loud voice.
Lepus stepped back, and looked relieved, but asked, “Why?”
“You can’t eat me, and neither can Frog there.”
Francis stood taller. “The name is Francis, and why, pray tell, should I not eat you?”
“Because I hop. And you hop. And so does Rabbit there. We hoppers have to stick together. We’re practically brothers. If you eat me, it makes you a sort of a cannibal, does it not?”
Francis looked thoughtful. “You know, that never occurred to me.” Then he looked up. Gustav was crashing through the underbrush with the seven Snuggle sisters in hot pursuit. Francis looked at the grasshopper and said, “Well here goes nothing.” Then he hopped away from the pond to meet the oncoming throng.
“Hi there!” said Fransis to Gustav, who screeched to a halt so swiftly the Snuggle sisters nearly fell over him. They all looked at the big frog in surprise, as he continued, “Did you young ladies know that if you kiss me, I’ll turn into a prince? Who will be the lucky princess?”
All seven girls burst out laughing.
“Do you think we were born yesterday?” exclaimed Susie Snuggles.
“Just imagine, thinking we’d fall for that old ruse!” shouted Sarah Snuggles.
Sally Snuggles laughed, “Do you know how many frogs have tried that line on us?”
Sophia Snuggles said, “Even Sissy knew better than to kiss a frog by the time she was three.”
Sissy Snuggles agreed, “Yup.”
Only Samantha Snuggles was silent. Her face had become sympathetic, because the frog looked so sad.
Sissy looked around and asked Francis, “Seen any rabbits around here?”
Just then the grasshopper crawled out from under the ferns and exclaimed, “How about me? I can hop like a rabbit.” He jumped left and right a few times, to demonstrate, smiling, and then added, “And if you kiss me, I might turn into a prince!”
Sophia rolled her eyes, Sally heaved a sigh and shook her head, and Sarah put her hands on her hips and exclaimed, “Who ever heard of such a thing? A grasshopper turning into a prince!”
The grasshopper put his four front hands on its thorax’s side and challenged back, “How would you know, if you never tried it? I’ve heard of plenty of girls kissing frogs, but no one has ever experimented with a grasshopper, have they?”
Fransis said, “You know, that never occurred to me…” but Susie interrupted, scoffing, “We don’t want a prince. We want fur! Soft, strokable fur, that we can cuddle!”
“Well, you got me there.” admitted the grasshopper.
Sissy turned to Gustav, who was smiling with his tongue dangling out, and demanded, “Gustav! Where is the bunny!?”
Gustav turned to the ferns, lifted a paw, and pointed.
Lepus then came dragging out of the ferns, looking very sorry for himself. He was wet and slimy and smelled. The girls all exclaimed, “Oh! You poor thing!” and gathered about to tenderly clean his fur and dab it dry with a towel. Sarah hugged Lupus gently as they started home. Lupus looked back at Francis, winked, and silently mouthed, “I’ve changed my mind.”
Fransis looked grouchy, and then surprised. He saw Samantha Snuggles was lagging behind the rest. She paused, and then looked over both her shoulders, and then hurried back to him. After looking over both her shoulders a second time she stooped and gave Francis a kiss on his forehead.
Francis blushed, and he tingled all over. The tingling was so strong he looked down at his skinny arms to see if he was turning into a prince. He wasn’t. But Fransis did notice something odd. His green skin was swiftly growing out soft green fur. It grew longer and longer, and started to curl.
Once Francis was completely fluffed out, Samantha scooped him up and took him home with her.
The grasshopper laughed and hopped away, singing Zippidy Doo Dah.
Anyway, in case you are wondering, that why you will see, if you ever visit the Snuggle’s house, that Samanth’s bed has a big, green frog on it. The frog looks very happy, because it had never occurred to him but now has.
I heard a good ghost story recently; not a creepy one but a happy one, and I’d like to share it with you, in my longwinded way.
Back in the 1940’s a farmer could make a modest living in these parts simply by raising a hundred chickens, and selling the eggs to a middleman who sold them in Boston. Some farmers expanded to having several hundred hens, but the eggs were produced on a small scale, compared to how they are produced nowadays.
The farm where I now run my Childcare was a chicken farm back in those days, and the farmer’s sons included two who stayed in town and also had chicken farms of their own. Even after the farm my Childcare is on was sold, the sons remained in town.
By the time I first visited “my” farm in 1968 its henhouses were in ruins, merely fieldstone foundations, plus a concrete slab where the incubator had been. The chicken farms were becoming less common, but a few of the larger ones still survived, and teenagers my age still made some spending money working in the reek, gathering eggs and shoveling chickenshit and sometimes carrying hens upside-down by their legs to move them from one pen to another, or to be turned into soup when they stopped producing.
I’m friends with a couple of old men who worked on such farms, and neither is all that fond of eggs to this day. But “my” farm (actually my father’s) had no chickens, and my stepmother swore she would die before she ever raised any, (because she had raised them as a girl and one rainy day had slipped on wet plywood into an oozy lake of poop). So I was spared such trauma as a teen, (and instead developed a deep distaste towards digging fenceposts in stony soil.) Then I hit the road in 1972, and, after traveling the world, only returned in 1988, (supposedly only for two weeks, but I met my wife).
By 1988 the last chicken farm was gone, as people had found construction was far more profitable. Some of the builders in my town gained international reputations or came up with inventions that made them quite rich, while others lived modest lives not much different from the lives the chicken farmers lived, raising children in a country town where people knew their neighbors. As I’d been gone for sixteen years, I had a lot of catching up to do, (and I’ll never match my wife’s ability to chart who is related to whom), but I soon learned that the two sons of the original chicken farmer who owned “my” farm were still around. They’d started families at a young age, and their children were older than me, and some children even had children, who were still around town. (So you can see why you need a chart).
