MOAS ARE NOT EXTINCT!

The people of New Zealand will be surprised to learn of Moa in New Hampshire, and I can only explain my discovery by stating that the older captains of ships tend to be an eccentric lot, and, in order to prove that the tales they told of exotic creatures in foreign lands were not creations of their own fancy, they would bring specimens home with them.

Critics will say it was impossible for Moa to be brought to New Hampshire, as the Moa went extinct before the English arrived in either New Hampshire or New Zealand. To that I say, “Get off your high horse, Englishman.” (I am for the most part English, by the way.)

White, English men are hogging far too much of the blame these days, taking all the credit for all bad things that ever happened. It is unfair. Don’t other people ever get to feel guilty about anything?

The extinction of the Moa is one thing the English cannot take credit for (so far.) It apparently was entirely the result of the indigenous people, the Maori. They apparently arrived in New Zealand around 1280, and slaughtered all eleven species of New Zealand’s huge birds in as little as a hundred years. After all, when a man’s hungry, he’s hungry.File:Moa mock hunt.jpgThe next question is, how did the huge birds get to New Hampshire? The answer is obvious. Who transported huge animals in the 1300’s? It had to be the Chinese,  who built huge ships and may have transported enormous giraffe to China as early as the 1200’s, and certainly did so in the 1300’s.

 

The first settlers of Boston reported a huge rotted hulk of a ship across the Charles River from Boston Neck, “The Somerville Hulk”, which they supposed was Spanish because it was so much larger than any English or Dutch ship of that time. I assert it was a huge Chinese junk full of refugees that landed in the 1400’s, containing, among other oddities, some Moa. It is the Chinese influence that explains why the Massachusetts tribe was different from surrounding tribes, more prosperous and thickly settled, and also may genetically explain why they were so much more susceptible to the great pandemic of 1618.

When 20,000 Massachusetts died of the pandemic, and then 20,000 Puritans arrived to replace them in the next 20 years, the people in charge of the Moa fled to the hills of New Hampshire. Moa have been hiding in our hills ever since, the carefully guarded secret of locals who do not trust “flatlanders”, but the recent heavy rains of Hurricane Florence caused some Moa to be driven out of their normal habitat, and I found evidence of late season nesting at my Childcare.

 

These are nests of one of the smaller species, called the “Lawn Moa”.

Now I just need to convince my wife this grass is the protected habitat of an endangered species, and I should not cut it any more.

Wish me luck.

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NOT LOCAL —Deluge Camping—

My life is so tragic that I used to schedule two hours first thing every morning to cry my eyes out, but that got old after a while, so I decided to stop hanging around with poets. It was more fun to look back and laugh. So I suppose that makes me a humorist.

One tragic thing about my youth was that my Mom didn’t like camping. My Dad did a foolish thing, which was to take her camping on their honeymoon. He thought he might open her eyes to the beauty of nature. It poured. Years later, when he was a little wiser, he took her to the Caribbean. She stepped on a poisonous sea-urchin. Come to think of it, maybe Nature didn’t like my mother. When my Dad took her out mackerel-jigging she caught a sea-gull. It squawked and flapped about her face at the end of a hand-line, and she indignantly concluded only fools found joy in mackerel fishing. Nor did she like anyone finding joy in her discomfiture, but Dad did a foolish thing, which was to laugh.

After the divorce I was very careful to avoid the topic of camping. I was a sort of barefoot, suburban Huckleberry Finn, illegally fishing and skinny-dipping in the water supply of Harvard professors, and was briefly arrested at age eleven, but the officer had compassion and didn’t tell Mom. I had many other wonderful adventure that I didn’t dare share with Mom (at least until a sort of statute of limitations had passed) for I had concluded there were two types of people in the world. There were those who didn’t like camping…

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…and those who did.

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Back in my days as a bachelor and bum I did a lot of camping, for a tent was cheaper than an apartment. In 1987 I camped from May 1 to October 23. This presented me with a bit of a dilemma, for if I didn’t write my Mom she’d worry, (and I usually couldn’t afford a phone call.) The letters I then produced were masterpieces in the fine art of censorship. Every day camping was a sunny day, and rain was never mentioned.

After I surprised everyone by marrying and settling down, I got a surprise of my own, for it turned out my wife’s mother did like camping. I didn’t know that was legal for Moms to do, but she’s gone right ahead and done it.

As a young mother of five with a hot home, too poor to afford a summer house, she had moved to a campground by a lake each summer, perhaps to escape the heat or perhaps to escape vacuuming the house. Her husband would commute to work from the campground, and the kids rode their bicycles about and fished and swam to their hearts content. They don’t seem to remember any rain. The mother didn’t know what she was starting. It became a yearly event.

