A Walk in the Woods

Sometimes when I walk in the woods I come home with a Haiku.

Then, the challenge is to remember it long enough to write it down!

Giving yourself what
You need isn’t selfish, its
Your number one job.

Posted in Random Thoughts | 2 Comments

Puppy Energy Haiku

Photo credit to Liam Finlay!

Oh little Freya
Eyes, ears, nose explore the world
Joy canine-i-fied!

Posted in The Finer Things | 2 Comments

Omnivore Haiku

We have a fifty
Five pound omnivore in our
House. How about you?

Posted in Random Thoughts | 4 Comments

I’m Gonna Stop

Below (and by that I mean WAY below) is a post that I started in April of 2019. How much has changed since then…and how much, inside of me, has stayed the same? After that day I did publish a few more posts, but nothing regular. And those posts were mainly fraught with anger and angst about the state of the world, the then occupant of the White House, etc.

How much has changed…and how much has stayed the same. I write that as a statement, but it is actually more a question I need to ask myself. After all, I’m 68 years old and heading relentlessly toward 69. The past several years have aged me — not just because of the passage of time. And not just because of what has happened and been revealed, but also because of how I have spent my energy.

Too often still, albeit less than before, I check Twitter feeds that I know are just going to make me angry. I look for tweets that demand a retort. And too many hours have I spent, trying to fashion pithily devastating responses to the MAGA crowd. Lately, and this is progress, believe me, I’ve deleted those pithy tweets rather than post them and invite further exchanges that will demand retorts.

So that’s all good, but there’s still space in my brain that’s being taken up by tire-spinning ire. Why am I drawn to argue and rail against entrenched and hateful delusions? (Actually, I know why, and maybe I’ll post about that one day if I haven’t already.) But for now, the point is more to just stop. Just say no, as the woman who solved America’s drug epidemic all those years ago advised.

I went to a poetry reading yesterday. LR Berger was sharing poems from her latest book, Indebted to Wind (available at Gibson’s). It was an inspirational hour, and one that set me to thinking about what I’ve been doing with my time and life.

I have given over too much power to precisely the things that I rail against. And I can change that, with daily choices to, not look away so much as to go deeper. Going deeper means exploring new ground rather than bumping into the same wall(s) over and over. I’ve been using this angst-ridden time as a distraction. And truthfully, I have bigger fish to fry, bigger questions to ask. I mean, I’m nearing that decade that begins with a 7. Some of you, dear readers, are already there, I know. Please don’t judge me…I know I’m being a bit of a wuss. And get ready, because I’m coming!

Now, here’s that post from 2019…so much has changed and so much has stayed the same…

April 2019 — Titled “I’m Doing It, Too”

Is Elizabeth too shrill? Amy too mean? Kirsten too ambitious? Kamala too, too, too…something? I find myself worrying and opining about these things, even as I know how wrong-headed it is.

Look where judging Hillary on the basis of ‘likeability’ got us? Thanks to those who just couldn’t ‘like’ her enough to vote for her we now have an ignorant, petulant, and brutish crime boss in the White House. The only saving grace, here, is that the comb-over dude is so ignorant and inept that he is relatively ineffective. But the judges alone, supplied for our enjoyment direct from the Federalist Society to our doorstep, have set the cause of justice back for decades.

The reality is that a white male candidate is judged differently. It’s embedded in our culture and it poisons the process. Check this out: https://www.salon.com/2019/02/14/are-female-candidates-authentic-the-sexist-trope-thats-attacking-the-2020-field/

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Taking Charge

…one small step at a time.

Each moment I have an opportunity to be in charge of myself and make choices that each have a part in steering how my day goes.

I know I’m not in charge of what happens to me — the things that come my way. But I am in charge of my responses and my choices.

Do I give myself what I need to thrive? Do I respond with openness and compassion to those who cross my path?

Even on Twitter? (Really? Even on Twitter?!)

What do I feed myself? Both in the kitchen and metaphorically.