Many old farms had dumps, as there wasn’t much trash in the old days, beyond bottles and cans which were often reused. (Paper was burned.) Around 1991 I was cleaning up the broken glass in the dump behind the ruins of the chicken house at “my” farm, when I discovered a silver spoon. It was a baby spoon which likely had been thrown out by accident. It had an initial on it that matched the family that had owned the farm in the 1940’s. I thought it would be a good joke to return the spoon and say, “I found something you lost.” So I did, but I got the generations mixed up, and the fellow I returned the spoon to laughed, “No, this was likely my Dad’s spoon, or one of his siblings. He grew up on your farm; I grew up on a different farm.” But my reputation was enhanced because I cared more for returning the spoon than for keeping silver. We became friends; not close friends, but friends in the way that knits small towns together.
Then thirty years passed. We got old. Unfortunately, the fellow I returned the spoon to had a hereditary ailment which made his life rough. Not long ago he said to his son, “I don’t much like being lame. Do you know what the first thing I’ll do will be, after I die? I’m going to jump and click my heels.” This was spoken in private, only to the son.
Then he caught the coronavirus, and after a battle in a ventilator, the good man passed away. Shortly afterwards, as the family gathered to mourn, a young granddaughter said, “I saw grandpa in a sort of dream, only I was awake. I saw him walking down a summer road, and, as I watched him, he jumped and clicked his heels.”
It’s hard to feel bad for a fellow clicking his heels. We grieve for ourselves, and because we miss people.
My wry sense of humor wants to let slip
Some joke about how Christmas's feasting
And napping doesn't seem like true worship.
Gluttony and sloth seem more like a bee's sting
Than like honey, and yet, all the same,
They drop the hardship, and just celebrate:
I dream by the fire, and see in each flame
The passage of sixty years, and await
Whatever is next completely assured
Light is our leader. Death has no bee sting
When death will see all age's aches be cured.
The bent will straighten, will walk whistling,
And will click their heels. Age is just a mask
We will some day drop. What more could you ask?
With apologies to all named “Karen”, Karen has become the slang word, in New England, to describe the annoying sort of person who has no qualms about lecturing others in public places for failing to virtue signal in the politically correct manner. Currently Karens tend to nag if you don’t wear a coronavirus mask, if not two masks. Years ago they used to be famous for saying, “Could you please not smoke?” even if you were outdoors and downwind. The self-appointed police of cancel-culture, often they speak in a nasal voice that could break glass, and need no bullhorn. Ones immediate reaction must be repressed, for what one instinctively wants to do is give them a smack right across the kisser.
I’ve had years of practice dealing with Karens, for I have never been politically correct, and used to smoke fifty cigarettes a day. Usually I simply give them a silent, dead-fish look, but afterwards I always think, “What I should have said is…”
On the web Karens exist as “Trolls”, and one actually has the time to sit back and think before politely responding. One thing which I’ve more often than not seen is: They are incapable of articulate debate. They may use a phase such as “science states”, but when you actually bring up the science they tend to vamoose. Once in a while you may find a Troll who actually likes to experience the joy of healthy debate, in which case they are not truly a Troll.
In public places one has less time to think, but if you bring up a question such as, “Do you know the actual science, regarding the effectiveness of masks, as reported in the New England Journal of Medicine?” or “Did you know the Army conducted a study where 500 soldiers wore masks and 500 soldiers went without masks? Would you like to hear the results?” a Karen seldom will answer the polite question. They tend to either appeal to a differing authority, becoming more shrill, or they wheel and march away, often to the manager of the store, who they berate, demanding you be thrown out. Sometimes they call the police.
The best response is to understand a Karen is not a happy person. They likely are not receiving understanding or love, and therefore their power-mad behavior is a way of gaining attention. They enjoy the fact they can’t be ignored (which is why a dead-fish response is so effective). Some attention, even repugnance, is better than no attention at all.
Therefore the best response is to pity them. I learned this response from a preacher who was very good at it, for his pity was genuine. If someone was nasty and crabby he would respond with amazing love. He would dare say something like, “I’m so sorry you aren’t feeling well. Would you like me to pray for you?”
Oddly the Karen, taken aback and standing open-mouthed, would often nod, almost against their will. Likely they assumed the prayer would occur later, somewhere else, but as soon as they nodded they preacher would start to quite loudly pray.
“Oh father, you are the preserver and protector of all, and love us with infinite love. I pray that this person experiences that love, and feels its healing power. I pray you end fear and create a blessed assurance that all will end well. I pray loneliness vanishes like a shadow in the face of warm light, and confusion melts into certainty. Even it is only for an hour, may this person be blessed in such a way that the memory will be a candle ever after, no matter how deep the darkness.” Then he would smile, nod, and continue on with his business.
I myself have never had the guts to actually attempt using this approach, but I am seriously considering it.
I think one thing the so-called “Elite” don’t like about the middle class, and especially the lower middle class, is that they are happier than the Elite are. The Elite don’t like being reminded that money can’t buy happiness, although the tale of King Midas facing starvation because everything he touched turned to gold, and his grief when he even turned his daughter to gold, goes back to ancient Greece. Also Jesus stated “Blessed are the Poor” and “It is easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven.” Yet people never seem to learn.
Recently a certain branch of the Elite have taken their dislike of the middle class to a degree where they seem to be using the coronavirus as a screen for an effort to eradicate the middle class, by closing small businesses and banning public gatherings. However a group of old geezers I am part of simply met anyway. If churches are closed we simply joined “small groups” and “Bible studies”, and if taverns were shut we had coffee in private. And I enjoyed it and was happy, which likely would make the Elite madder, if they saw it. But I figured that, as an ex-smoker, I was one of the old fossils they are attempting to guilt everyone else into wearing masks to protect, and therefore I must be the most important person, (not a VIP but the MIP), and concluded anyone worth ruining the economy of the entire nation for should be allowed to have coffee with other MIPs.
I would call us a group of grumpy old men, only we laugh too much.
This morning we found ourselves discussing the current panic about shortages of gasoline, comparing it to the shortages of toilet paper which occurred a few months back. The consumption of gasoline is up 36%, though people are not driving 36% farther. We compared this to the huge increase in purchases of toilet paper, though people were not pooping all that much more.