This year the lady, in her eighties, sat back and happily regarded her daughter and three sons, their four spouses, ten grandchildren, four grandchildren-in-laws, two step-grandchildren, two step-grandchildren-in-laws, six great-grandchildren, and two step-great-grand children, and likely thought about the ones who couldn’t make it this year.

It rained, of course. It seems to rain every year, but we count on the rain, and one of the first things we do is stretch out tarps between trees. I am proud to state I was the one who started this great tradition in 1991, and as the years have passed it has become a sort of art, as we’ve learned by making all sorts of mistakes. A tarp can turn into a spinnaker in a strong wind, and snap ropes, and also a tarp also can turn into a massive udder if  it catches rain and sags. Now we have learned all sorts of remedies, one of the best of which is to get old, so you can sit back and watch others clamber about in trees.

Only once did I arise this year, as the wise old man,  to show them the trick of tying a rope to a hammer and tossing it up over a branch, so you can skip the climbing, (which I didn’t learn until I was pushing fifty and getting tired of bringing an aluminum extension ladder camping, and saw a friend who was lazy demonstrate the hammer trick).  This year no one had a hammer so they used a hatchet. It added risk to the enterprise.

In the end we were ready for the rain. Here’s my area:

and here’s the main gathering area:

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In the old days we only had tents, and looked down our noses at RV’s, but a son and brother-in-law have gotten soft, and I must admit I don’t mind a bit of softness myself, though I can’t afford a RV. We also only cooked over wood fires in the old days, and while we still do a bit of that (under the high part of the tarp), the younger folk haul in all sorts of smokers and newfangled propane gadgets. I don’t complain, when faced with a spread like this:

I’m not sure we could have done as well if the winds had been high. Around five years ago we gathered in the gusty deluge of a former tropical storm, and as I recall we put off the gorging until the next day, but this year the feast was prepared despite downpours. It was interesting to see the smaller girls incorporate the water coming off the tarp into their play.

My wife strongly believes that, to acclimatize grandchildren to camping, you need to break them in early.

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We’ve been camping in the rain so long, nearly thirty years now, that we’ve watched an entire generation go from being this small to being stronger and richer than we are. I like to just sit back and contemplate the passage of time, but did get up and take part in a game of whiffle-ball when the rain let up for a bit, and now rue my brief ambition.  Within hours I was walking funny. But the former boys are now strapping young men who don’t stiffen up so quickly, and who itch for challenges, such as jumping into rivers from high places and being carried downstream.

This river is the Ashoelot, a geologically interesting backwater that flows down a channel made by a glacial flood. Usually it is fairly shallow,  but all the rain had its waters rising.Camping 9 IMG_7106

 

When we first arrived my dog L.C. (short for “Lost Cause”), (Animal Rights Activists think I’m calling her “Elsie”), had a great time annoying herons and geese on the river, which was a little higher than usual.

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But the clear, tea-colored water had risen three feet and turned to coffee by the second day.

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By the third day it had risen three more feet and gone dark again, and had the spin-drift suds that sometimes indicate pollution, but can also be natural, in swampy rivers.  The campground owner said the water was as high as he’d ever seen it. Driftwood shifted, with its colonies of greenery and crimson blooms.

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The men were smart enough to know you can’t jump in at the usual place, if you are unsure if driftwood has moved in, so they sent my nine-year-old  grandson down to swim around and see if he could feel any branches with his toes. The cheerful, young, eager-to-please chump fellow checked out the entire area under the embankment, which usually is around twelve feet tall. He said it was all clear. Then they asked him if the water seemed colder, and he shrugged innocently and said, “Maybe a little.”

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I wish I could show you the video of whqat followed. You see six big brawny men dash to the edge of the bank and leap whooping out into the river, make a tremendous splash, and then their heads emerge and they all simultaneously register the fact the water is twenty degrees colder. Not so manly, all of a sudden. As they drifted downstream you could have heard the shrieking a mile away.  (I looked suspiciously at my grandson. He was smiling noncommittally.)

Despite the fact they had disgraced themselves, in terms of machismo, some of the women wanted pictures of the young men “for a calendar.”

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Himph! No one asked me if I’d pose for a calendar. And I tell you, I’ve taken on all four of those fellows and whupped them with one hand behind my back……twenty years ago.

As the evening came on I sat in the light of the campfire listening to the patter of the rain on the tarp overhead, and the deluge became a flood of memory. I listened to the murmurs of conversation, snatches of laughter, and strumming of a guitar and thought about what a fool I was thirty years ago, when I decided I had God’s plan for me all figured out. I was camping all alone in the New Mexico desert, and expected to be single all the days of my life.