Do I seek out positive or negative energy? Do I step into my day with energy? Or do I slide into it without conscious volition or agency?

I remember how I used to feel when I rode my bike to and from work. I did it for years, first in suburban Philly, before I had a car. And later, here in New Hampshire in the late-eighties and into the nineties.

No matter what, when I started my day that way it became a kind of adventure. I’d arrive at work, already feeling accomplished and energized. It was my day and that made a different sort of a day.

So what about now? I am no longer actually going IN to work. And biking to work has long been a thing of the past. But recently I’ve been in the habit of walking in the woods in the morning. And that led me to think about how I bring myself to my at-home work each day.

Working remotely from home has plenty of perks. But one of the downsides is that the boundaries between work and home can easily be obliterated. So I’m starting to think of those morning walks as my commute.

I leave the house when it’s light enough to see the path, and I walk through the woods to work. It helps me ‘leave home’ and bring myself to my workday as mindfully as I can. PLUS I get a good start on my daily steps.

I’m sure I won’t do it in all weathers. But I really like this walking idea. It becomes my gift to myself. Like biking, all those years ago, I’ll do it when I can, and arrive at work feeling accomplished and energized.

And I love how it gives my day a shape and flavor that it wouldn’t otherwise have.

Posted in Random Thoughts | 4 Comments

3 Haiku’s

I’ve set a weekly goal, to reread what I’ve written each week and then concoct a blog post based on that material. But this week, as for so many weeks before, what I was writing about was the angst and dangerous wastefulness born of Trump’s refusal to interact meaningfully with reality.

So, rather than rehash things that we’ve been unhappily dealing with for 4 long years, I’m going to share 3 Haikus that have been percolating for awhile.

Hope you are having a peaceful Sunday…

What Comes with the Task

I’m washing the dishes
Hot water warming my hands
Calm comes with the task

Gathering pine cones
For winter bonfires ahead
Joy comes with the task

And raking acorns
Off hillside trails that we walk
Poems come with the task

Posted in Random Thoughts | 8 Comments

What a Week It Has Been

I feel like a great weight has been lifted. Today just felt palpably different from yesterday. I have relished the simple relief of a Sunday without the worry of what Trump might do.

Of course, that worry is still there for awhile. And it’s not like a miracle. In fact, I suspect as time goes on and we all have more space to reflect, both the communal and the personal toll of these past four years will come to increasing clarity.

But watching Joe and Kamala speak last night I felt like I stopped holding my breath. There were human beings on the stage, and they were going to step into the roles that Trump and Pence have been defiling, each in their own, inimitable ways, these many, many days.

And the people on the stage were smiling and looked like they were truly enjoying themselves and one another. So different from the Stepford family and staff members that have stood at Federal podiums for the past 4 years.

I went to sleep saying to myself, with true and deep relief, “No more Bill Barr, no more Stephen Miller, no more Betsy DeVos,” and on and on and on. There is so much to clean up and so many wrongs to right. Not all of it can be undone easily.

Oh, and in all the angst of the election, that little matter of COVID kind of slipped to a back burner, while the numbers continued to rise.

Yes, though, a great weight has been lifted. I apologize for the image, but my sense is that Trump’s sweaty, smelly, fake-tan-dripping, dough-boy body has been on top of me and everybody else in the country for four years. That’s no longer the case. He’ll flail for awhile, make threats, do the usual. But he’ll lose relevance. The sycophants will peel away. As time passes and self-interest kicks in, that will accelerate.

Meanwhile, isn’t it great just to breathe?

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Here We Are…

Since July I’ve had a writing practice that involves simply writing — about anything at all — for 5-minutes a day. The aim is to just write for 5-minutes, no more and no less. I’ve missed a few days here and there, but mostly I’ve done it.

And going back to read through the snippets is an interesting exercise. Because the writing is fast and not especially self-conscious, it gives me a different window on my life and my thinking than I usually give myself.

So, one thing I notice is how the themes of fear and anger have been a sinister underpinning to everything else that’s happened in my days. Starting in July, they’re a thread running through those brief, 5-minute snippets. And both have loomed larger and larger as the months have passed.