To some degree such hoarding behavior is like the wise ant preparing for the shortages of winter, as opposed to the lazy grasshopper just fiddling, but on the other hand it seemed to be a display of worry.
Worry is based on fear and lack of faith, and these are not among the higher human attributes. Also worry is tainted with greed. I mused that such worry may even be what causes the Elite to become what they are. They want to be “safe”, and amass more and more and more stuff, even if it causes shortages and causes others to go without. The result, to their bafflement, is that they are miserable, while those who are going without are mysteriously happy.
Looking back over the years, I have never qualified as rich, ever since I left the privileged suburb I grew up in, and often have been penniless, yet have been happier, I think, than many of the Elite. I raised five children who are not on drugs, and have seven grandchildren, with three more on the way. I still am living hand-to-mouth, yet feel blessed. What do I have the Elite lack? It must be faith. Faith is the cure to worry.
Too often people feel they would be happy if only they had more money, or gasoline, or toilet paper, and this leads them to misbehaving, like people sometimes do at a Sale in a store when items are in short supply. In some Sales people get in fights over rediculous things like undergarments, having tug-of-wars that tear the garment and render it useless to either person. In fact a sales technique is to stir up such greed and panic with phases such as “supply limited” and “Sale ends at midnight.” The best salesman can convince people they desperately need what they don’t.
Then you watch people who succeed in getting what they so deeply desired, and it is amazing how unhappy they become, though there may be an initial time of elation. The successful artist lolls in the limelight of riches and fame, and then later you see them arrested and disgraced. (Randy Travis springs to mind.) Then one sometimes sees them rescued from ruin by a spiritual awakening. (Johnny Cash springs to mind.) Or one sees a person win a million in the lottery, and their life be utterly ruined by the money.
As I sat with my group of old men I spoke of what I have learned as I moved from privileged unhappiness to blessed poverty. (They have to put up with me going on about a novel I’m happily scribbling called, “Phatty Buggers”, which describes this education). I said we need a word for the spiritual poverty of spirit the Elite unwittingly embrace, and the needless pain they suffer. I tried out a few words like “Eliteobia” and Wealthitis,” when a friend suggested, “Affluenza.”
“That’s It!” I bellowed, and was vigorously pumping his hand for coining such an excellent word when he said he hadn’t coined it.
The earliest use we could find, as we consulted various search engines, was from a PBS show in 1997.
Of course, this being PBS, they took the socialist tack. They tend to suggest we should feel guilty for success and prosperity. It almost is as if a farmer should feel guilty for growing a good crop, as if hard work was an example of greed. In actual fact they are two quite different things.
Money is not the problem, but love of money is. Love of money involves the worry I was talking about earlier, and drives people to sacrifice good elements of life for mere “stuff”. People prioritize the wrong things, making life unlivable in the name of “safety”.
For example, part of my childhood involved having scabs on my knees. Likely there were more days I had scabs on my knees than days I didn’t. However some are so over-protective of children, and worry so much, that they want to bubble-wrap childhood, inadvertently depriving their children of much of the fresh air and exercise they need. At the same time, wishing to “educate”, they make children feel environmentalism means nature is so fragile one should never walk in the woods for fear of harming moss by treading a path, which denies children the wonders of communing with nature, and even to feeling they are enemies of nature, and nature hates them. I was so appalled by such childrearing that I started my Childcare on a farm, to oppose such worry.
Of course I faced some opposition. How dare I say scabs were a good thing to have on knees!? What sort of cruel monster was I !? All I could do at first was say they could go to another Childcare, if they wanted their kid to grow up to be a…..(At this point my wife would usually intervene, asking me to go fix a fence on the far side of the farm. She was far more skilled at diplomacy.)
So was Kim John Payne. He tended traumatized children in refugee camps until he himself was traumatized, and sought escape by tending privileged children in wealthy neighborhoods, and to his astonishment and dismay became aware privileged children were suffering the same ailments as refugees. In 2010, about two years after we began our Childcare, he published his scientific conclusions:
In essence Kim John Payne’s book states less is more. How many times do we need to rediscover this? Is it not what Jesus stated when he said, “Blessed are the poor?”
In conclusion, we need to stand up to Affluenza. Do not allow the media to push your buttons and trigger panic. Not that you shouldn’t top off your gas tank, but you shouldn’t do so in a tizzy. Have faith. In God We Trust. And fight off the tendency to worry, (though, as Robin Williams discovered, it can be the most difficult thing).
As I begin this post it is Christmas Eve and a warm south wind is picking up. The piles of powder snow are wilting as only the most fluffy snow can wilt.
A few mornings ago the thermometer registered zero at dawn, (-17 degrees Celsius), and the fluffy snow wasn’t wilting a bit. Instead a storm that didn’t even show on weather maps drifted over. The weather map didn’t even show the orange-dashed-line indicative of an upper air disturbance.
As this disturbance passed over it gave us an extra inch of snow lighter than Pablum (before you add the water); fluff so unsubstantial that you could see through an inch of it, to the outline and brown color of a dead oak leaf that landed atop the prior powder before the current fluff fell. Meteorologists would note the snow had a 25:1 ratio, which basically means a bare .04 inches of what would have been rain crystalized into slightly over a inch of snow. Conversely, such snow has so little water-content that a bright sunbeam can turn an inch into .04 of an inch, which is turning something into next to nothing.
However before the sunbeams strike, such snow is not next to nothing. It is snow atop snow, and seems like adding insult to injury. With one’s muscles already aching from removing the prior foot, even a mere inch seems like mountains made of a molehill. Tires spin when one has last minute Christmas shopping to do. The dust of fluff makes one quiver in an un-Christmassy snit. The puff of snow is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. One needs a crow to shake the snow from a hemlock branch into one’s face, hitting one in the chops like a slapstick pie, to give one a change of mood. One needs a miracle.
It is now Christmas Day and the snow is all gone. The snow now is more than next to nothing; it is utterly nothing. The storm that moved north to our west has done a magic trick with south winds and warm rain.
