Scriptures advise us to repent. And I’m not talking about the stuff some fellows spout: “Did I ever confess that I once invited three girls to the same prom?” That is not confessing. That is bragging.

I am talking more along the lines of the things we do because we have been cowed by a bully. Sometimes the bully is the cravings of our own body, but quite often it is some big jerk we do not respect at all intellectually, but respect because we don’t like the pain of humiliation. The humiliation can take all sorts of forms, from being verbally mocked and scorned to being dumped headfirst into a wastepaper basket.

I was put ahead in school because I could read at an early age, and elders felt I’d be bored if I had to sit about with people learning to read when I already could read. It was assumed I would learn more by taking classes on subjects I didn’t already know about, and that the “challenge” would be good for me. Instead I ran headlong into a totally different challenge. For the next ten years I was generally the smallest boy in class, and also a year less emotionally matured, and this meant I faced persistent efforts on the part of my peers to shape me up. IE: They sneered a lot.

It wasn’t very fair, for there was nothing I could do about being a year younger, but I had to adapt in some way, and I think my way involved escapism. I became an escape artist. I wasn’t the sort who often stands up for his rights. But I became highly skilled at evasiveness. The people waiting to “shape me up” would wait in vain, for I’d take a new route.

Escapism was not seen as a good trait. If there had been a class in escapism I would have gotten an “A”, but instead I tended to escape the problems that came along with getting an “F” in other classes by getting the lowest grade you could get and still pass. A “D” got you by and avoided punishment. This drove some people crazy. “All aptitude tests say you are smart”, they would gripe, ‘Why won’t you study? Why won’t you do your homework?” The answer was easy: Escapists don’t do homework. And escapists do study; they just study “extracurricular” stuff. Unfortunately I didn’t know the word “extracurricular.”

Fortunately I was not alone. There were others who did not behave correctly. To not apply yourself to the task at hand, and instead to fool around, was described as “hacking off”, and we who behaved in such a manner were described as “hack-offs”. By ourselves we were very lonely, and a few hack-offs I befriended were some of the loneliest people I’ve ever met, but when we got together we were not alone any more, and joy exploded. The table where the hack-offs sat in the cafeteria, which should have been a gloomy place due to the low status involved, was often ruled by hilarity. I think this may have annoyed some miserable high status people, for they’d occasionally feel compelled to walk over to our happy table and sneer. We needed to be “shaped up”.

I was not shaped up properly, and instead learned of better ways to escape. But such ways were not altogether “better”, for there were things I might have learned I instead fled from.

For example, I might have learned how to fix a car’s engine, but the fellows who knew how to fix cars scared me. At my school they were a group called “the greasers”. They should have been friends, for in many classes they too were “hack-offs”. However they were tough where I was tender, callous where I was sensitive, and I annoyed the heck out of them.

Tears especially riled them. I recall one time three of them cornered me behind the school, ambushing me as I took an evasive route home, and demanded I fight them one by one. I threw the first two down with a head lock and hip throw, but when the third and biggest fellow advanced grinning, I bolted sobbing. Sobbing was very annoying to such tough young men. And they were men. They were shaving in grade school, practically.

I was so shaped into a timid form that, even when the hormones hit me, a year later than everyone else, and I went through the typical growth spurt and became six feet tall, it didn’t sink in that the fellows who could shave in grade school were short, only around five feet six inches. I couldn’t figure out why they were treating me with greater respect. I still shied away, because my identity was already formed into an escapist mode.

It has since occurred to me that, when the hormones hit, we go shooting down a prepared channel. Boyhood forms what attracts us, and in an ideal society we would be formed in a way that would aim us towards high-status activity. However in my society only some were aimed towards high-status. People like me were so hurt by sneering that we were formed in a way that aimed us the opposite direction.

One odd coincidence was that, during my junior year in high-school, a class dedicated to escapism appeared. I signed up right away, for it seemed obvious it was a class I’d get an “A” at. It was called, “Creative Writing”. And indeed, as a senior, I got the first “A”s of my academic career. During graduation ceremonies I was called forward, and, perhaps to the astonishment of some classmates, I was presented with an award that had never before existed, “The Creative Writing Award.”

This would be a happy ending if life ended at age seventeen, but now it is fifty-three years later and, rather than success, I find myself shadow-banned.

This presents me with an interesting dilemma, at the end of my life. This certainly is not a Hollywood ending. It is not like the happy-ever-after ending of “It’s A Wonderful Life”.

Rather it is like the complete disdain faced by Christian martyrs. Cancel culture is like Nero, sneering at Paul and chopping off his head, and scoffing at Peter and crucifying him upside down, and then erecting a statue to himself the size of the Statue of Liberty, in Rome.

In terms of being a social climber, Nero climbed to the very top. He got recognition. He had status. In fact one reason Peter and Paul got in trouble was they stated Nero did not out-rank Jesus. But towards the end of Nero’s life more and more people got in trouble for not respecting him enough. He had his own mother killed, which seems a rather drastic solution to the Freudian drama. Anyone who stood in his way tended to be “disappeared”, which is a dictator’s way of dealing with debate. The famous portrayal of Nero playing the fiddle as Rome burned was because Nero proposed urban renewal, and some felt the city had character, and that historic neighborhoods should be preserved, and therefore Nero’s solution was to just burn the entire place down, (sort of like Fraudulent Biden is proposing by outlawing all fossil fuels).

It is said that recognition is important, and therefore there is no such thing as bad publicity. But to be “disappeared” is not publicity. It is just to be marginalized off the edge of the earth. Out of sight is out of mind, and dictators tend to believe they can control Truth by stating what “facts” they will allow, and what inconvenient bits of history they will erase. As far as Nero was concerned, only Nero mattered, and he became a sort of god, in terms of his sheer, brutal power. Paul and Peter were to be disappeared, with all their papers incinerated. They were to be completely forgotten.

To some degree it must have been depressing to Peter and Paul to know they would soon be executed, and at the same time to see the towering statue of Nero being built up into Rome’s skyline. At that time it was the tallest structure in the city. It must have been apparent, in the short term at least, that Nero would get all the glory as they themselves were basically erased.

However Peter and Paul also had faith, and the knowledge Jesus Himself had stated, “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” When push came to shove, Peter and Paul had faith in what they would never see manifested in the physical world. They stood up to Nero, and faced being disappeared, and saw no miracle manifest to save them from being actually, physically disappeared.

What guts they had! What fortitude in the face of fiercely snarling evil! Then I look at myself. Have I any semblance of such guts? Hmm…

In some ways I very much doubt I have such guts. After all, I have described how I was shaped into the form of an escapist. I do not stand up to a bully like Nero. I do my best to elude him, to avoid him, to pass down second street when he travels down first. It is only by accident that my avoidance looks like defiance.

Only by accident? Or is it not really an accident? Is being a wimp actually a form of defiance?

If truth must be known, it is a form of defiance. To avoid something is to call that something worthy of avoiding. Nero does not want to be called worthy of avoiding. He wants to be called worthy of worship. That is why he built the huge statue of himself, towering above the ashes of Rome.

In a strange way the table of fellow hack-offs; who I sat with in the school cafeteria all those years ago, was like the early Christians, for what others called “status” we called “worthy of avoiding”. Of course, we hack-offs had no Messiah to guide us, and in that manner were unlike the early Christians. However we rejected the “Nero” we dealt with, which tended to be the cafeteria tables that held the stars of the school: The football heroes and the cheerleaders, the students who got “A”s and their disciples. We were unworthy of acclaim in both athletic and academic terms, “losers”, yet our table knew laughter and joy, which tended to suggest “acclaim” is not as necessary for happiness as some believe.

But now, in my old age, I confess acclaim sure would be nice. It is why the maudlin film, “It’s a Wonderful Life” can bring tears to a person’s eyes even the tenth time one watches it. And I, as a writer, think acclaim may be a big reason I have written.

If you write, you either write a diary confession you want no one else to see, in which case you don’t mind if it is burned, or else you do want to share. You want to share something that might brighten another’s day, along the lines of a get-well-card to a friend who is feeling poorly. You want to share the words that make a sad face brighten with a big smile. You even want a big crowd to smile, and roar applause. You want to be a rock star, but it is not to make yourself worthy of worship. It is because you want to make many others happy. Therefore you are not a Nero, puffing your own ego with a grandiose statue of yourself. Rather you are loving your neighbor, and even your enemy, as scripture advises. However you do seek applause.

To be shadow-banned, or hit by cancel culture’s censoring, is therefore painful. It is the opposite of the applause a writer craves. It is difficult for the writer involved to see that the rejection may not be because the writing is bad, but because it is good. For it is good to defy Nero, simply by seeing and saying there is good in neighborhoods of Rome which shouldn’t be razed, and in Nero’s mother who shouldn’t be killed, and in Peter and Paul. When such simple and sweet statements are seen as defiance, and as an enemy of the state, the writer is served the opposite of the acclaim they desired. They are cancelled.

Personally, I can say it is damn depressing to have struggled my entire life to stop being an escape artist, who avoids standing up to authority and avoids “causing trouble”, and instead to learn how to speak truth boldly, cleverly, humorously, and persuasively. And what does it get me? The exact opposite of what I wanted.

Saying that confesses I want the world’s praise. I am no better than a sleazy politician or Hollywood star. How much of my life have I wasted, seeking the praise of the wrong people? How much of my time have I, in seeking such praise, been bowing and scraping to win the accolades of sickos, of Neros who are zeroes?

In seeking the praise of these pitiful people, how often have I pretended I don’t believe the Truth? How often have I backed down, with disarming eyebrows, when I could have jutted my jaw?

Too many times. And it was all in vain. Being nice to bullies never seems to change them. They never “come around” to my sort of kindness. They seemingly just get worse. If anything, backing down just convinces them bullying works, and they become incorrigible.

But I can’t blame them. I am the one who wanted their praise. Their attention. Their applause. How could I become such a fool, wherein I was ashamed of Truth to a degree I’d deny it, for the favor of nitwits? If Christ returned today, there are Atheists who could say they stood for Truth, whereas I would be ashamed, for in some way disregarding Truth, in favor of the acceptance of Neros.