The daily outrages of Donald Trump, his administration, and his enablers in the GOP have been inescapable facts of life in the United States for far too long. Anger and disbelief have been dominant themes for me, since November of 2016. It’s been exhausting.

The fear has been a more recent development. It’s fear of COVID, fear of chaos, fear of violence, fear that ‘the centre cannot hold.’

Trump is despicable, destructive, and out of control. He incites his ‘followers’ to violence, and there’s no telling what may erupt in the coming days and weeks.

And yet, there are aspects of this entire experience that have felt like an unmasking. Yes, The Donald is grotesque. But what about us? What about the myth that is the USA?

The fear and anger I feel as I witness the havoc wreaked by Trump et al is a dim echo of things that people of color in the US have experienced in their everyday life for centuries. What kind of a snowflake am I, that I can’t take 4 years?

And it’s a dim echo of what people all around the world have felt. Fear as we throw our weight around and anger at the self-importance and self-righteousness that the USA sports like a badge of honor, everywhere it goes.

The ugly, unmasked face of American exceptionalism is MAGA.

So, since I mentioned the fear that the centre cannot hold, I’ve got to include Yeats’ beautiful poem. These days it feels like some beast is slouching toward Bethlehem. I just hope that we get to have a humble and redemptive hand in deciding what gets born.

The Second Coming 

William Butler Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre   
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere   
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst   
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.   
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out   
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert   
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,   
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,   
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it   
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.   
The darkness drops again; but now I know   
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,   
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,   
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

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I Just Can’t…

I remember when Trump ‘won’ the GOP nomination and how crazy that felt. Then I remember when he ‘won’ the election and how scary and disorienting and crazy THAT felt.

I remember watching his inauguration at work and how surreal it felt. Remember how he talked about ‘American carnage’? Well, it’s absolutely here, now, thanks to this President.

For those of us who didn’t quite recognize the shattered ruins of a once-great country that the president described at the time, it’s now arrived on our doorsteps. Even without the juddering trauma of a coronavirus that has closed streets and schools, and asphyxiated the economy, and killed thousands, the world he painted then ended up becoming our world now, but with his response to this crisis, it’s grown ever worse.

Dahlia Lithwick in Slate — April 2020

At every turn in the road during this #deplorable debacle called the Trump Administration norms that seemed well-established have been trampled. The process had gotten started before Trump’s arrival (thank you Mitch), but since 2016 it’s accelerated, well, like a POTUS on steroids. Every single time I have thought, “It can’t get worse than this,” it has. Every single time I have thought, “Someone will stand up and say no to this. Someone in the GOP will put country above party,” they have not.

It reminds me of a rather insightful if garbled thought that Dubya shared some years ago:

There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.

George W. Bush

Yes, the guy whose standing has been shored up significantly by the orange clown has actually taken some principled stands when it comes to Donnie. But one has to wonder what he would do if he were still in politics. Apparently for everyone in office in the GOP, hanging onto their jobs is job #1. Power is what matters, not governing, and certainly not the Constitution..or, god forbid, the people.

So anyway…

…now Donnie has conquered COVID and masks are absolutely off the table. Forget those rumors about Adderol, now he actually is on ‘roids from his White House doc! His tweets are in all caps, mostly, and his son Eric recently announced that POTUS saved Christianity. (If you listen to the snippet of an interview, there’s also mention of peace in the Middle East. Wonder how Jared feels about that?)

Poor Eric is just trying in his poor Eric way to make his daddy happy. I’m guessing that he went to college somewhere, but I’d be surprised if he gets a lot of mention in the alumni bulletin. Not something you’d probably want to advertise if you were involved in higher education. Unless maybe you were Liberty University.

Anyway, when you live in unreality and things are going bad, really bad, you have to balance it out with things that are really good. So it must be a measure of how very, very bad things actually are if saving Christianity is now on the table. So kudos to you, Eric, because you probably did right the ship for a moment or two.