Perhaps that is this year’s Christmas miracle: The snow that had plows out all night long, battling to keep roads open, has been disappeared by a snow-removal which has done far more than men’s plows can (merely shove the white burden to the curbs), and has even removed snow from the hills.
The Alarmists, of course, leapt from old worry to new worry, for the brooks all rose. With the rain combining with the snowmelt, we experienced a Christmas freshet. There were flash-flood warnings, but I didn’t heed them.
I drove about after the morning-unwrapping-of-gifts and before the afternoon-feast, simply admiring the bounding brooks, all at bankful, or just above, flooding a few low parking lots and the lower spaces in riverside campgrounds, but closing no streets. Temperatures were balmy for December, up around sixty (16 Celsius), and I drove with my windows open despite the rain.
In my eyes the freshet was also a Christmas miracle. What the Alarmists forget was how worried they were about drought and low well-levels only a month ago, when our rainfall totals for the year were more than ten inches below normal. I counted it a blessing to have it pouring on Christmas, for wells were being replenished.
The Alarmists were also fretting about possible wind gusts to sixty mph (97 km/hr), and falling tree branches taking down power lines and leaving kitchens cold, just when roasts were sliding into ovens. Never happened. We did get some good gusts that made me feel foolish for driving with my windows open. Sheets of driving rain entered the driver’s side window and exited the passenger side, and I needed wipers on the inside of my windshield. It wasn’t the same as a crow shaking down a dust of snow from a hemlock tree, but made me chuckle all the same.
It is now late evening on Boxing Day, and I’m feeling a bit warm and fuzzy, even with my house in some ways trashed. I’ll be able to heat tomorrow morning without using wood, just by lugging all the wrapping paper strewn about down to the cellar stove and burning it. The ashes will likely contain heavy metals and therefore won’t go into my garden.
In the future, I suppose, Alarmists will have us all wrapping presents in white paper to avoid the hazards of heavy metals, but in the present tense I’m fairly certain the local “recycling center” will not separate wrapping paper from more ordinary paper, excessively worried about heavy metals. In fact one fellow who works at the center confided to me entire truckloads of paper, as well as big bins of plastic and glass, are not recycled at all, when the price drops too low, and instead it is all trucked south to a massive “landfill” in Massachusetts where it is buried by bulldozers in dirt. If this is truly the case, then they likely appreciate that, rather than bringing them twelve huge trash bags of paper and cardboard, I bring them a small sack of ashes which I refuse to use in my garden.
It is amazing to me the heat generated by burning twelve big bags of paper and cardboard in a cellar stove. It only lasts around an hour, but the stove glows cherry red and the wooden floors upstairs become much nicer to walk upon, as the cellar becomes much less dismal and dank. It will not last, unless I add wood to the cellar stove (which I do when temperatures drop below zero [minus 17 Celsius]). But what is most applicable to this essay is the fact such a large amount of paper, literally three trips by car to the recycling center, is reduced to ashes I can carry to the trash in a small sack while whistling Dixie. Just think of all the gasoline I’ve saved by not driving, and the propane saved by generating heat burning paper in my basement. Surely the environmentalists will be pleased…..(not).
At this point, if I was clever, I would compare the huge amount of snow-removal avoided, simply by shifting winds from north to south and changing over an inch of snow to a mere .04 inches of water, with the huge amount of trash-removal avoided by heating your home for an hour with cardboard boxes and wrapping paper. However I have feasted more than is wise, and my paunch is bloated, and therefore my mind is less sharp than usual, so I won’t display such wit.
Later —- Instead I will simply add that life could be far simpler if Alarmists didn’t make everything so difficult. For example, life is much easier if you don’t walk around wearing silly masks which do no good, according to six peer-reviewed articles in the New England Journal Of Medicine and the English medical publication The Lancet. Yet Alarmists insist upon making what should be easy be hard.
Down in Boston, Alarmists became concerned about the salt spread on roads for snow removal, which made some sense for we don’t want salt in our wells and drinking water. However Boston’s streets largely were drained by storm drains which discharged into Boston Harbor, which was salty to begin with. This process was hurried along on snowy winters by front-end-loaders which filled dump trucks which drove to the harbor and dumped the snow into the water, but Alarmists made this illegal, claiming it hurt the ecosystem. Consequently mountains of snow would build up in parking lots and along curbs, clogging drains and causing street-flooding and, in the end, melting in the spring and winding up in the ecosystem anyway. The problem made me roll my eyes. To me it seemed that what should have been done was to determine if the road salts contained any “additives” which were actually harmful, and to ban those “additives”, but instead snow-removal itself was banned, which seemed a typical Alarmist case of overkill. It made life in the city far harder, especially a half decade ago when Boston had four snowstorms in a row. Once again Alarmists were making life harder.
But one thing about humans is that they are endowed with a creativity that finds a way, even in seemingly impossible circumstances, to make life easier. Sometimes life is even made more enjoyable.
For example, over a century ago, when the snow got deep, rather than remove it they brought out massive horse-drawn snow-rollers and pressed the snow flat.
Then people would park their wagons and take out their sleighs, or, if they couldn’t afford sleighs, they’d take the wheels off their wagons and attach runners. Then people glided about, making fond memories and songs about how fun it was, until snow turned to slush and you experienced what was called “rough sledding.” In any case it was ingenuity which made life easier.
The modern example of this ingenuity was a snow-melting-gadget some clever fellow invented which drives about above roaring propane burners, melting all the snow. It uses enormous amounts of propane, and costs something like $5000.00 an hour to rent, but Alarmists couldn’t complain because all the water running into the storm drains had no salt in it. The big-city parking lots treated by this gadget were clean and dry without any piles of snow around them. The bottom line was it was cheaper than plows, plus front-end-loaders, plus dump trucks, plus court battles with environmentalists. In fact it made life easier, and the gadget was, in the eyes of some businessmen, a blessing and even a Christmas Miracle.