How could I have been so stupid?

One time, when I was young, I astonished the other hack-offs at my cafeteria table by announcing I was tired of being a hack-off. I wanted to be “popular”, and was going to go sit with the football players and cheerleaders. (I was infatuated with a certain cheerleader). Then I deserted my tried and true friends, and spent a miserable fortnight sitting at the wrong table. All it did was make the football players awkward and uncomfortable (they kindly did not tell me to buzz off) and I couldn’t think of anything to say. I did achieve a splendid five seconds of eye-contact with a certain cheerleader, but nothing came of that. Then I gave up, and moved back to the hack-off table. It sure was a relief to be back home!

Remembering that adolescent adventure makes me wonder: What made that hack-off table “Home”? What was so comfortable about the company of hack-offs?

I suppose it was comfortable just being what you were: Not an athletic star. Not a brilliant scholar. Not an big actor in the school’s production of “Camelot.” Not anything but a hack-off, yet able to think, comment, and most of all laugh. Able to appreciate. Able to understand. Able to be the cheering audience which the Nero’s originally wanted to please.

How is it the Nero’s become so disdainful, and look down long noses, and call such people “Deplorables” and “Bitter Clingers” and “Inhabitants of Flyover Country.” In truth such hack-offs are the salt of the earth. Without them life has no flavor. No joy.

It is a great thing to strive to be great, but one should not lose touch with the fact greatness already exists, and being great is only emphasizing Truth that already exists. And one great thing is that the salt of the earth do exist.

The existence of a Nero mentality involves a decoupling of leaders from the led, wherein the leaders are estranged from the very people they supposedly are leading. The beauty of love, understanding, sympathy, empathy, and forgiveness are all cast aside for brutal gains, in terms of power. The things that make an audience clap and cheer and rise to its feet, demanding an encore, are belittled as stuff that can be manufactured and controlled by censorship and the pulp of propaganda. “You will only cheer when I say, and stop cheering when I command.”

The blandness this creates tends to become tasteless, which is odd, for tastelessness is often used as an excuse for censorship. The elite feel the humorist has stepped over an invisible line. A truth, the very truth that gives their humor its salt, its bite, its flavor, offends those in power.

On April 13, 1969 my favorite show on TV did not appear on air, as it was deemed too tasteless by someone “upstairs” in the network. It is interesting to view the show now, and to see what was not allowed to be seen back then:

In some ways the “shocking” content now seems tame, and in other ways some of the content seems sad, for we now know how society moved, the following half century. After all, some things that have become “permissible” are not altogether positive.

However, as a young man barely sixteen, I was fed up with what I called “phonies.” People walked around faking happiness. Truth was repressed. I felt I was being stifled by my suburb, which was externally green and lovely and superior to a slum, but had no soul. Only the “hack-offs” like me were close to being honest. We at least could see a status symbol was only a symbol. Other people behaved as if a status symbol had actual power, when we knew it was devoid of power, for we were spoiled rotten, and knew things are just stuff, clutter, and wealthy suburbs are the mother of much misery.

It just so happened that as the Smothers Brothers got cancelled, I headed off, escaping the misery of suburban stifling by hitchhiking to Florida. I still have the diary, and soon will post the pages, for I think it is a story that remembers an America that was a very good land, but beginning a fall into hard times. Perhaps the fall began with John Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, and accelerated with the assassinations of his brother and Martin Luther King in 1968, but in 1969 the nation was still largely wholesome and optimistic, which was something I discovered over and over again as I hitchhiked. The salt of the earth were all around and easily found.

It is also interesting to look further back in time, and see what happened in the long run to the salt of the earth, as opposed to Nero, in terms of human memory. For the Neros of the world care very much about how they are remembered, for some reason. I don’t know why; they aren’t going to be around to enjoy it. But perhaps it is just a willful attempt to extend their power beyond their lifespan, and to demand people seem them as worthy of worship after they are dead and gone. In actual fact, this rarely happens. However the Neros talk about what they call “their legacy”.

Well, in terms of Nero’s legacy, the great Colossus of Nero was almost immediately altered and renamed after he died. A crown was added and it was dubbed, “The Colossus of Apollo”. Then the Colussus was amazingly shifted across town (quite the engineering feat) for the Colossus had to make way for the the Colosseum. That is ironic because Nero’s urban renewal had to make way for newer urban renewal. However decay of Rome was already setting in, and the statue of Nero’s final indignity was to seen as valuable scrap metal, and to simply vanish.

Meanwhile, what happened to the supposedly “dissapeared” Peter and Paul, in terms of worldly status? They, who did not seem to give a hoot about their worldly status, got remembered. Some stray letters they wrote to remote Roman provinces were not destroyed, or perhaps were destroyed but copies were made first. They fell through the cracks of censorship, and “went viral”.

The irony becomes complete when the urban renewal of Rome begins to involve structures built in memory of Peter and Paul even as Nero, though not forgotten, became a name you would not give to your dog. (Maybe to your pet weasel.)

The Basilica of Peter:

The Basilica of Paul:

But, like the men, the external of such beautiful architecture is nothing compare to what lies within. The interior of the Basilaca of Peter:

The interior of the Basilica of Paul:

It seems a strange legacy for two men who were supposedly disappeared, especially because they proved they didn’t care for themselves, and only cared for their Master.

In a sense it is a happy ending, like the ending of “It’s A Wonderful Life.” True, one had to sit around for over a thousand years to see it manifest, but perhaps time passes differently in the place Peter and Paul watched from. I doubt those fellows now care much about the gratification we earthlings get from worldly praise, but I, as a fool who cares about such things, do care, and am gratified.

But do you know what gratifies me most? It is what a standing challenge the reality I describe is to the hierarchy of China. In their recent history, Mao is their Nero, but they are still desperately attempting to glorify the man. This makes them vulnerable to any comedian. Whom they then must censor, to some degree. For example, here is “Uncle Roger” discussing being censored, and to a degree turning it into a promotion.

It is worthwhile to do a bit of searching, and learn a bit about “Uncle Roger.” He at times speaks perfect English with only a bit of a California accent, and I came across some critics bemoaning the fact he adopts a pretend “Chinese” accent for his act. This brought me back nearly sixty years, for when I first heard the Smothers Brothers (they sold LP Record albums of their comedy act in nightclubs, before they appeared on TV) I was appalled Dick Smothers would take advantage of his handicapped brother Tom, I was blissfully unaware Tom’s “handicap” was part of their act.

Part of comedy is to adopt a persona which may be made up, but helps bring out the Truth. For Charlie Chaplin it was the persona of a tramp despite the fact he was wealthy, and for Rodney Dangerfield it was the persona of a man constantly harassed, disrespected and unloved, though he was generally adored.

“Uncle Roger” is currently moving from the “safe” topic of oriental cooking to the “unsafe” reality of testing the limits of social norms. I think he is gambling that being banned in China will increase his popularity outside of the range of their censorship. He is “Chinese Malaysian” which means he is of the many Chinese people who live outside of China’s ruthless rule.

However that brings up the question: What is the range of China’s censorship? It would be a dictator’s dream to completely control all media all over the entire planet. But that is a dream based upon a falsity. Why? Because Truth cannot be controlled in that manner, and what China is attempting is like attempting to capture sunshine with a butterfly net.

One thing I learned quite early in life was that what is true in winter is not true in spring. This was expressed well by King Soloman in the Book of Ecclesiastes three thousand years ago, and became a hit song by the Byrds when I was twelve, called “Turn, turn, turn.”

The lines that impressed me most, as a boy, involved the fact there was a “time to embrace” but also “a time to refrain from embracing”. In other words, not all rules were iron clad and universal. Truth required discernment.

In terms of censorship, there may be times to censor, but there are also times to refrain from censoring. For example, during dangers, when ungoverned fear may cause a panic, it may be a sort of censorship to say, “Do not fear”, but it keeps panic under control. But, during a time of danger, if people pretend there is no danger, it may increase awareness to say, “Be afraid.”

If there are two alternatives, which alternate in how applicable they are to a given situation, then obviously two views are better than one. Only a complete fool like Nero (or Mao) would think a single view must cancel and censor the second view. However power breeds a madness which thinks the single eye of a cyclops is superior to two eyes with depth perception, (which is a third eye neither eye has all alone).

The thing about this power madness is that while Nero (and Mao) represent extreme cases, we should confess that to some degree we are all guilty of putting our single view over another’s. It walks hand in hand with the selfishness that makes true brotherhood difficult. Fortunately, most of us can be tapped on the shoulder, and come to our senses, especially when some comedian points out how laughable our behavior actually is.

For it is midst such laughter we rejoin the human race. We become the salt of the earth. Rather than “on top”, clinging to symbols of our status, and feeling we lead and we govern, we are led by the third eye, which sees Truth.

Truth is mankind’s true Leader, though the sheep often stray.


It hardly seems worth posting, as shadow-banning has reduced my “views” total from over 300 to as low as 16. Roughly a 95% decrease. I tell myself it is a sign of honor. Someday in the future, anyone who wasn’t shadow-banned during these trying times will bear the mantle of disgrace, and be seen as something of a collaborator.

I would like to give credit for the decrease in views to my bad poetry. However one sign of being banned is that old posts without poems, which once appeared in search-engines because they had garnered over a thousand “views” (and in one case over 25,000), and which therefore continued to draw people to this site even years after the post was posted, abruptly stop attracting anyone. For example, here are the stats for a formerly popular old post called, “Why We Don’t Domesticate Deer.”

I should point out the post contains no poetry, and no politics about Global Warming, Sea-Ice, Vaccines, or Falsified Election Results. It was originally posted before Trump was even president. The only thing which might be deemed “political” was a mention that culling the wild deer population avoids starvation on the part of deer, and, occasionally, of poor people. Therefore the only reason for the abrupt cessation of “views” is that I, as an individual, am seen as being worthy of censoring, by some faceless bleep.