In fact I managed to convince myself that being alone was likely for the best.  Spirituality is all about renouncing the things of the world, and it would be far easier to renounce everything if I didn’t have anything. Just as it is far easier to be a teetotaler if you have no booze, it would be easier to be celibate without a babe. My “bad karma” was actually “good karma”.

Not so fast. (Though it did happen with astonishing speed.) In fact, when I told a spiritual friend I had married a mother-of-three I didn’t try to explain it, beyond saying, “I don’t know what happened.” Karma is like that. Just when you think you have things figured out you learn you’re just a chip on a mighty river.

It is also a little amusing how “good karma” becomes “bad karma”. When my wife was clobbered by morning sickness and I had three kids to care for it occurred to me that “family values” might not be all that they were cut out to be. Not that I had any desire to camp alone again. But I understood the irony of the Springsteen “Hungry Heart” lyrics:

Got a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack
I went out for a ride and I never went back,

There are times when leaving all worldly possessions has a definite appeal.  The Australian poet Francis Brabazon  describes a man who came to Meher Baba and offered to lay all his worldly possessions at his feet, namely, a wife and six kids.

However when Jesus said, “Leave all and follow me”, he didn’t mean just your “bad karma”. All means all. To be true follower you have to give up your “good karma”. Yikes. That is not so easy, when the kids who seemed like “bad karma” grow up and delight you by being “good karma” in a campfire’s wavering glow.

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It is no easy thing to truly give all to God. We are all addicts. But it helps when you reflect on how bankrupt you are without the gifts you have received from God. (I’m not sure where atheists think their talents and “luck” comes from.) It helps even more to believe God is love, and even “bad karma” holds compassion, though it may be a blessing very deeply disguised.

As a cancer survivor I know even accursed cancer can be a blessing, for it makes every day a treasure. One lives praying the doctor doesn’t deliver the bad news, “it’s back”. It is as if you are looking  around for the last time. Habits people have, which once annoyed you, become strangely endearing.

It is oddly ambiguous that, when we think we have control of our lives, we are full of complaining, but when we lose control we experience an overwhelming gratitude. Perhaps that explains (to some) why “leave all and follow me” is not really loss, but gain.

AVOIDING CIVIL WAR

This seems to be a time when it is important to stay calm and not to be provoked, for the inhabitants of the so-called “swamp” in Washington D.C. actually have no interest in preserving the peace. Why should they? Peace would involve exposure, for peaceful people have honest discussions, and honesty would expose a lot of corruption, which is how the name “swamp” was earned.

The corrupt have backed themselves into a corner, and therefore many will not do the spiritual thing, which is to publicly confess their wrong-doing. For if they were spiritual they would not have been corrupted in the first place. Therefore many will do the unspiritual thing when cornered, which is to fight like a cornered rat.

The thing that always amazes me is the ability the corrupt have to deny their own corruption. They often are oblivious of the way their greed has led them astray, even when it is blatantly obvious to others. “All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord.” (Proverbs 16:2)

In the case of communism the greed is justified in three ways. First, the highest spirituality is dismissed as “the opiate of the masses”, and atheism is put forward as being more pragmatic. Second, coveting what others own is justified as “sharing”, in some ways like Christians shared what they owned in the book of Acts, but in other ways by brute force, at the point of a gun, like a bank robber. Third, dishonesty is made to look positive because “the ends justify the means”.

The dishonesty always seemed most vile to me, especially when it involves using others, and laughing at them behind their backs. To use another as a “useful idiot” always seemed like a violation of trust to me. Furthermore the person most likely to be fooled is the person doing the tricking, because procrastination is a way we mortals have of never doing what we promise ourselves we will do “someday.” Therefore “the ends justify the means” is like a person buying cigarettes so he can seriously think about planning to quit; (the person will never quit by smoking, but it placates his uneasy conscience to “plan“.) Lastly, the “means“ get meaner and meaner, because the greed for power gets greater and greater. Stalin may have meant well, but he killed off more and more “partners“, erasing them from public pictures until he alone was pictured, for that was his “means” of effective control, good governance, and order. He was proof that “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

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Our Founding Fathers were well aware of how power corrupts, which is why they were so careful to devise a constitution that shares power between three branches of government, with checks and balances. Some in Washington want to escape the checks and balances, because it seems to obstruct efficient governance. Therefore they speak of the constitution as being an “evolving” document, which is just a way of trying to get around its constraints. They don’t want to be constrained, because they feel they know best, and others are not as wise as they are.