Bottom line…

Despite the balcony pose, Donald ain’t Evita, as Patti Lupone so wonderfully opined on Twitter yesterday:

We absolutely can’t let this horrible sociopath continue in a position of power. Oh wait, did I just hear that Susan Collins thinks he’s learned his lesson now that he’s had COVID?

NOPE. It’s clear that no one will stop him except us voters. So let’s close this revival by slamming down the curtain HARD on November 3rd!

Vote, folks — and not ‘like’ our lives depend on it.

It can’t get any clearer — all of our lives actually do depend on it.

Posted in Random Thoughts | 2 Comments

Nothing New Under the Sun

It’s a thought I sometimes find comforting, as with the phases of the moon rolling through each month or the return of spring each year.

But more often it’s disquieting, as in the apparent fact that humankind is stubbornly incapable of learning and seemingly doomed to repeat history’s mistakes.

Over and over.

In the news these days we see the endless repetition of stupidity and lies in the service of money and power. The bigger the lie the better, apparently. Memes and slogans catch fire, while words and ideas have become pretty much meaningless.

Science? No.

Medicine? No.

Reality? No.

Trump is actually more of a tool than anything else in this. He’s a primitive creature who acts and reacts on instinct. And at this point, he appears to be either drug-addled or dementing or both. So he’s not actually planning anything or pulling any strings.


Yeah, Hillary nailed it.

While he’s definitely not a reliable puppet, in the absence of something better he’s apparently a serviceable puppet. Otherwise, you can rest assured that he’d be gone.

It’s others who hold the strings. People (using the term loosely) like Mitch McConnell and Rupert Murdoch. But it’s not like there’s some grand, organized conspiracy. Nothing as monumental as Obamagate or Pizzagate. It’s just the age-old story of elites doing whatever they need to to protect their position and power.

So, here comes the sun…

Right now I’m listening to Trinity by Leon Uris and am reading The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates. And in each I’m finding striking similarities to these current times.

Trinity is an historical novel that’s set in Donegal, Ireland. While offering some sweeping glimpses of Irish history, it focuses on the late 19th and early 20th century, prior to World War I.

There in the North of Ireland, we find an entrenched upper class wedded to England and its Church. The privilege of this class of landed gentry is carried on the backs of the Catholics and, to a lesser degree, the working-class Protestants — mostly Presbyterians — who’d emigrated from Scotland.

Over time, and especially as the Catholics begin to gain small bits of political power, the Anglican gentry found ways to incite the Presbyterians against the Catholics. Rumors were started, prejudices amplified, and the have-nots were pitted against the have-nots, while the elites kept their hands clean and their power intact.

Move on to the slave-holding ugliness of The Water Dancer and we see something starkly similar. Here it’s the elite slave-holders inciting the so-called ‘Low Whites’ to do their dirty work. The Low Whites, marginal at best, act as slave-traders and overseers while the elites float above it all, wafting about ethereally on their plantations.

But when the elites feel their position eroding, the Low Whites are enlisted as enforcers. Furious about their debased place in the world, they are horribly brutal enforcers.

Of course, I’m greatly simplifying here.

But writ large doesn’t it look much like what the elites are doing today?

Their puppet Trump with his crazy lies and MAGA rallies inflames this age’s version of the Presbyterians and/or the Low Whites. Meanwhile, Mitch et al pass tax breaks for themselves and their friends. And they pack the courts with judges who will take their side when needed. It’s not about race or religion or patriotism or even money, really. It’s about power.

But then…

…there comes COVID-19, and the divides in this country (and around the world) are amplified. As Charles Blow summarized it in the NY Times recently: “This crisis is exposing the class savagery of American democracy and the economic carnage that it has always countenanced.”

And yet, the virus is no respecter of privilege, either. Even this isn’t something new under the sun.

Remember, the Plague effectively dismantled feudalism when it ravaged Europe in the 14th century. Can’t help but wonder what long-term impact COVID-19 will have on today’s elites and the shameful power inequality they cling to so desperately in this 21st century.

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