In any case I never really wrote for fame, which seems to harm people more than it ever helps them, but rather because I enjoy writing. I enjoyed the web because people responded to my writing, which was a lot better than the faceless rejection-slips I received when I attempted to interest editors in my work. I enjoyed even trolls, more than rejection-slips.

Before I discovered the web (around 2003) I wrote for the few who would listen. People in campgrounds and churches and at parties heard my songs. I did that for thirty-five years, so it is easy to return to that.

I still comment at other sites, though the discussions do not seem as instructive as they used to be. You used to get more links to sites that emphasized the point that the person you debated with was trying to make. Now, too often, you just get smeared, or get cancelled and your comment vanishes. But some places still have some adult debates, or goodhearted silliness.

Recently there was a slightly facetious post by Kip Hanson on the WUWT website about whether eating lentils would halt Global Warming, and the comments devolved at one point into some old, grade-school poetry about the digestive effects of eating beans. I could not resist the challenge, and composed this:

Beans! Beans! They make you dance
To escape your own flatulence!
Beans! Beans! You’d better run
To escape the climate-harm you’ve done
For sphincters in quite vegan asses
Produce stench whose harm surpasses
Several other greenhouse gasses.

This just demonstrates that once a poet, always a poet. Even if you are an old dog.

On the road to tomorrow the old dog
Does not strain the leash any more.
His tired eyes blink blandly through milky fog
And cats don't fear him. He will not implore
His Master for treats, nor yank him down stairs
In a scrabble to nowhere, as if ahead
Was always hidden treasure although there's
Nothing to be seen. Instead the dog's led
Meekly, heeled without wish to strain faster
Or sniff slower, content to cross green grass
Within the peace of walking with Master
On roads to tomorrow. I think this means
That the old dog may not tug, but still leans.

I may not post for a while. I need to think, (and also to do my blasted taxes, though it seems like paying a government to screw me).


How great it is to laze in the morning,
To roll over, drift in and out of dreams,
And to arise without some screamer warning
Scheduling screeches snide timelines of schemes...
...To awake refreshed, without any girding,
And without feeling God is incomplete
If I fail to cross a T. If I sing
Or if I don't; if I'm sour or I'm sweet
Will not bring the universe to it's knees,
And the whole universe could abruptly pop
And God still would be God. Knowing this frees
Me from my stress. All my worry can stop.
Infinity's pretty darn big, I've decided.
A Unity boundless cannot be divided.


You are gifted, and though all the long year
You give, and need no ribbons nor bows,
So, when Christmas comes, should you feel a fear
You are in any way lacking? God knows
Who the true givers are, but exploiters
Want to make you feel guilty if you don't buy
Their trinkets. Just as bad salt grows goiters
They smog up the clean, sweet, holiday sky
Until stars aren't seen, but you're just such a star.
When winter stunts daylight, and darkness looms, 
Some people glimmer. They catch from afar
The Light Who long ago defeated cruel gloom's
Attempt to slaughter all innocents. Light shifted
The minds of men from theft, to being gifted.


Just a reminder to Americans:

Amendment 4
– Protection from Unreasonable Searches and Seizures

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

Note the word “particularly”, and then compare that with the amazingly general and vauge description of what is to be seized in part “C” of the warrant.

Basically, the warrant allows the FBI to seize anything Trump wrote or received while president.

I’ll leave it to others to state whether this is a “fishing expedition” or not, and whether or not the possibility exists that evidence could have been “planted”, (especially as people were banned from serving as witnesses and onlookers), and whether or not the FBI has a shred of reliability left after it has been exposed as culpable to the processes that led to prior unfounded attacks on Trump.

Instead, I would like to address the question, “Why should Trump want to hide even a single paper?”

The simple fact of the matter is that we mortals are not perfect, and often need to go through a process of “feeling things out” before we arrive at a decision. During the “process” we may say things we would never say “in public”. We may stamp around and be wall-bangers. Those who love us wait until we are done ventilating, and then say something along the lines of, “You don’t really mean that.” And, speaking for myself, I tend to respond, “No, but it’s how I feel.”

Such emotional honesty is only possible with those who love you. It is a thing called “intimacy.” Such emotional honesty is not wise among those who hate you, and who want to harm you, for they will use such honesty as a proof you are a sinner.

The word “sin” has become politically incorrect, but the sad fact of the matter is that it is human to err. Saint John stated, “If we say we have no sin then the Truth is not in us.” It follows that our ability to confess our sin, in some safe space, is vital to our ability to grow, and even to exist, as humans.

This is not to say we accept sin as behavior we want to follow. After saving the adulterous woman from being stoned by telling the angry mob, “Let you who is without sin throw the first stone” Jesus told the woman who he had saved, “Go, and sin no more.”

There needs to be the recognition that sin is undesirable. If one attempts to justify sin and perpetuate sin, one faces a danger Saint Paul described as being “given to your sin.”

In fact, the good are as prone to sin as the bad, but the good fight what the bad promote.

To return to the subject of private papers, I have kept a diary since I was nine, and if the FBI wants to dig up evidence that I am not always sweet and saintly, or even sane, all they need to do is seize my private papers. In fact, just to tantalize them, here’s a page from 1965:

(The FBI might like to know why my older brother, who was 18 at the time, was coming home at two AM and entering the house through a third story window.)

I think it might do the FBI some good if they were forced to read my writing. All 60 years’ worth. If my poetry didn’t make them more sensitive, it might gag them, and either would be better than their current state.

But as far as your private papers are concerned, they are nobody’s business but your own. The U S Constitution defends your right to work things out in your own time and in your own way, and anyone who wants to limit or infringe upon that liberty can go take a flying leap.


It seems the United States is in a state of being denied, wherein what people want is not what they are getting. In a sense it is like fasting. People hunger and thirst for righteousness, but never seem to be fed.

Fasting is supposedly spiritual, when it isn’t done out of vanity, merely to improve appearances, but rather is done to break our addiction to worldly cravings.

I must confess I was never big on fasting. When young I had a revved-up metabolism and couldn’t put on weight even when I tried, (and I did try, attempting to increase my bulk for football.) Having this sort of metabolism makes you into a sort of eating machine at times, which doesn’t look all that spiritual. Yet then I might go a surprising period of time on nothing but coffee and cigarettes (and sometimes whisky) utterly indifferent to food, because I was “a writer”. (I will confess I learned to add lots and lots of powdered milk to my coffee, so I suppose the milk kept hunger at bay.) However, after one of these spells of being “a writer”, I’d be hit by a ravenous appetite and completely disgrace myself, in spiritual terms, by wolfing an entire large pizza like it was a cracker.

Therefore, I am no one to seek out as an authority on self-denial, and how it benefits the spiritual aspirant. To be quite honest, a lot of my “writing” is me complaining about how I don’t get what I want. (I am rather good at such complaining, if I do say so myself.)

Oddly, even though I never really sought self-denial, I did manage to wind up in some situations where I was a “suffering poet”. Largely this was because I was offensive. I didn’t mean to be offensive (most of the time) but there is something offensive about taking the attitude that you are special and should get what you want, especially when what you want is for everyone else to go to work nine to five as you stay home smoking and drinking coffee (sometimes spiked with whisky) being “a writer”. In any case, let it suffice to say I did not get what I wanted, and people made me feel less than welcome, when they didn’t just throw me out on my ear. This placed me in a position of self-denial even though that was the last thing I wanted.

One crisis I got myself into involved leaving New England in a sort of self-imposed exile, at age 27. I had offended just about everyone, including myself, and just packed all that seemed valuable into a tiny 1974 Toyota with a 1200 cc engine and headed off into the cruel world. I slept in that tiny vehicle fairly often, which I suppose is self-denial. And, (as even exiled Romans such as Ovid and Cicero admitted), exile had its benefits. Self-denial can uplift the spiritual seeker.

In any case, while thinking about the current suffering occurring in the United States, I recalled a poem I wrote before I left New England on my exile. In Rome people often accepted exile as a way to escape a more severe punishment, and the old poem was about the punishment (self-inflicted) I was enduring before I left. Something about America’s current suffering reminded me of that past, and I went searching for the old work in my yellowed papers.

Found it! It is an unusual poem for me, in that I reworked it several times. The first draft was from November 1978, the second draft from July 1979, and the final draft was from October 1980. In other words, this poem expressed the passion of a young man in his mid-twenties.

Anger's a sabre thrust into my heart;
My heart is a scabbard of pain.
I would draw out the long, bloody blade
And see all my enemies slain,
But blood is a terrible stain.
My fingertips shake with the strain.

Foolish men fawn for a dollar a day
And artists are driven to hiding.
Generals are riding fat horses that bray,
And therapists yawn at confiding
While counting up dollars deciding
What beaches to ruin residing
Within aluminum siding,
Then they go back to their guiding.

Where is the handle? I must draw the sword
And see that the dragon is thoroughly gored,
Yet how can I haul out that head-hacking blade
When the charger you sold me so recently brayed?

Sorrow, sweet sorrow, is clotting my throat
With stabbing I never could swallow.
I want to bail out. We're in the same boat.
Excuses have always been hollow.

Where is the scalpel a surgeon would use
And where is the surgeon who knows how to choose?
The enemy has to be slain
But blood is a terrible stain. 
My fingertips shake with the strain.

Besides being a fairly good indication that I chose correctly, in deciding to depart a situation which was driving me bonkers over 40 years ago, the poem traces some depths of feeling one may experience, when the situation that is driving them bonkers is difficult to escape. And the current situation in the United States is driving people bonkers. It is also difficult to escape. People who are nowhere nearly as offensive as I was in my mid-twenties may be feeling like I felt, all those years ago.

This makes me wonder if there is any advice I can offer.

In one sense I have no advice. I have never figured out how to make the people driving me bonkers stop doing it. They are what they are. The only thing I can stop is to stop myself. I’m the only one I can change.

In 1980 the biggest change I made was to stop retreating to my mother’s basement, when I felt hurt, and instead to retreat in an outward direction. It seemed a very brave thing I was doing, but even little birds do it, when they leave the nest. My departure was actually retarded, when you consider I was in my mid-twenties, and few took it all that seriously, considering I had “left home” many times before. Few knew how serious I was, and that I was truly gone for good.