One definition of “a Christmas miracle” is a hardship made easy. For example, one is ill, but wakes up well. One is exhausted, but gains a “second wind.” One is hungry, but is fed. One is freezing, but finds a friendly fire. One is oppressed, but is liberated. One is sick of wearing silly masks, and has the audacity to take them off.
I actually prefer Christmas miracles of a more stunning and supernatural-seeming kind. For example, as I explained in prior posts, one year I desperately needed five dollars, and then a five-dollar-bill blew across a parking lot and stopped at my feet on Christmas Eve. That was so amazing that to this day I don’t expect anyone to believe it actually happened.
Equally stunning, to my way of viewing life, was that a bum like me could abruptly become the father of three. That was a miracle in and of itself, and I felt asking for more would be ungrateful. Here is a picture of me with my future wife and children, when I was ending my time of sleeping in my car, and beginning my time as the patriarch and provider of a family of five. All who knew me were deeply concerned, for they felt I was about to precipitate a disaster.
Soon afterwards there came a Christmas eve when all three children were crabby and in no mood to help me get them to a Christmas Eve church service, where I had to be on time because I was part of a choir and relatively important, for I had to sing a brief solo. As I ushered the whining, miserable children a bit forcibly out the front door and down the front steps I recall my wry sense of humor kicking in, and rolling my eyes to heaven and saying it was enough of a miracle that a bum like me should have such problems, and I certainly should not expect more. And it was just then I received that year’s Christmas miracle.
I don’t expect anyone to believe it happened, but what happened was this: As I ushered the resentful, fretful children down the steps I think the pompom on my hat bumped against the wind-chimes that hung at the side of that porch, and those chimes played the first notes of a carol so distinctly my jaw dropped. Just guessing, it may have been the first nine notes of “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear.” Whatever it was, it was far too many notes, played too perfectly, to be easily dismissed as “coincidence”, and made me feel warm all over. Under my breath I think I said something like, “Lord, that was utterly awesome, but I think I might have preferred a five-dollar-bill.”
This year I kept my eyes wide open, for I was expecting the supernatural, but, to be honest, all I saw was a foot of snow vanishing between sunset and sunrise, and that is easy to scientifically explain.
I also saw my family expanded by thirty years of living. This too is easy to scientifically explain, and Alarmists will likely complain and worry about “over population.” My immediate family now looks like this:
This picture is from less than two months ago, as my youngest son was married in California. Please notice we wear no masks. Please notice we are not “social distancing.” Especially notice the old geezer in the middle is myself, a fool who smoked for 40 years who now suffers from COPD, who everyone should be avoiding, to keep me from getting the coronavirus, but, lastly, notice I would rather die than be separated from my family by Alarmists.
I’m the one who must die when it is time for me to die, so shouldn’t anyone ask me my opinion? Do I want the schools closed, for me? No. Do I want the churches closed, for me? No. Do I want the small businesses bankrupted, for me? No. Do I want dying elders denied family at their deathbeds, for me? No. So who wants such things?
Alarmists is who. They prefer making things difficult.
Without going into a very long sidetrack explaining Alarmists, I’ll simply point out my life disproves their logic. In some ways it seems the reason for my existence. To get from there to here involves what I personally believe is a miracle, for it involved beauty I cannot take credit for.
Go back to that first picture, when my family only numbered five, and realize how alarmed me and my wife-to-be made Alarmists. We nearly instantly decided we’d marry, but only confessed to each other after ten days, but we knew people would be alarmed if we told them we were going to marry after knowing each other so briefly. So we decided to keep it a secret, until they might be more approving. Yet the absurdity is we decided to keep our secret for a further 21 days. It seemed a very long time, to us, but to Alarmists? Actually, to be honest, I think they would have only have been pleased if we never married. There would never be a picture of a family of five, let alone a picture of a family of seventeen.
Thirty years have passed since I alarmed the Alarmists. If I was allowed the time to go into the details of the struggle my wife and I have seen this post would expand several hundred, or perhaps thousand, pages, but let me leave that for future posts, and simply state I called the Alarmist’s bluff. They stated I couldn’t, but I did.
Not that I did it alone. I relied on faith, on my belief in Christmas Miracles. I knew I was just a bumpkin, but had faith in Something Higher, and look what has happened! One Christmas I’m sleeping in my car as alone as alone can be, and another I’m the patriarch of a rather large and fascinating crowd of seventeen, encompassing three continents.
Alarmists cannot point at such increase as proof of their success. In fact they can only point at decrease. Abortion is only an example. They base decisions on the premise life will be worse if there is more of it. The exact opposite is the Truth.
The coronavirus has killed some who my friends know, but hasn’t hurt anyone I myself actually know. Yet the political response has hurt just about everybody. Hardworking people who were gainfully employed have been abruptly unemployed, as small businesses have been ruined. Those of us who have been lucky enough to keep our small businesses functioning have had to do what we can, to help the less fortunate.
You may ask, “Why bother?” After all, it is not my problem. If the government wants to destroy the middle class, and make them all dependent on government assistance, is it not the government’s job to provide welfare? Why should I help, if the government is so determined to destroy self-resiliency and create a welfare state?
The answer seems to be that governments stink, when it comes to caring. I’m not exactly sure why they stink, but it seems to have something to do with actually caring for the people they claim they care for. I have a suspicion many bureaucrats are more selfish than selfless, and care more for themselves than those they are suppose to help, but, for whatever reason, it always takes me around ten phone-calls to find that rare and wonderful individual who works for the public and actually cares for the public, which suggests 90% don’t. What this means is that eventually you find yourself faced with a person the government is suppose to care for, but has failed to care for. At that point it is up to you. You, and not the government, must provide the welfare.
It would be easy to refuse to care if, like the government, you didn’t know the people you were dealing with, but we do know people. Some aspect of knowing a person involves caring. This is most obvious when it is an actual family member.
Some in government like to say we should be equal, and should care for all equally, but in fact many of them care more for their job than the people they supposedly serve. They may look down a long nose and say that if you care for your family you are guilty of nepotism, but they themselves are guilty of selfism. Their selfism is why you, and not the government, must provide the welfare.