This is how corruption begins. One loses respect for being open and honest and discussing things with others in a respectful manner, and resorts to some form of dishonesty and disrespect. Rather than arriving at a decision based on higher Truth, back-room deals are made, involving bribes of one sort or another. Rather than what is best for all concerned, the focus becomes narrow: “What’s in this for me?”

When such rot sets in our nation is designed to expose it. A free press is suppose to be part of that exposure, but in our current crisis the press was purchased by the elite and all but emasculated. Were it not for the unexpected blooming of the internet in the past twenty years the free press would be dead. As it is the public became aware of how bad the corruption in Washington was becoming in the nick of time, and now a desperate battle has begun.

This is a battle between Truth and deceivers. The deceivers do not want to give up all that deceit has illicitly “earned” them. They think they know how the game is played, when in fact they have broken countless rules. They want to continue to play as they have played, unaware that they have broken so many rules they have created a sort of anarchy, and have undermined their own foundations, and are sawing off the very branch they are perched upon. If they studied history at all they would see that, if they “win”, they are likely to inherit horrors as bad as, or even worse than, the horrors they fear they’ll face if they “lose”, and have to give up all the perks of their corruption.

One attribute of the corrupt, and also of communism, is that there is a movement away from true sharing of power. It involves the mentality of all-or-nothing. Communism allows no other party besides the communist party, and corruption allows no alternative as well. It is a narrowing down of thought, a diminishing of the mind.

Because of this, communism prefers violence to civil discourse. It wants no checks and no balances. In order to eradicate opposition it seeks to “purge” differing views, and dislikes individuality. Individuality is abhorred because it differs, whether it differs as a person, or a family, or a community, or a state, or a nation. Communism seeks a “multiculturalism” that abolishes all nations, and therefore all cultures. All the talk about “respecting diversity” actually disrespects differences, when you look hard at what is actually stated. In the end what is wanted is not a cultured people, but culture-less masses.

A cultured people prefer to use civil procedures, to becoming a rabble that riots. The corrupt prefer a riot, and encourage riotous behavior, because if things get out of hand they may seize power in the name of “restoring order”, whereas civil procedure would expose their corruption and face them with reform.

Therefore it is important to stay calm and not be provoked. When faced by useful idiots chanting nonsense, point out the nonsense quietly. Over and over and over again. For many innocents have not thought all that deeply about what they do, and are largely being loyal to a cause. And one thing about the loyal is this: Once they discover they have been lied to, and are being used, and are laughed at behind their backs, they flip sides with astonishing alacrity.

Lastly, keep your sense of humor even when things look grim.

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LOCAL VIEW –Reason To Hope–

For a while the long range forecast was suggesting south winds would surge this far north, and temperatures would touch 70°F (21°C) this weekend, but now the forecast for Sunday is for snow.

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This sort of crashing disappointment is hard to bear, but I always turn my eyes north to Canada. They suffer worse winters and later springs. Surely they know how to handle such despair.

Yes the answer is to make a joke.

LOCAL VIEW –Grumpy Humor #287–

This appeared on a Facebook page called “Legal Insurrection”, and then on the “Ice Age Now” site. Apparently it is someone’s wry joke that is now going viral. Trump fixes Global Warming 29790811_10156289670494486_177478172852994533_n

So far April in the USA has been 4 1/2 degrees below normal in the USA, which is the coldest April since 1982. Here is a map from Joseph D’Aleo’s blog at the Weatherbell Site showing how much below normal it was yesterday.

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A slug of Gulf of Mexico heat will try to punch north, likely creating big storms and tornadoes down south towards the end of the week, but I doubt it will make it this far north. We just shiver and shudder and wait for May.

LOCAL VIEW –Wink–

Here is a picture of children not being obedient. I told them to wait. They are vanishing into the distance. (Actually this is a zoomed-in part of a larger picture; you can barely see them in the larger picture.)

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In a sense children are a lot like life. They refuse to follow the plan, and this can cause all sorts of different sorts of dourness to afflict us. One thing I’ve recently been noticing is the cure often isn’t words.

This is bad news for people like myself, who have invested a lot into the study of words. It is also bad news for people who don’t think talk is cheap, and make it expensive, such as psychiatrists. But again and again I’ve recently seen members of my staff, and the young parents who are my customers,  not only say a lot with a wordless gesture, but seem to solve a problem as well.

Solve a problem? Yes, because everything is stressed, and then, just by the way they roll their eyes, or give themselves a face-palm, they cause laughter to come to relieve the stress. This is bad news for the pharmaceutical industry.