Leaving the nest is self-denial because one is denying themself the very real comforts offered by a mother. Such comforts are provided in a nigh instinctual way and can be addictive. For example, my dirty socks would vanish and then reappear cleaned in the top drawer of my bureau neatly balled. This may seem like a little thing, but it never happened again, and, after forty years, recalling such kindness makes me nostalgic. But at the time I took it for granted and it made me lazy, dependent, and disgusted with myself. Moving from my mother’s basement was like leaving a dank dungeon and soaring into the open sky. Where is the self-denial in that? (I suppose it is in the fact the open sky can get stormy, and then one wants to head home.)

In the above example it can be seen that self-denial is closely associated with freedom. It is part of a tension which forever exists between security and freedom, wonderfully portrayed by a couple of Saturday Evening Post covers by Norman Rockwell which appeared on consecutive weeks: (Notice the face is the same.)

In some ways this tension is as simple as the fact we get up in the morning and go back to bed in the evening. Life involves alternating desires. However, the factor I want to focus on is the self-denial.

In order to be a sort of yogi and to qualify as “spiritual” the self-denial must encompass both sides of an alternating duality; IE: when you want to get up you must stay in bed, and when you want to stay in bed you must get up. This sort of “fasting” is annoying as heck. It is a swift way to turn even bright spirits into sourpusses. It can only be done when the yogi involved is fiercely determined to reach some preconceived transcendental state, and, even then, is full of hazards.

I did try some of this self-denial when in my twenties and I learned something of the hazards. It is a bit like enduring the pain of jogging to get yourself in shape. One problem I ran into was that I tended to lose my desire and to see my resolution fade, and to in a sense “fall off the wagon”. (This was not like falling off a horse, wherein you get back on where you fell off, but more like the game of snakes-and-ladders; you go slithering down a slippery slope and have to start over from the very bottom.) Then a second problem was that the very few times I did bungle into the periphery of some sort of transcendental state it tended to scare my socks off; I wanted to run away and be normal again. Lastly was that, (most of the time), such self-denial wrung the joy from my life and left me a sourpuss, and a crank. This was so far from the nirvana I was seeking that it actually was what propelled me from my mother’s basement.

This brings me to the subject of what was propelling me. I felt as if I was to some degree out of control. This seemed irresponsible, but to some degree we cannot take control of everything. Some days the fish simply are not biting, and no amount of yelling at the water can change their minds. And the same is true of hitchhiking. Some days the traffic will not stop, and neither yelling nor smirking convinces anyone. It is at such times one finds themselves muttering to the sky, and to the possibility of a Power besides ourselves, who controls.

As a young intellectual I strove to be logical, and to doubt the existence of anything which could not be scientifically replicated, but my Atheism was troubled by a series of events which could not be replicated but could also not be denied, for they saved my life. Midst my “bad luck” were odd experiences of “good luck”. Eventually this led to a series of inner crises and I “got religion”, which made me in some ways even more offensive than before. I was even more likely to sit around writing as others went to work when I thought God would care for me. But eventually I became aware God didn’t automatically gratify my desires, and was as libel, and in fact more libel, to utilize self-denial. For example, the only time God washed my socks and put them in the top drawer was when God manifested as Mom. The rest of the time the socks stayed dirty.

It is upsetting to some when God doesn’t respond to prayers like He is some sort of vending machine, wherein you put in your prayer and the answered prayer plops out at the bottom. After such disappointment, one must take matters into their own hands. This is fine when the problem is dirty socks; one simply learns to wash their own socks. However, it is not so easy when things get out of control, and your best efforts come up empty.

In my case, (along the lines of fishing when the fish weren’t biting, and hitchhiking when nobody stops,) coming-up-empty often occurred when looking for a job. Many times, I was one of those fellows who waits outside an unemployment office hoping for spot labor. I didn’t feel in control of my destiny, especially on those days when there was no work, and, on those days, God heard a fair amount of grumbling.

I well know the temptation one then feels to be corrupted; God may say you’ll earn no money that day, but one is tempted to rob a bank.

To be honest I suppose I must reluctantly confess that I have succumbed to temptations to some degree.

As a teen I sowed some very wild oats, but once I “got religion” my moral failures never progressed much beyond smoking and drinking too much, a few failed romances, and some petty theft, (and I did repay the market I shoplifted cigarettes from). While I did feel the urges to be corrupt, they never won me over to the degree one sees among politicians in “The Swamp.” I tested the waters of corruption and was repelled.

I’m not sure why this was the case. It could be that I simply wasn’t deemed worthy of spending the time, by those who do the tempting. One good thing about being flat broke is that few see you as being worthy of seduction.

It also could be I was protected. After all, once I “got religion” I had given my life to the Lord (to some degree), which means I had admitted I couldn’t control life and needed help. And what happens next?

Once you have such a Superman watching over you, perhaps you get protected even when you don’t want to be protected, as was the case when certain gorgeous women walked by. When lonely I was not at all inclined towards self-denial, but had to endure it. The Good Shepherd was guiding his sheep, even if the sheep was a black sheep.

Eventually it sunk into me that a lot of the self-denial I was experiencing was actually good for me. In the 1970’s and early 1980’s I endured a fair amount of mockery from even my closest friends for being something of a prude. Then, starting around 1982, a lot of the fellow “writers” who had mocked me started dropping dead of AIDS (which was a reletively swift and unpleasant way to die back then, with no cure). Then self-denial didn’t seem like such a misfortune, and indeed more like a miracle.

Of course, I always wanted the miracles to be more pampering. One story I often tell involves a Christmas miracle. I was five dollars short on my rent and a green, rumpled piece of paper came blowing across a parking lot. As I stooped to pick it up, I could see it was money, and was fairly certain it was a five, which it was. Even though I felt a warm glow all over I felt comfortable enough with my Creator to joke, “Couldn’t You have managed a hundred?” But I’ve heard it said that when you are thirsty God gives water, not lemonade, and to me this has seemed true.

This brings me back to the subject of self-denial, and the fact I seemed to get more self-denial than gratification, which must mean that, if the Good Shepherd is in charge, there is more good in not getting what you want than in getting what you want.

Why should this be?

I think this is true because getting what you desire seldom satisfies. You usually just want more. We tend to be creatures of habit, and the way to freedom from addiction is not to get what you are addicted to. This is not to say some habits are not good habits: When a bad habit enslaves us we tend to call it “being stuck in a rut” however a better habit is described as being “in the groove”, but even good habits limit our freedom, and I think God wants us free.

It helps me to understand how habits enslave when I describe a “desire” as a “craving”. Craving sounds more beastly, and even undesirable (which is wonderfully ambiguous, as you are saying desire is not what you should desire.) People who can admit they “desire” are less likely to confess they “crave.” But, if you don’t think craving controls you, just hold your breath for sixty seconds. Soon breathing, which you ordinarily don’t even think about, becomes the only thing you can think about.

Craving can be seen as a distraction. It is like when you have a job to do, but just then a very attractive person walks by. It doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman, nor what your sexual preference is, you are distracted. And from God’s perspective, humanity is a herd of distracted cats. He is the only One able to herd them.

One thing God seems to seek to do is to free us from our cravings. And it turns out that such freedom is far more likely to occur when we don’t get what we desire. For example, when even the most zealous suiter is disdained over and over, and is finally arrested as a stalker, the zeal must seek a different channel, even if it doesn’t completely fade like the final ember of a fire. Typically, the suiter settles for second best, and rather than a “lover” becomes a “friend”. If they can’t be number one in the beloved’s life, and can’t actually massage the beloved’s shoulders, they must settle for making this a better world for the beloved to live in, by uplifting other people they formerly wouldn’t bother with.

Having our desire frustrated is painful, but it frees us from needing to have a specific desire fulfilled in a specific way. One thing I have noticed in people who have been through great suffering is that they are less demanding and are more able to be happy with less. They are satisfied with water and don’t demand lemonade. Rather than restless they know more of peace. Rather than post-traumatic-stress they know post-traumatic-resignation.

I have had trouble being resigned because I am a battler and tend to be more inspired by pep talks, like Winston Churchhill’s famous “Never Surrender” speech when England was threatened by Hitler. I also liked the prophet Issaih’s defiance of the Assyrians when they besieged Jerusalem. I did not like the prophet Jeramiah’s advice when the Babylonians besieged Jerusalem a few decades later, for his advice was, “Surrender, for this time you are up against God’s Will. You must accept the punishment of captivity and exile.”

Surrender is a bad thing when it is a surrender to slavery, but God does not want us to be slaves. God is the only One worthy of surrendering to, for He knows best when our desires should be thwarted and when they should be gratified, and how best to move us to a point where our minds are unclouded by cravings, and our hearts are free to love.

One interesting thing about the relatively poor people who the “elite” call “deplorables” is that the poor seem more able to put their own desires aside. A factoid which never made sense to me is that the poor give more to charity than the rich, in terms of a percentage of their income. (In fact, some rich will not give to charity unless they themselves profit in some way, which is not charity at all.) How can this be true?

It has occurred to me that the poor, without the slightest wish to be yogis, have had to see their desires denied over and over again, until the habit of craving is worn down, and they no longer expect gratification. Then, because their minds are not clotted with cravings, they are more able to hear their hearts. The poor workingman’s heart defies his intellect’s banker’s-budget, when he impulsively hands half his sandwich to a hungry, onlooking child. In this and a thousand other small ways the so-called “deplorable” are not deplorable at all, and in fact are more loving than, and are spiritually superior to, the so-called “elite.”

Blessed are the poor. Because they do not require gratification to be happy, they are often happier than billionaires. They live in a world wherein quaint values the elite call “old fashioned”, but which are actually ancient and eternal, rule. So maybe not getting your desires gratified is a good thing.