This is not to say a person can’t exhaust even their own family’s patience, if they mooch too much. I know this because I did it. When in my twenties I was so dedicated to poetry that I put writing before working, and people got fed up with funding a person who wanted to sit about nibbling an eraser all the time. They wouldn’t loan me a single penny more, which forced me to compromise and get a Real Job. It was humiliating for a great, 29-year-old poet like myself to go work with teenagers in a California burger joint, but I was out of cigarettes, and it is amazing what an addict will do for a smoke.
It turned out to be great fun to work with teenagers, and my poetry benefitted rather than being crushed, (which would have been a self-fulfilling fate, the demolition of poetry, a “burying of talents”, which I dreaded and I warned against.) Not that I had time to write much, but in actual fact rather than dried up I was like an old-fashioned pen sucking up ink from an inkwell. I sponged up information for future tales (including this one).
I could make you laugh with tales about the antics of California teenagers, but the person I worked with at the burger joint, who I choose to use for this essay, was seventy-six years old. He was fat, had a bulbous nose, a rather expressionless face (most of the time), pale blue eyes which were usually non-committal but could abruptly twinkle, wisps of thinning gray hair swept back in a comb-over, had to wear the same silly, checkered shirt and hat of the fast-food place that I wore, and looked as ridiculous as I looked. I imagined some sad tale must lie behind an old man like him landing himself in such a humiliating situation, and like a good reporter I started questioning, to see if I could dig up the details of what I assumed must be a tragedy.
He was a retired steel worker from Pittsburg, from a large Polish family that immigrated to the United States in 1908 when he was two. He started working at the steel mills at age sixteen in 1922, and retired in 1972 after fifty years, at age sixty-six. He had savings and a healthy pension, and he and his wife had spent the last decade doing all the things they dreamed of, until they were all done and just wanted to stay “home”, which they had moved from Pittsburg to California, but then he got bored, and his restlessness was driving his wife nuts, so he decided to get a job at a burger joint for the fun of it.
I was incredulous, for a number of reasons. For one thing, I could not imagine getting a job for the fun of it, because, even though I enjoyed the teenagers at the burger joint, walking through the door each day was like walking through the door of a dentist’s office to have a tooth pulled. Fun? After the eternity of six weeks I felt like I was at my limit. I was gasping for escape. The idea of working the same job for fifty years was utterly beyond my comprehension.
Usually I try to flatter the people I interview, but some of my incredulity must have leaked out. Perhaps I said something like, “Fifty years! That’s amazing! Didn’t you ever get bored?” The old man’s answer surprised me.
He told me his hard-working Polish family didn’t approve of him sticking with a blue collar job, though his steel-worker’s pay was decent for 1922. They felt he should show more initiative. One brother had started picking rags and selling second-hand clothes, and now owned a store that sold fine jackets to the rich. Another began by banging nails and now was a house builder with an entire crew of workers. A sister began as a waitress and now owned her own coffee shop and bakery. Three other siblings began as tellers and a janitor at a bank but proved so honest, intelligent and trustworthy they had climbed to positions in offices of the bank. But he liked the steel work. He said the molten steel was like being in a fireworks display inside a volcano, and he just plain liked the grit and grime of it all, and knowing he was part of what built battleships and skyscrapers.
Then the year 1929 came around, and the market crashed. Banks closed and businesses went under, and one by one his siblings lost their businesses and jobs, until he was the only one left working. The bank repossessed houses, and his siblings moved in with him, until his house was a crowded Polish commune, with many looking for work, and some finding brief jobs, but him as the central pillar. For almost a decade he was the rock that held the rest up. The unemployment rate in Pittsburg rose past 25%, but he kept right on working at the steel mill right through the Great Depression. Then World War Two came, and steel became very important, and he got many in his family jobs at the mill for the duration. Then the war was over, and the family spread out and moved away, but no one ever mocked him ever again, for being the one who worked in a mill.
I remember looking at his face as he told me this tale, as we mass-produced several hundred hamburgers and cheeseburgers, side by side during a lunch rush. His gnarled hands worked swiftly, on a sort of automatic pilot, as his blue eyes looked far away, but what struck me most was the serenity in his face. It was the look of a man who knows he has done good.
As I slouched home from work that day I had the feeling God put that unlikely old man into a burger joint full of teenager’s, just to humble me. After all, formerly I felt people who worked for a pension were “selling out.” They lacked the nerve I imagined I had, when I sacrificed the security of a steady paycheck for “art”. However, when I came right down to it, could I say I had done good, like the old Polish steel worker had done good? How had I helped my family, by mooching off them?
The best I could do was grumble, “Some day I’ll be famous, and then they’ll be sorry.” But what about the old man? Was he ever famous? Not beyond his own home. But he had something I lacked.
Now it is thirty-eight years later, and, unless that steelworker has lived to a robust age of one-hundred-fourteen, he is long gone, but he has come ghosting back through my mind because I’m getting a hint of his serenity. Due to the financial ruin caused by the coronavirus I find myself put in shoes where I must supply the caring. I give to three churches, and also to two daughters, a son-in-law, three grandchildren, and a mother-in-law, who are in need. At a time when I thought my house would be getting quiet with everyone moving out, everyone seems to be moving back in. I remember the old Polish steel worker, and a smile twitches irony on the corners of my lips, because of something he forgot to tell me: Sometimes serenity can get pretty noisy.
Irony has a delicious aspect, when karma is involved. There is something downright hilarious about a notorious moocher like myself finding himself mooched-upon in his old age. Turn-about is fair play.
I keep telling myself there is something very cool about having four generations in the same house, but at times it is something like saying “I don’t believe in ghosts” while walking through a graveyard at midnight. The racket can reach ridiculous levels. (Did I mention that my mother-in-law brought her dog. A small dog. A talkative dog.)
Because I run a Childcare, and work with small children, a normal day can involve distractions which make it hard to have a train-of-thought more than fifteen seconds long. I have a need for peace when I get home, and once upon a time I was able to sit in quiet and enjoy trains-of-thought hours long. No longer. They say a man’s home is his castle, but coronavirus has made my home a refugee camp.