I’ve been noticing this phenomenon so much that I’ve started to study it. As it is beyond words, I don’t suppose I can find the words to describe it, but sometimes poetry is within a glance. We say a person “beams” at us.  It makes me think we should observe silence from time to time, for otherwise words, whether spoken or written,  can become mere yammering. Silence is golden.

Most recently I saw this wonder within a wink. Not a word was spoken. A person just winked, and my heart was eased by a good laugh. It got me thinking, and looking backwards across the years…

…Musing backwards to days I spent drifting,
When shaving and showers were luxuries;
When shopkeepers thought I’d likely be lifting;
When hunger made appetite easy to please
And downwind of kitchens was Oh so delicious,
I couldn’t help look unworthy of trust.
One look at me made policemen suspicious.
I practiced innocent looks, or got cussed,
But one day I decided to risk arrest.
I saw a bored girl in a black limousine
And as I slouched by I gave her my best
Roguish wink. I wish you could have seen
Her sour face dawn a recalcitrant smile.
It made being a drifter completely worthwhile.

LOCAL VIEW –Some Pity, Please–

I didn’t heed financial advisers
So what I now own is my own fault.
I find I envy lonely old misers
Clinking their coins in a lonely old vault.
It’s not their coins I desire, but their quiet.

Quiet’s so rare I cannot conceive it.
In my house women rampage and riot.
Four generations! Can you believe it?

My friends who loved money gained fat pensions
And were without wives. All their cares were shed;
They should have known joy, without tensions.
Instead loneliness swiftly struck them dead.

Me? Don’t ask. I’ve no time to reflect.
I get no quiet. I get no respect.

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One interesting aspect of Rodney Dangerfield’s humor is that it is an appeal for pity, but rather than pity it earns laughter. (“I know I’m ugly. I’ve always been ugly. When I was born the doctor slapped my mother.”)

Within the laughter is a joy that laughs at our sorrows. It is a recognition that, despite all the evidence to the contrary, it is good to be alive. It sees the glimmer of God even in a devil of a day.

All the same, I wouldn’t mind some pity, at times. (Preferably cash.) However I have a bad habit of always comparing my lot to people who are worse off, and that spoils my ability to play the violins. I start out with the violins, and then have this strange urge to insert a tuba.

For example, as a writer I prefer quiet, but despite the fact all my children are grown I never seem to experience the so-called “empty nest.” I have taken to getting up in the middle of the night to write, for that is the only time it is really quiet. Consequently I often lack sleep, (even though I go back to bed, and get to sleep twice a night, whereas others only get to sleep once). When I get up to go to work I feel like death warmed over, and want some pity.

Then I compare myself to a person who actually was the most unfortunate person in the world, for a day. I’m referring to myself 33 years ago. I was spurned and broke and living in a desert campground, and wrote this unhappy song:

I think I am going to die soon.
I see a skull’s face in the full moon
And high in the sky hear a mad loon
Luting a lonely and sad tune.

Why am I staying here grieving?
Who do I think I’m deceiving?
Why am I staying here groaning?
Life’s just a way of postponing.

Some body some body
Ask me to stay.

All I need to do is remember the horrible loneliness of that mournful twilight and all the noise I experience now doesn’t seem so bad. However I figure that shouldn’t disqualify me from pity. Maybe I don’t deserve a whole concerto of violins, but a lone fiddle might be nice, once in a while.

Recently my mother-in-law deserved the pity because she couldn’t go to her warm place in Florida because she was recovering from an operation. I agreed that the sooner she went to Florida the happier everyone would be. Finally she was able to go, provided someone went along to help her open up her house. I was willing to sacrifice the beauty of snow for a bit, however I was too indispensable to my workplace to go. In the end my daughter took on the task, but that meant my wife and I had to watch our granddaughter, who is three.

My sleep was even more disrupted, for the small child had the habit of crawling into bed with my wife and I at all hours of the night. It was cute, the first time, but the little girl kicks a lot in her sleep. Also sometimes she’d wake before me, and seemingly decided my upturned face was a good road to drive her toy cars over. It was a strange thing to wake up to.

However it was a perfect thing, when it came to getting me some pity. When people asked me, “How’s it going?” I didn’t need to respond, “Fine, and you?” Instead I could answer, “Things are not good.”

This forces people to raise a sympathetic eyebrow, and ask “Oh?”

Then I could say, “I’m terribly run down. This morning I was run over by a cement truck.”

I would then look at them and wait for them to correct me, saying something like, “You mean you felt like you were run over by a cement truck,” but no one ever took the bait. Maybe they know me too well. Instead they tended to look curious, and wait.

So I’d add, “Can you believe it? An actual cement truck ran me over. I took a picture of it with my cell phone, and can prove it to you.  Here. Take a look:”

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