The elite, who are constantly sating their desires for wealth and power and fame and sex and drugs, discover gratification does not lead to freedom, and instead become more and more addicted to their desires. In spiritual terms this insidiously matures into a colossal mistake, for even when they imagine they are enslaving others they in fact are enslaving themselves. Even when they think they are smarter they are in fact becoming increasingly ignorant. Even when they think they see clearly, they are blinded by desire. And even when they think they gain control they are losing self-control; in seeking power they become spiritually powerless.

Hopefully you see where my thought is leading. It is a complete contradiction of the values which rule the elite. It denies that which the American mainstream media attempts to say is the only sensible way to think.

The foxes push saints from pulpits to preach
To the chickens, but their sly idealism
Is cynicism. They actually teach
The opposite of what they say. To them
Hypocrisy's second nature. They don't know
How fresh and clean Truth is. They cannot see
How blind they are. They think it wise to sow
Thistles, and create their own tragedy.

See them now, puffed in pulpits, so sure that
They're collecting dainties, like gamblers sweep
Winnings from a table, chewing pure fat
That drips from chins. Meanwhile chickens keep
Their distance: In fact, the pews are now empty.
The outfoxed fox snarls, for he can't tempt me.
Tired of this anger I'm carrying
I turn to You, my Lord, and plead my case:
Mankind creates divorces out of marrying
And turns the sweetest blush into disgrace.
Your generosity is met with greed.
Your colossal kindness met with hate.
They snatch away the milk that babies need
And dream their tyranny will make them great.

Am I to sit and turn the other cheek?
Must goodness zip its lip as hellfires singe?
How is it You in silence will not speak
As bigmouths blare the bull that makes me cringe? 
I pray my suffering's like that of fasting.
I hurt today for joy that's everlasting.


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!

MY DIARY — MARCH 24, 1962

Today was the sixtieth anniversary of the day I started my diary.

As I recall the inspiration which motivated the start of my “journal”, (which is what I called it once I discovered “only girls kept diaries”,) was a book I discovered on a shelf at home that was written in 1906.

March 24, 1962 was a Monday, and I assume it was the start of Spring Vacation because I wasn’t going to school. (Easter that year wasn’t until April 22, so we didn’t call it “Easter Vacation.”)

To fill in some background: “Dennis the Mennis” was a comic book character, (sort of a suburban Tom Sawyer, or a Calvin without a Hobbs, though he did have a dog named “Ruff”.)

My aim was to tell of my own impish boyhood. I wanted to have the tale be warm and fuzzy. At some point, (perhaps a few years later), my grandfather plaintively expressed how he wished he had kept a diary he could refer to, (being at that time 74, and fated to live to age 90,) and I recall being deeply impressed.

“The Short Stop” was a book by Zane Grey. I was an avid reader, for a boy just past his ninth birthday.

“Monkey Monster” was a game played in an enormous copper beech in front of the house. The tree had long, low branches. The person dangling from the branches was the “monkey”, and the person running around on the ground was the “crocodile” attempting to grab the “monkey.” My younger brother was four, so I had a distinct advantage.

The shoes I had left at school were my dress shoes, as opposed to my everyday sneakers. The school wasn’t locked, in those innocent times.

“The fencing match” is actually a trauma, which is why the diary did not continue the next day. (It began again when school let out for the summer.)

One trait of my boyhood diary is that it goes silent when things I really wish I’d written about occur. My parents were two years from the start of an extremely acrimonious divorce, and the “fencing match” involved an athletic woman my father was in the process of having an affair with. Watching him talk to her made me want to cringe. Even at the age of nine I knew “this isn’t right”, and I also knew it was wrong when my Dad stated to my older brothers, “Don’t tell your mother; she wouldn’t understand.” Incidents such as this didn’t fit my reason for keeping a diary, which was to speak of the joys of boyhood. Even the tribulations in “The Real Diary Of A Real Boy” tended to be misunderstandings which, when resolved, brought tears to your eyes. The tribulations of my boyhood were not resolved, and were things I simply did not talk about. Whenever the diary stops I know there was heartache too painful to mention, yet after a period of some sort of recovery the diary always restarts.

As the diary continues on into adolescence, I do start to talk about things which were formally unmentionable, but my responses were often “alternatives lifestyles” which now make me cringe. The damage done by drugs is painfully obvious in the pages, which at times are downright crazy. Then there is a getting-religion and going-straight period of psychology and parapsychology which becomes cultish, and after that there is a reaction to the cults which involves pages and pages and pages of dreary soul-searching. Eventually the diary becomes more sparce, at times little more than lists of chores, because I became more comfortable with writing actual letters to actual people. However now, with the advent of cancel-culture, there are times I revert to the safety of secret pages.

In any case it has been sixty years. Yikes!


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.


A few posts ago (in “Shutting Down”) I described a bit of my struggle to keep a small business open, as our area saw an “open winter” without snow give way to a whiter world, brought about by a mere three inches of snow. Three inches is nothing, this far north, yet schools were cancelled. I was scoffing over how soft modern people have become, which is unwise, as fate has a habit of making you eat your words.

After that snow the winds swung to the west, and then northwest, and then the north. The fresh snow cover, plus the fact Hudson Bay had frozen over to our north, plus the fact the arctic air no longer was moderated by passing over the unfrozen Great Lakes to our west, blasted us with sudden -20-degree windchills, (-29 Celsius). What was hard became harder. Things tend to break down more in cold weather, because the cold stresses out machines. The machines which made life easier abruptly make life harder.

Metal which likely was already fatigued is stressed just a bit more, and solid steel cracks. Big bolts break. When temperatures dip below zero (-17 Celsius) flexible fanbelts get stiffer and snap.

Even when belts don’t snap, they can slip from pullies they fit on when weather was warm, because everything has contracted. In essence the entire machine has shrunk. As improbable as it sounds, an old belt, stretched by usage, may work when the entire machine is warm, and also work when both the machine and belt have shrunk simultaneously (if the rubber shrinks to the same degree as the metal), but, when you start up the machine and the belt starts spinning, it will warm faster than the body of the engine (though not the depths of the engine, where firing occurs in pistons) and therefore the rubber will expand faster than the pullies, and the belt will slip off a pully. In conclusion, the engine you carefully tested to make sure it worked, when weather was still warm before winter, won’t work, when the cold clamps down and you need the belt to work.

This sort of mechanical failure infuriates me, because I took care to make sure the machine was running beforehand. I did not neglect my responsibility. But rather than praise and a pat on the back for being so good, the dratted machine breaks just when I need it.

In like manner I have been made aware, over the years, that having property which is over two hundred years old exposes one to all sorts of plumbing done back before bureaucrats existed to demand things be done “to code.” All sorts of ingenuity was involved, but such ingenuity involved knowing that certain maintenance also was involved. Because the original owners were long gone, I wasn’t instructed about the required maintenance and had to learn to do it the hard way. IE: the pipes froze, and I had to thaw them. I then learned to do a sort of preventative maintenance all my own, and put heating lamps in certain places, and taped heating-tape on certain pipes, set to turn on when pipes approached freezing. So here too I had not neglected my worldly responsibility. I had complete confidence pipes would not freeze. But they did.

Once again, I deserved praise and a pat on the back for being so good, but once again rather than rewards I received punishment. I had worked hard, and deserved time off, but instead had extra work to do. My livelihood depended on my response to a developing emergency. A storm was coming, and I ran a Childcare, but had no water and no way to remove the snow from the parking lot.

Such situations do tend to test our faith. We believe good behavior should earn good times but are confronted with bad things happening to good people. The violins of self-pity are in full chorus as we become “pluggers”, and face the violin’s music, and trudge to do what we do not want to do, in places we do not want to go.

What did I want to do? Well, I wanted to do what I am doing now. I wanted to write. About what? About how beautiful the way our Creator works is.

In this specific situation, before the belt slipped from the pulley and the pipes froze, I was fascinated by how a single frigid Arctic airmass was being split into two, by its passage over the Great Lakes. The southern part was warmed while the more northern part was no longer warmed by Hudson Bay, as Hudson Bay was frozen over. Therefore, downwind of the Great Lakes, there were two airmasses, separated by a front. To the north it was very, very cold, and to the south it was merely very cold. Yet the difference between the two coldnesses was an actual front, where no front had existed before, and it had actual pulses of weak low pressure on it, with weak warm fronts ahead of them and weak cold fronts behind them.

If my good behavior had earned me what I called a good result, I would have received a grant so I could study this meteorological phenomenon like an intellectual. Instead, I had to deal with a belt that slipped from a pully and with frozen pipes. This is not exactly desirable, because dealing with belts and pulleys in cold weather can make hands raw and knuckles bleed. Also dealing with frozen pipes in 200-year-old houses involves crawling and crouching in dirty places and getting dusty spiderwebs in your hair and beard.

At this point it is hard to talk about how beautiful the way our Creator works is. It is all well and good to marvel over how the Great Lakes split a single airmass into two, with a front appearing out of the blue between the two airmasses, and how the front has the meteorologists ripping out their hair because their computer models didn’t see the front appearing out of the blue. But when circumstances have your own hair getting ripped out by your own frustrations, the marveling over how the Creator works isn’t so enjoyable.

It is even harder when the energy-policy of nit-wit-politicians has precipitated a supply-chain-crisis which makes it impossible to obtain the new, tight belt that would make your snowblower work. It gets even worse when you have done all the old tricks that used to thaw your pipes, and they don’t work, and your pipes refuse to thaw.

When everything is going wrong to this degree, my weakness is always exposed. I only keep plugging because there is no alternative. I utterly forget to marvel over how beautiful the way our Creator works is, and instead, like a gnat badmouthing a galaxy, do a whole lot of faithless complaining to our Creator.

I should know better by now. I should know that, if you are a mostly decent person who mostly tries to be good, most of the time, when everything goes wrong it is to save you from some horror you were too blind to foresee.

Just last fall, the malfunction of the Childcare heater downstairs may have saved the lives of my daughter and granddaughter, who lived upstairs. At the time I found the malfunction extremely exasperating, especially because the replacement part was unavailable, due to the shenanigans of bigger corporations buying-out smaller corperations, and also the Biden supply-chain crisis.