Some wonder why I do not post as much about arctic sea-ice. It boils down to the ability to concentrate. When I have a map of sea-ice-thickness on my computer screen, and am sagely stroking my chin contemplating the map, a six-year-old is prone to come bounding in and plop herself in my lap and state, “I want to see the YouTube about the elephants saving the wildebeest from the crocodile.” It does little good to say, in such situations, “Wouldn’t you rather see some arctic sea-ice?” Concentration on the topic you planned to focus on is impossible.
The Good Lord helps us, when it comes to suffering the slings and arrows of small children, with a wonderful defense children have. It is difficult to strangle them even when they deserve it, for they are cute. Sadly, a little girl has no such defense when she is eighty-two.
My mother-in-law is only fifteen years older than me, because my wife is so young, which makes her close enough to being-a-peer to be interesting. Part of my concentration is displaced into wondering, “Not many years from now I may be in her shoes; how will I behave?”
She has always been a very independent and active woman, which has its bad side. She tends to do what she wants without deeply considering the feelings of other. In a sort of reaction, my wife is amazing, when it comes to considering the feelings of others. If you punch your fist into your palm, my mother-in-law is the fist and my wife is the palm.
Not that the two don’t share some attributes. My wife can be a bulldozer, when it comes to being independent and active in a caring way. And my mother-in-law is caring in that she never forgot to send a family member a card on their birthday, often from some exotic place where she was hiking or kayaking.
She was definitely enjoying her retirement to the hilt. How active was she? Well, she didn’t just wear out her hips and require two hip replacements, but she wore out her hip replacements and had to have them replaced as well. (She had excellent health insurance that paid for it all). She never actually paddled a kayak up Niagara Falls, but she was having a grand old time with her retirement, asking us to be amazed over all the wonderful fun she was having, but never expressing much interest in my struggles. (Part of being independent and active involved minding your own business).
Then fate became cruel, and something broke down which cannot be replaced like a hip (yet). It was her eyesight, due to what is called “macular degeneration”. She was just as strong, and just as vigorous, and just as independent and active, but was less and less able to see what she what she was doing. Against her own will, this independent woman had to depend on others for more and more. Could fate be more cruel?
Of course, a fiercely independent woman fights such dependence. She drove long after it was wise, one time describing to me how driving down a shady avenue was mostly blackness with a few light places she could see. But eventually even she had to admit she should give up her driver’s license, and lose all the independence involved with such a privilege.
Skipping soap-operatic details, eventually this old lady arrived at my doorstep. I attempt to display the fruits of the spirit, but it is difficult, and I have to fight the urge to be crabby.
For example, as an active woman my mother in law likes to go for a walk with her yappy dog, even though she can barely see. She thinks she is walking along the line at the side of the highway. It is actually the line down the middle of the highway. In a small town, such news gets back to me. What am I to say?
I say nothing. I don’t want trouble. I work behind the scenes, and it is my daughter, who has the knack of being forthright with her grandmother, who tells the old woman townsfolk are talking about her walking down the middle of the state highway with her dog, and that perhaps she should stick to the side roads. After much grumbling, the old matriarch concedes.
But even though I say nothing to her face, I get they feeling I am part of a ruthless Gestapo the poor old lady is up against, called “reality”. It is reality that is oppressing her independence, and telling her she can’t even walk her dog as she’d like.
I resent being associated with the Gestapo. I am far more tollerant than the Gestapo was prone to be. I am just an old fellow who is trying to concentrate on arctic sea-ice, distracted by an old lady in the background who is having long conversations with her yappy dog.
She also has conversations with herself, which I try not to listen to. It is rude to eavesdrop. But it is hard not to hear. Especially when she is talking to herself about my shortcomings. For example, because she finds it harder and harder to see, she tends to crash-into and trip-over things, and may mutter, “What a stupid place to leave boots.”
Those boots are my boots. I become indignant, because I am not a wicked Gestapo snickering as he leaves boots about to trip up old matriarchs with. In fact I take off my boots and leave them beside the door because I am considerate towards my wife. But I bite my tongue and resolve to find a better place for boots. Then I wonder, “Where was I? Oh, yes. Arctic sea-ice.” But just then I hear a loud splanging sound, and she says, “What a stupid place for a piano.”
I keep telling myself to have compassion, because it must be a living hell to go blind, but being compassionate makes it hard to sit and concentrate. Sometimes I’ve even heard breaking glass in the distance. At that point I have to leave the subject of arctic sea-ice and go to see what is going on.
Sometimes her coffee cup gets pushed from where it usually is, beside her personal coffee maker, to a point eighteen inches back. But she can’t find it. Rather than asking for help she walks back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, rummaging with her hands and occasionally knocking things over, muttering to herself, until I helpfully ask, “Looking for something?” and then find her coffee cup for her. But in some ways I am the Gestapo even then, because I am embarrassing her by finding the cup eighteen inches from where she thought she left it.
At some point I am pushed past my breaking point, and tire of being tolerant. After all, it is my house, and a man should not be be accused of being the Gestapo for wanting to be at home. A man’s home is his castle. And, in the madness of an election year, I don’t even want to hear pro-Trump propaganda, (though I’ll vote for him), especially when I am trying to concentrate on arctic sea-ice. I want silence, and peace, and quiet.
My mother-in-law wants noise in the background. Maybe she’s lonely. But she likes her TV blaring, and usually has it on programs (CNN or “The View”) which spew anti-Trump election-year propaganda, which (in my humble opinion) contain such immoral misinformation and rot they seem designed to reduce minds to cesspools. How am I to concentrate on arctic sea-ice?
If I was the Gestapo I’d shoot her TV. (In actual fact I helped her set up the accursed TV, because I quit watching such rot ten years ago.) But I am so rude as to politely ask her to turn it down, and close the door. I do so over and over, because she forgets, and opens the door, walking back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, restlessly looking for something.