Because my Childcare needed heat, I found the unavailable needed-part by stealing it from an identical upstairs heater, which was “backup” and almost never used because the upstairs was heated by wood. But this left the upstairs with no “backup” heat for when the wood fire went out. It would be irresponcible to leave that backup heater unrepaired. So, it then took time and all sorts of on-line-seeking to actually obtain the hundred-dollar-part to fix the upstairs heater, (the alternative being to spend nearly four thousand for the installation of an entirely new heater) but at long last the part came in. When the repairmen went to put it in upstairs, they discovered that, perhaps because the upstairs heater had been used so little, a 99-cent rubber hose had atrophied, fatigued, and failed. The purpose of that cheap hose was to vent carbon monoxide. If that back-up heater had been used, with that rubber pipe unreplaced, it could have killed my daughter and granddaughter.

Conclusion? How beautiful the way our Creator works is? Maybe? Maybe all these annoying breakdowns occurred because He likes my daughter and granddaughter? (I will not be so vain as to suggest I deserved the mercy.) In any case, the experience should have made me have faith that clouds do have silver linings.

Not that the cloud is not a cloud. When you turn on the heater in the fall, and it refuses to simply turn on, and instead of machines making life easier you are dragged into hours and days and weeks of your precious time being spent figuring out how to remedy the malfunction, it is definitely a cloud. Nor, when things are finally fixed, are your daughter and granddaughter awestruck and filled with gratitude. They are often not even aware of what happened; they are not changed. But maybe it occurs to you that, considering they might have been changed to corpses, it is nice that instead they are the same.

In any case, I should know better than to complain, when the machines which are supposed to make life easier fail. But I forget. And when, even when I keep on plugging, nothing gets better, I confess to a failure of my faith. Unspiritual words materialize on my lips. I find myself doing what my mother described as, “spitting snakes.”

I think the worst was last weekend. As I dealt with copper pipes in the sub-freezing, spider-webby bowels of 200-year-old structures, (both at home and at work) my wife was cooking for a lovely dinner for a lovely friend who deserved a lovely birthday party. Right from the start she was in a world of loveliness, and I was some sort of foul rat that appeared from the bowels of the underworld with frost on my mustache and spiderwebs in my beard, the epitome of filth when she was trying to clean house. But then she caught a bad cold, and these days everyone is frightened of sniffles, fearing the coronavirus. So, someone had to transfer the already-prepared food and flowers (but not the germs) for a lovely dinner to another abode. So, that someone was me, despite the fact I still had frozen pipes to fix, and spiderwebs in my hair.

My wife knows me well and is well aware when I’m about to completely lose it. She can see snakes writhing in my mouth which I do not spit. So, she decided to do the wise thing, which was to say, “I think we should pray.”

That was very nearly the last straw for me. A thousand snakes writhed on my lips. I didn’t want to pray; I wanted to complain.

What had I to complain about? Well, just about everything, beginning with the fact the weekend was passing and I had no time to write. But it would have sounded absurd if I had blurted that complaint just then, though it was on the tip of my tongue, “Screw frozen pipes! Screw your stupid party! Screw praying! I just want to write!”

God knows the talent I think he loaned me is, “writing”, and that I believe God will not be pleased if I “bury my talents”. So it is, I have persisted with my writing, even when friends have suggested my writing is a waste of time. Yet, at the same time, I have not “neglected my worldly responsibilities”, even when that makes writing hard. I have been tempted to “sell out” but have never completely done so. I might have become one of the “elites” but have preferred to be a “plugger.”

When the violins of my self-pity are at their loudest it seems very unfair that after more than a half century of effort, my reward is to crawl about among spiderwebs in a 200-year-old basement which is so cold my breath is freezing to my beard. Meanwhile my fellow writers of fifty years ago, who sold out to become whores and gigolos of the elite, not only have time to write, but get their drivel published, and never have to crawl in cobwebby 200-year-old basements. Their lives are so luxurious they have no reason to get down on their knees and pray, but I have every reason.

I hesitate to pray. Why? Because my prayer would be nothing but griping, devoid of praise and gratitude. Why? Because it seems unfair that the good get humbled while the evil get luxury. It doesn’t seem a good reason to pray: Only because you are driven by misfortune to do so. One should pray from a grateful heart. It seems evil people have more reason to be grateful and therefore more reason to pray (yet they are atheists.)

However, when push comes to shove, and I think of the lives those elite actually live, I know I am the lucky one. The elite have fame, but for what purpose? They have money, but for what purpose? They have power, but for what purpose? Their purpose always seems to be some ungodly, sleazy desire, some brief orgasm that will leave them jaded, and wondering if it was worth it.

I too wonder if was worth it, as I shiver in spiderwebbed cellars at age sixty-eight, but it is for a different “it.” When the elite (seldom) wonder if it was worth it, the “it” that they refer to is a sell-out. When I do so the “it ” I refer to is a loyalty.

In any case, when, within the immediacy of the present, my wife said we should pray, my immediate inclination was to sputter that she could take her prissy inclination and shove it where the sun don’t shine. (I confess that to show you I am no saint.) But, perhaps because I am a coward with my wife, I said no such thing, and agreed to pray. My prayer was a bit gruffly lame, something along the lines of, “Lord, you are King of kings. You’re not my plumber. But help me with these stupid pipes.” Then my wife prayed much more nicely. And then I gathered up stuff for a party at another place, and, after delivering the stuff, headed back to the cobwebs.

And right off the bat I noticed a difference, perhaps due to the prayer. The violins of self-pity had gone silent. Rather than all that maudlin emotion, I’d became pragmatic. (There are many who know me who would state that alone was an amazing miracle.)

To explain the situation, you need to understand the water for my Childcare must first come through a ruined farmhouse which once deemed the Childcare an “outbuilding”. (How an outbuilding can become a source of income as a farmhouse slumps to ruin is interesting. But don’t ask.) I had become dirty making the basement of that abandoned farmhouse warm despite the fact the place is unheated. Besides fixing the 500-watt heating lamp which had gone out (and which usually keeps the pipes from freezing) I’d added other lamps and heaters. The electricity bill was going to be through the roof, but I no longer could see my breath in that basement, and the spiders were coming out of hibernation. Yet over at the Childcare water still didn’t run. Why not?

My imagination dreamt up the worst: The frozen pipes had likely overstressed the well pump. I’d have to get the local well-fixer and we’d have to drag up ninty feet of plastic pipe and wiring from underground in the bitter cold wind, and it would cost a fortune, and the part we needed would be unavailable due to Biden’s supply-chain-crisis and…and…and calm down. Be pragmatic. First, check the power to the well. Does the well have power? Yes. The well has power.

Second, is it possible to check the water pressure here in the farmhouse cellar though the water is turned off in the farmhouse above? I followed pipes through spiderwebs and spotted a little spigot where the pipe went underground on its way to the Childcare. When I turned the spigot water gushed out. So…all the worry about the well was just imagination.

So…why was there no pressure over at the Childcare? I trudged out and across to that building, and turned up the heat, wondering if the pipes had frozen over there as well. It had never happenned before, but the sub-zero winds had really been blasting. And also there was no deep snow to cover the skirts of the house, and keep the wind from penetrating to places it seldom could go.

The pipes hadn’t seemed frozen. When I had opened the taps the water had flowed out, diminishing to a trickle, and then ceasing. But, checking the faucets a second time, I noticed that the cold-water tap wasn’t dry; water again flowed out and diminished to a trickle, but this time it didn’t stop; it kept dripping. It was a slow drip, but as I listened to the drops tap in the metal sink I thought the dripping was ever so slightly faster. I went to turn up the heat even higher, and when I returned the dripping was speeding up. The cold water was melting a channel through ice somewhere, but why didn’t the hot water work? The cold water became a trickle and then a steady stream. It then occurred to me that if I shut the cold water off the pressure might build throughout the system, so I gave that a try. After a pause there was a clunk up in the ceiling, and a sigh of air came from the hot water spigot. Then there was another clunk, and icy cold drips started to come from the hot water spigot, slowly becoming a dribble and finally a stream of water that slowly grew warm. Ta dah!

I was about to congratulate myself and call myself a genius, but remembered the genius only appeared after I had prayed, so I thanked God. It is easier to thank God when the water is running.

Just then my cell phone buzzed. It was my oldest son, telling me he could swing through the Childcare parking lot in the morning while doing other plowing jobs. So that solved my snowblower problem. We would be open for business, even though the schools would be closed.

Last but not least, I had to deal with the frozen pipes at home, where my wife likely huddled sniffling with quilts around her shoulders, sad about the lovely celebration she was missing. I had better get those pipes unfrozen at home, if I wanted peace.

As I trudged out to my battered jeep and drove down the icy road evening had descended and the full January moon (called the Wolf Moon by some natives, but I prefer those who called it the Mad Moon) was rising as a smear of light in the thickening cirrostratus of the oncoming storm. My weekend was shot, and I’d had no time to write. And I’d more to do, yet strange quiet filled me.

At home we’d figured out the pipes were not frozen under the 250-yeqr-old house, where I had heating tape along the pipes, but under the kitchen sink, where we did not have to deal with any cobwebs at all. This occurred because a stream of icy air gushed up there to replace air leaving the house through the woodstoves. With the cabinet doors shut the pipes froze at the level of our knees. I hoped we’d solved this problem because we put a heater under the sink, but as I entered the house my wife, huddled in quilts, informed me she had good news and bad news. The good news was that the pipe had thawed under the sink. But, besides producing cold water from the faucet, the pipe immediately started to spurt cold water under the sink.

I didn’t even curse. I still felt the strange quiet. I said we’d better shut the cold water off, and my wife said she’d already done so. I then did the pragmatic thing, which was to praise her for being so smart. Despite smiling brightly, I then felt a halfhearted urge to softly curse because I figured the copper pipe had split, and wearily wanted to just leave the problem for another day, but, perhaps due to the strange quiet, (or because I felt on a roll, in terms of problem-solving), I immediately crouched to look under the sink. Swiftly I saw that rather than a split pipe it looked like a fitting had been loosened by freezing, and just needed to be tightened, so I got a wrench and, sure enough, a couple twists stopped the leak. Ta dah!

Then I loaded both woodstoves with hot-burning oak and opened up the drafts so they roared, and even, (because my wife had a cold,) cranked up the thermostat of our propane heat, which we’ve hardly used this winter, due to Bidenflation. Only then did I sag, or perhaps collapse, into my armchair by the woodstove.

The weekend was over, and a Monday loomed. There was no time to write, or to study the truly interesting nuances of meteorology. Not that I couldn’t attempt to push myself, but over the years I have found that seldom pays.

Not that study and writing doesn’t involve pushing against limits. “Cansel Culture” is not really a new thing; it has merely become more blatantly obvious. All my life I’ve been pushing against a sort of power that wants Truth stifled, and when I’m writing well, one way I know I’m succeeding is when people tell me, “I’ve always thought that, but never dared say it.”

I know I’m failing when my brains hit a sort of wall of exhaustion, and the writing dissolves into incoherent non sequiturs, mixed metaphors and lines of logic that taper off into dead ends. While this can be fun, as a sort of self-research and exploration of my own subconscious, it is nothing most people want to read. It belongs in a diary, not a blog.

As I sat back in the armchair and felt the weariness seep out of me, I thought back over the decades to the times before I was married, when I could be much more irresponsible, and seek to avoid the exhaustion caused by working a Real Job by sleeping in a car or a campground or my mother’s basement. Oddly, even when I had far more time to write, I still produced garbled nonsense.

It was so frustrating seeing my writing was garbled nonsense, when I was trying so hard, that I would try even harder, in a sense banging my head against a wall, and becoming all the more garbled. Upon the borders of insanity, I needed to do some menial chore, such as once was prescribed for the insane in madhouses. I needed to take up basket-weaving.

Because I was not actually in a mental institution, (though this world does resemble one, especially in the Swamp where the elite live), rather than basket-weaving I would get a Real Job. This never failed to end the garbled nonsense in my skull. I discovered it was not such a bad thing to sit by a fire, too tired to study and too tired to write. For some reason it was better to be responsible, even though flipping burgers or shoveling manure seemed far less grand than poetry.

To young poets this seems to make no sense. Flipping burgers is better than penning poems? But, after years and years, I see a sort of sense in it. Worldly responsibility is to obey a given, and it is given by God. If you attend to your worldly responsibilities, you are obedient to the Creator, and blessings befall you. Peace descends upon you. Rather than garbled nonsense your thinking produces sanity so refreshing it is called “blessed assurance.” Such inspired thought is what poets long to have their poems hold, but they will not gain such inspiration by being irresponsible and disobedient.

After all, a writer’s gifts are given by God, so how could they be furthered by being disobedient? Perhaps this explains why so many artists who are gifted begin in brilliance, and then fail to improve, and instead slump into decrepitude.

Others do not slump. They begin in brilliance, responsibly obeying the demands of their gift, and then run into the demands of the corrupted, the Swamp, the elite. These demands are very different from God’s demands, and the demands of worldly responsibility, and certain artists defy the Swamp, and endure a crunch, and die young.

I obviously haven’t died young. I was spared such a fate by the fact I was never recognized as a writer, and never had to be a recognized speaker about art, before those who despise the inherent honesty of art. Instead, I am recognized as a slightly mad fellow who knows how to work hard, and who writes a garrulous blog which few bother to read.

I stretched, cracked my knuckles, and woke my laptop to look at the blood-and-guts reality of the oncoming Monday’s weather.

It looked about as bad as it could be. We’d get seven inches of snow, followed by drenching rain and then a flash freeze. What this does is turn snow into slush which freezes into rock. It involves a frantic time trying to remove the snow before it turns into slush, made very difficult by the fact the snow falls fastest just before it turns into rain, at rates up to three-inches-an-hour. Even if you have removed all the snow an hour before it turns into rain, there may be a swift three inches which is reduced into an inch and a half of slush. The slush is murder to shovel and impossible to budge with snowblowers and taxes even plows, and at times it would be best if people left it alone to freeze to a level and flat surface, rough and not all that slippery, but people can’t leave it alone. They drive through it, which will freeze to deep ruts, or walk through it, creating footprints which will freeze to deep divots, and these features can last for weeks before thaw comes, and can be annoying and inconvenient and such a royal pain that people who can afford it run away to Florida.

I can’t do that, so looking at those weather maps didn’t relax me as much as such gazing usually does. All I could see was that I had my work cut out for me. Yet the strange sense quieted me. I just faced a Monday, and Mondays return us to work, and I could see a lot of that lay ahead.

As I hunched over my laptop by the woodstove I noticed delicious odors began emanating from the kitchen. My wife had withheld a single lovely dish from the rest, as she sent the best far away to a lovey party. It was some southern dish called “shrimp and grits”, but the grits were much more like cream than any grits I ever ate when I lived down south, and the shrimp were swimming in a sauce I can’t describe, except to say every bite seemed to hold two hundred calories.

Between three and four thousand calories later I felt I’d made up for the two or three thousand calories I’d burned off in the sub-zero cold. I was also glad the Biden supply-chain-crisis hasn’t yet reached shrimp and grits or cream or butter in these parts. However, plonking between three and four thousand calories into my digestive system ended any inclination I may have had to do more than scrutinize weather maps at my laptop. Poetry was out of the question. Good poetry involves starving, and I was the opposite of that. I dragged my bloated belly about to put wood in fires, which I do because Biden supply-side stupidity has made using our propane heat so expensive. However, I was glad we have any propane at all, for it heats our hot water, and I needed a long hot shower to thaw my frozen fingers and feet and wash all the spiderwebs from my hair. I nearly fell asleep in that shower. But I did manage to make it to bed and slipped into slumber thinking that sometimes shrimp and grits and a hot shower is a better weekend than many of the Swamp’s “elite” will ever know.

Then it was Monday morning, and snow was swirling. I stumbled from my bed to coffee and my weather maps, hoping the snow would swiftly change to rain. Indeed, only fifteen miles to our south the rain-snow line rushed north, and they had only three inches of snow which was nearly washed away by the rain that followed. However, there is a reason people around here flee to Florida. We are the worst-case scenario, more often than not, and we got seven inches of snow with only enough rain to make a mess.

Ordinarily, I would have been snow blowing before dawn, striving to remove as much as I could, even as the snow fell, to reduce the amount of slush later. With my blower in the shop, awaiting a belt to make its way through the Biden supply-chain-crisis, I found my post-prayer serenity continued. It was assisted by the fact that rather than snow blowing before dawn, I was sipping a coffee and scrutinizing weather maps on my laptop.

It felt strange to drive to work and find my son had already cleared the parking lot. I only asked him to swipe through one time, so customers could drop kids off without parking, and depart without getting stuck. Instead, he had backed up and repeated the forward swipes many times, (despite many other jobs he had to do.) There was little left for me to do by hand, and I set about shoveling in the winter wonderland in a relaxed manner. The snow was so thick that for a while we had no children at our Childcare, with a staff of three. But eventually parents did arrive to a parking lot clearer than the roads. A single five-year-old chose to stay outside with me, as I shoveled paths to all the side doors, because the State insists all “fire exits” be clear, even when there is no chance of entrapment occurring. But as the snow changed to rain even that tyke preferred going indoors, as did I. I wanted breakfast and more coffee, for I knew what was next.

What was next was the war with slush. Worst is the simple fact the town plows want to remove slush from the roads, which piles slush across driveways to a height of a foot or two. If that slush-wall freezes, only jeeps will have the clearance needed to enter and exit, and smaller cars can’t pass. Therefore, people who know the cruelty of our climate make extraordinary efforts to remove such berms before they freeze. You witness people desperately attempting to attack such piles of wet, heavy slush with snow-blowers which can’t do the job. It is a great day for fellows with plows, for people with snowblowers will pay them high prices for the single swipe that removes what a snowblower can’t. But woe unto those who are so new and wet behind their ears that they do nothing. To remove the berm after it is frozen solid is beyond the power of a plow, and requires men with pickaxes, who are hard to find in these modern times. I’ve seen some newcomers walk out to the berm across the entrance to their driveway with a twenty-five-pound bag of salt and dump the entire thing onto the berm, and then scratch their heads, for it has no effect. Once temperatures drop below twenty (minus seven Celsius) salt loses its ability to melt ice. The war with slush is only won by attacking the slush before it freezes.

I’m a bit of a fossilized throw-back to the past, for I dodder out and remove the slush-berm with a shovel. I have developed a very slow way of working and know how to pace myself, so I never quite lose my breath. It gets the job done. But my Childcare has an intern, a girl not quite eighteen who was working because she got the day off from school, and she came bouncing out to help me shovel. Of course, she put me to shame. She didn’t need to pace herself. What’s more, she could chatter away as she out-worked me. I barely have the wind to speak, when I am “pacing myself.” It is humbling when the old work with the young, but we did get the job done, and I must say she did cheer me up a lot.

The rain had ceased, and the wind swung around to the north and began blasting, and patches of blue sky appeared between the ragged, hurtling clouds of purple. The slush was starting to freeze so I hurried home to tackle the berms there. One good thing about such work is that it keeps you warm, and I didn’t mind being out in the whistling wind, watching the silver linings of the purple clouds turn golden and pumpkin as the sun sank low. But as I worked my cellphone rang. I do mind taking my gloves off in the whistling wind to operate that danged, newfangled gadget.

It was my wife, concerned that the woodstove upstairs at the Childcare belched smoke each time the wind gusted. I asked her to look at the thermometer on the stove pipe and see what it read. She texted back “a hundred.” Diagnosing from afar, I said the stove was too closed-up and the chimney was too cool to develop a good draft. She should open up the stove until the thermometer rose to nearly five hundred, at which point the chimney would be nice and warm and draw well, whereupon she should close up the draft. Then I went back to shoveling.

After a bit I got a text, “What temperature did you say I should let it get to?”

I replied, “Five hundred”.

She said, “It’s eight hundred.”