I suppose I come across as intolerant. And a nag. She has long been free and independent, and is unaccustomed to anyone assuming they have power over her TV. So, like it or not, I am oppressive, and the Gestapo.
My granddaughter also deems me the Gestapo, though she does not know the word. She scowls at me when I lay down the law. For example, one rule I have stated, as autocratic patriarch of the household, is, “Thou shalt play in the yard, and never in the house”. (Admittedly dogma, but it avoids broken vases.) When I state this decree, I get pouted at.
Now, If I was respected, such a rule would be respected, and you might think my mother-in-law would approve of a elder, a grandfather, such as I am, being respected. However, apparently because she herself in some ways sees me as the Gestapo, my mother-in-law decided it would be noble behavior, like the French Underground’s, to break such an oppressive rule, and she set about corrupting my granddaughter, by getting her to play in the house.
At this point it gets very hard to concentrate on arctic sea-ice. Instead it becomes very interesting to just sit back and listen to the conspiracy to undermine my authority, going on in a way I can overhear.
Mind you, my mother-in-law should know better. She already undermined my authority by seducing my dog. My dog is quite spoiled to begin with, (fed more than people in Africa with two meals a day), but my mother in law decided I was abusing her and my dog needed extra treats. My dog agreed. Soon my dog wouldn’t leave her alone. In the background, as I tried to write about arctic sea-ice, I could hear her tell my dog to leave her alone, and quit stealing her little, yappy dog’s food. Only when my dog snarled at her little yappy dog did I arise from my serenity of arctic sea-ice and become the Gestapo, (in my dog’s opinion), by exiling the faithful cur to a chain in the back yard. She gave me a very hurt look. After all, it was her house first.
So of course I was interested when I overheard the same corruption of my authority begin with my granddaughter. I knew from the start the results would not be good, but sometimes you need to allow others the freedom to learn for themselves.
As I attempted to concentrate on arctic sea-ice I overheard my mother-in-law inform her great-granddaughter, “Did you know you can make a hula hoop be a jump rope”?
This is a wonderful transmission of information between generations, when done outside. But within a cramped cottage it is less than wise. I found it interesting to sit back and, rather than concentrating on arctic sea-ice, to concentrate how my mother-in-law saw the rot setting in.
It happened like this: When my granddaughter made a hula hoop be jump rope, my dog found it exciting, and began barking. This prompted my mother-in-law to order my dog to be silent, which caused her little cur to start yapping, at which point my granddaughter decided a hula hoop could also be a lasso to control dogs with. The dogs did not approve, nor did my mother-in-law, at which point my granddaughter decided a hula hoop could be a lasso used to control great-grandmothers. Deciding enough was enough, I, as patriarch, arose from my view of arctic sea-ice, took three steps to the next room, and cleared my throat with the great word, “Ahem.”
All involved immediately looked very guilty. I wondered, why should they, when all I said was, “Ahem”? I was not wearing my Halloween wig, nor my best look of outrage:
Come to think of it, my granddaughter’s expression was similar, even though I had caught her red-handed lassoing her great-grandmother with a hula hoop. But most amusing to me was how my mother-in-law responded. Even though she herself had created the chaos, she, with a hula hoop behind her neck tugging her forward, and making her hunchback, seemed to think she could pretend she played no part in the ruination they had made of the room. She turned to her great-granddaughter, raised her index finger, and scolded, “No rough housing! You should only play with hula hoops outside.”
I hope this fully explains why I haven’t concentrated on sea-ice in a while. I blame the coronavirus, and think back to the old Polish steel worker I worked with in the burger joint in California. If he looked back to his chaotic household in Pittsburg with serenity, I can imagine looking back the same way, at my current situation. In some ways the coronavirus is a modern version of the Great Depression, (albeit far more artificial, and likely to end with the election.)
When we first married my wife and I shared a coffee cup with a cartoon on it that portrayed two sad-looking kittens sharing an umbrella in pouring rain, with the motto, “This too will pass.” A day will come when my house is quiet once more.
In fact it may come sooner than I expect, for I notice a young (to me) man seems interested in my daughter, and she has a certain smile on the corner of her lips, and a softer light in her eyes.
This morning the first thing I thought about Was the way I’d chuckled in the corner Of a dream of a daughter. “I should shout, Or at the very least I should warn her” I yawned to myself, but instead was happy. Just let others live lives that are free. If I must slap, my fingers should slap me, For I’m not being the way I could be. The first thing I should do, waking from sleep, Is to worship the Lord, but my mind drifts To a dream’s corner, and into some deep Contemplation about how chuckling shifts My glacial heart. My eyes lift above And pray for God’s grace; my daughter’s in love.
When your house gets noisy, be careful about praying for silence. Your prayer may get answered. The young (to me) man swooped in and took my daughter and granddaughter north to pick apples and carve pumpkins and listen to a band play in the crisp autumn air.
My granddaughter’s gone. Now I get quiet I yearned for, but find I miss the imp. How often we desire, but soon sigh it Wasn’t what we thought. Logic seems to skimp Concerning essentials. Our foolish brains Are no good handling matters of the heart. I want the imp back. What old fart complains When given such bounding laughter to start A day with? Disruption’s a good thing. Being annoyed is actually a tonic. What poet wants a dawn where no birds sing? Such silence can make even sweet dawn sick. A poet’s most sad when he faces a dawn Missing the noise that he wished would be gone.
Also, at age 82, my mother-in-law is at a point where on any given morning she might not be down for breakfast. The fact of the matter is my situation of having four generations living in the same household is very tenuous. Therefore I try to see all the chaos as a rarity, and something to be cherished rather than loathed.
The coronavirus is apparently causing similar domestic chaos all over the country. The media like to focus on increases in domestic abuse and drunkenness, but I wonder if there might also be an increase in family bonding. While I will confess a slight uptick in my consumption of beer, and in my fits of crotchety behavior, I also notice a certain softening of my heart. Who knows? Perhaps the coronavirus may prove a blessing in disguise, in certain ways.
(At the very least it has increased my appreciation of peace and quiet, and the maxim, “Silence is golden.”)