I replied, “That is way too hot. Shut it down.”

She replied, “Should there be orange spots on the stove pipe?”

“Wouldn’t surprise me if that pipe glowed red, at that temperature.”

“No. Orange spots” and she sent me two pictures:

I replied, “Shut it down completely. Immediately. Be right there.” Three minutes later I was there, and the chimney fire was out. Fortunately, the fire apparently was only in the metal stove pipe and not the brick chimney. In any case, the stove was drawing extremely well, though there was no smoke to draw, for the intense draft created by the chimney fire had reduced the wood to a bed of smokeless, glowing coals. I didn’t trust the stove pipe, so we let the fire go out. So…it turned out it was good that I’d had the upstairs propane heater fixed, months before.

Tuesday saw me drive to buy a new stove pipe. Nothing like a nice drive on a clear winter’s day. Then I returned to fix the upstairs stove pipe. Even as I worked, I learned from my intern the downstairs propane heater made a strange “wuff” sound when it started up, and “smelled funny”, so I went down to check it. It started perfectly normally when I tested it, so I dismissed the problem and went home for lunch. While eating I got a text from work that the latch on the front gate was broken. It would not latch, and little children could push it open, run out into the parking lot, and get squished flatter than a pancake. It hadn’t yet happened but would, if the latch wasn’t fixed.

Sigh. No rest for the weary. Still, it was a beautiful day, with the icy wind dying and the cold moderating and the sunshine golden. This time it was me, and not my wife, who remembered to find time for a quick prayer. Then I was off on the three-minute drive to work, noticing the odd calm I felt. Rather than annoyed I felt serene, and I actually enjoyed fixing the latch. It only took a few taps of a hammer, and then I got the satisfaction seeing the gate swing shut and click securely closed.

That got me to Wednesday, “hump day”, when my wife mentioned she’d also heard the downstairs heater go “wuff” and make a funny smell. It refused to do the same thing for me, but with another blast of sub-zero air coming I felt I shouldn’t take any chances. The propane repairmen happened to be in the neighborhood, so I got them to swing by. Bad news.

They were going to have to “red tag” the heater, which had burned a hole in the heat exchanger. (A “red tag” means it is against the law to use it.) My wife exclaimed it worked perfectly well most of the time, and the repairmen stated it would begin to exhale more and more carbon monoxide inside rather than outside. I pointed out we had CO detectors right over the heater. The repairmen then showed me the hole in the heat exchanger, and I had to agree it was impressive. I stated the heater was only twelve years old, and the other fellow stated we get new cars before our old ones are twelve years old. I growled my jeep was twenty-two years old, and then asked if we could get a heat exchanger from the identical heater upstairs, and both young men shook their heads. The heat exchanger was the body of the furnace. You can’t transplant a body.

I regarded the young men skeptically. Were they trying to sell me a heater? So I asked them if they could sell me a heater. They said they couldn’t. Question answered.

I then asked them if they could put one in, if I could find one midst the supply-chain-crisis. They said they could. Then I asked them what brands were good, and we had a talk about the pros and cons of propane heaters, with a few knee-high children around us, looking up from face to face with great interest.

And the subject of propane heaters was interesting, as most things are when you talk with the fellows involved. Propane heaters involve a jargon all their own, just as poetry does. I had an interesting chat, as my wife got practical and moved electric heaters about to keep the place from freezing. When she asked me to shift a heavy one from the stables I bid my young friends adieu, telling them I’d get back to them when I’d located the particular X-brand propane heater, which we’d decided fit our Childcare best. I assured them I had a friend who knew about heaters, who likely would suggest a wood-pellet stove, but after that would be good at finding propane heaters in obscure warehouses, despite Biden.

Then, after shifting a big electric heater, I went out to the playground to see how my staff was handling the kids. It’s the first week in a long while when no employee has called in sick, or hasn’t needed to be quarantined, so I wasn’t needed. After fooling about with a couple children I headed off to deal with firewood, but just before I vanished around the north side of the building I noticed the two propane repairmen walking back from their truck and coming around the south side. Their truck was parked around the Childcare in the back driveway. I figured they’d gotten stuck in the deep, frozen ruts of slush, as that drive was never plowed. But what they said was that they had told their boss about the fix our Childcare was in, and he’d said he might know a warehouse that had X-brand heaters, and as they sat in their truck he’d checked on his phone and found one. Was I interested?

I asked about the cost, which would pretty much wipe out our January profits, but more importantly I asked about time. Was this going to be a situation where I’d have to wait weeks and even months for a supply-chain-crisis item? They stated they’d know by the next day, and if they got the heater, they could put it in Friday morning, as the arctic blast moved in. So that became the plan.

On Thursday the downstairs was heated with electricity, and by noon on Friday we were heated by propane again. I again bid adieu to the young repairmen with a joke they confessed they’d heard a hundred times, “Thanks, and I hope I never see you again.”

Meanwhile I was getting ready for the next crisis, which was a storm not even on the maps, but which had the media in a complete tizzy. I saw my newly repaired snowblower’s new belt worked as I used it to clear crusty snow from a few places, and I split and moved firewood to wood boxes and porches, and then collected the week’s payments and filled out the receipt book and made out the deposit slip, only to discover that the bank was caught up in the tizzy and was going to be closed Saturday morning. And this was for a storm which, even Friday evening, was barely a blip in the isobars off the Carolina coast.

On Friday night I once again sagged in my armchair, once again too weary to write. I glanced through the news and rolled my eyes. Thousands of thundering, protesting trucks rolled across Canada towards Ottawa, and the media said it was nobody. An amazing funeral procession for a young officer in NYC exhibited a “sea of blue”, and the media said it was nobody. The news seemed such “Fake News” that it reminded me of something I heard years ago about Meher Baba back in the 1930’s, as World War Two was a “gathering storm”.

The story was that Meher Baba would glance very briefly through only the headlines of the papers, before casting them aside, and when asked why he did this he stated he needed to stay abreast of the “bogus” news. That was around 1936. I suppose this shows that the more things change the more they stay the same.

The calm given by prayer persisted, and besides rolling my eyes I felt no inclination to rip out my hair, nor to rave into the night. I’d fulfilled my worldly responsibilities, and if it left me too tired to write, well, it could not be my responsibility to write. I just jotted a few notes in my diary, concluding, “I think I should just go to bed. If I write I will rave.”

But then something funny happened. I stayed up just a while longer. I liked how “If I write I will rave” rolled off my tongue, and playfully wrote a sonnet:

If I write I'll just rave, and so instead
I'll just go to bed. It isn't my fault
This world's gone nuts. I've banged my poor head
Against the brick wall of wrongs, but can't halt
The false belief crime pays. It sure appears
That evil men prosper. The good seem fools
Which makes me a fool. I'm past shedding tears
For my sorry self. It seems old age cools
The passion of youth, and desolation
Hardens me into a man made of flint.
I'll strike some steel, and spark this nation
To fire for righteousness, or so dreams hint
In the dark of this night which evil's bred,
Where rather than write I just go to bed.

I awoke to a day of wonderful rest. I only went to the Childcare early to feed the goats, rabbit and chickens when the snow was only a couple inches deep on the roads, rejoicing in the world of whirling white, and then just snuggled in at home and ate and napped and dreamed by the fire and out the window at the dark day’s moody views. It was my responsibility to rest.

The storm did “bomb out” exactly as forecast:

This storm was no big deal in our hills. The storm a week ago was crueler, by changing to rain and making frozen slush. This is pure powder, and will be easy to remove, tomorrow. Also the deepest snow hugged the coast. Boston might get two feet, but we’ll get less than a foot. And even Boston ought not complain, for I recall big storms where the snow was heavy and sticky. But they will likely still have their tizzy, as I have a day off.

I have fulfilled my responsibilities. Unusual for a poet to be more responcible than a bank, but I chuckled that the local bank did not fulfill theirs, by closing down when the snow never got over three inches deep, during the hours when they would ordinarily be open on a Saturday morning.

And simply by fulfilling my responsibilities I have been given this day off, and feel rested, and able to write.

What should I write for? Well, partly to document what a poet deals with when he runs a small business, but also to demonstrate how power appears where you least expect it, in a storm. In the past fortnight I have changed from wanting to rip my hair out to serenity, from a tizzy to calmly watching the tizzy of the media. Just as the two maps above show a huge storm appearing from a calm, this post shows “time to write” appearing where least expected, in a storm.

Likely I should give credit where credit is due, and point out the pivot point was prayer, but also, I like to focus on how beautiful the way our Creator works is. Just as so-called meteorological “bombogenesis” is not a miracle, but a natural and scientifically explainable event, so too are some unexpected and remarkable shifts in human affairs.

Back in the age of sail “bombogenesis” used to catch even the most weatherwise fishermen off guard. Some of the most amazing descriptions of the explosive development of the Blizzard of 1888 are those of fishermen who sailed out on a tranquil spring-like morning, and barely made it back alive. Nor did fishermen always make it back alive. At the Glouster Fisherman’s Memorial there is a list of every man who died so that we might have fish on our tables, and it can be seen that one year a terrible “bombogenesis” decimated the fleet.

My conclusion is this: There are those who think they are weatherwise in terms of politics, and that they have everything figured out. They are like fishermen sailing out on a spring-like morning. They are like the first weather map above, where an innocent 1005 mb low floats off the Georgia coast. They are clueless to how swiftly things can change.

Such people think they themselves are the boss. If there is to be any bombogenesis they feel they will be the authors. They will control the “reset”. But they are not the boss. Truth is the boss.


P.S. despite all the media hoop-la, we only got around six inches. It was hard to measure because winds scoured some places right down to the ground while drifts were over a foot in other places. But it was light and flurry and easy for snow-blowers to handle. I doddered out and had the Childcare lot cleared as temperatures warmed from 2 to 10 (-17 to -12 Celsius) before church, and did the back drive after church, and the work was sort of like worship, and therefore allowed on Sunday.

How was it like worship? Oh, that’s a whole post for the future, if I live so long. What matters now is this: I am responsible in the small sphere given to me. That is enough.