Walking in the Woods at Night

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Coming home from work on an icy Tuesday evening, it’s so tempting to change into jammies and grab a book and a warm cup of tea.

The darkness looks daunting and always, it holds the unknown.

Yup, nearly every night it’s tough to start out, whether it’s on snowshoes, spikes, or just regular walking shoes. But once going, and once that first hill is topped, there’s absolutely no regret.

And of course, there’s also the fact that these walks make Caleb so damn happy!

How different the world looks at night, especially when you’re going slowly and pausing to savor.

How enveloped in quiet and darkness you feel, stopping periodically to look around…

How thoughts come and go, as the headlamp sweeps from object to object.

You notice the singularity of objects that might go unnoticed in daylight.

You see isolated tree trunks, stolid, solitary, and mysterious.

How the contours of the land look different — stripped down and undulating. From the top of the Maple Grove, I can see Pat’s Peak, brightly lit in the distance.

Then there are the stars and the moon.

And gazing left and right as I go, I see so many places where no one has been yet.

Just snow. No people, no deer, no little rodents, no Caleb, no creatures of the night.

Not yet…

As the moon gets brighter this month, perhaps I’ll venture out without light, as Wendell Berry advises in his wonderful poem, “To Know the Dark.

To Know the Dark

To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.

But for now, I’m using my light to find my way home, and sure as the North Star, it always does.

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Tomorrow

Tomorrow is the first anniversary of the murders at Parkland High School.

In the twelve months since 2/14/18, there have been 1200 young people gunned down in this country.

1200.

In a project titled Since Parkland, student reporters have refused to let these needless deaths go unmarked. This project chooses to mark each and every death, putting names and faces and human stories to each and every loss.

“Working with The Trace, The Miami Herald, and McClatchy, student reporters set out to measure the void left in homes and classrooms that have lost young people to the pull of a trigger.”

Here in 2019, when the president chooses to foment fears and rail about a useless wall while ignoring this carnage, these stories underscore the callous inhumanity of the man. Ditto our Congress with its perpetual and cowardly refusal to take meaningful action. They offer thoughts and prayers while accepting handouts from NRA lobbyists and cow-towing to 2nd amendment bullshit.

And the project also calls out the media for its reporting and its focus on ‘mass shootings’ rather than on the true scope and horrifying, everyday impact of gun violence. These are student reporters, taking things into their own hands and refusing to let the deaths of their peers sink into oblivion for the American public.

Their stories tell us to turn our heads back and look, then look again, and again.

1200 times.

The need for action on this front is so clear. And the reasons for inaction are so deplorable. My hope is that people will stop looking away and the American electorate will demand a saner path of those in a position to forge it. Making these stories visible is a step on that path.

…and the real POTUS just whines

Meanwhile, in the real Oval Office, the performance artist known as Ann Coulter has weighed in on the wall. Communicating in the only format he understands, she is likely scaring the orange blob of protoplasm in the White House away from any kind of sane action. Instead, she prods him with her long index finger, moving the sensitive snowflake toward another Government shutdown.

And aside from the wall, Annie has other outrages to report in her Twitter feed. Apparently, something happened to her “Likes” yesterday and it sent her into a tailspin. Paranoia took over, as is its wont with conspiracy theorists.

She and her followers descended into tantrum country, where they intersected with the orange blob and they all commiserated. Having found a common enemy, Twitter libtards, they fell peacefully asleep in one another’s arms.

Postscript

I apologize for digressing and getting entangled with Annie again. The bad news is that I did go hunting for her on Twitter, knowing I’d be satisfactorily annoyed. The good news is I only stayed long enough to find the above. And the even better news is, I didn’t post a comment.

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My Fitbit Stopped Syncing (And I Couldn’t Find Peace)

Sadly, this title is true. It’s how I am about certain things.

I notice a problem and I just can’t let it go until I have figured it out and fixed it. This, unfortunately, isn’t true of all things. For example, if I had a problem with something like, say, getting up early in the morning to exercise, I’d just stop trying to do that silly, unrealistic thing. Or if I have a problem learning to speak German, I’ll let it go in a heartbeat. (And whose idea was that, anyway?)

But a problem like a Fitbit that won’t sync? That eats at me till I’ve got it fixed. So the obvious question is, “What’s the difference?”

The non-syncing Fitbit is a little like the name you can’t think of, even though it’s on the tip of your tongue. Or that song title that you are positive you know…but just not yet. It’s a problem with a solution that feels like it’s right within reach, if only…

So, when I notice myself saying ‘if only’ I know there’s a little bit of a magical element to whatever I’m thinking about. And that, in turn, is a great big hint that whatever-it-is connects back to my mother in some way.

And yes, now that you mention it…

The ‘if only’s’ were our daily fare, growing up. We each worked in our own child-innocent ways to solve the mystery of ‘Mommie’ and what made her happy (or conversely, what sent her off the rails).

It wasn’t something that we had the luxury of letting go of — we were immersed in it.

We entered every day with the hope that this would be the day. And we exited, more often than not, discouraged. Then we tried again.

The solution was just around the corner; we just had to find the right key, and keep trying until we did.

Same with the Fitbit…

So, back to my Fitbit, which stopped syncing on Saturday night. Off and on, through Sunday, I tried to get it reconnected.

I tried with my phone.

I tried with my PC.

Nothing worked.

Thankfully I’ve learned enough through the years to be able to put these things down temporarily. But I’ve not learned enough to let them go entirely. It settled in there at the back of my mind. Just this small, persistent feeling that something wasn’t right and I should be able to fix it.

Today…

So, still unsettled, I started in again this morning. And praise the Lord, I got it going. Persistent Googling helped (even though it hadn’t yesterday). Fresh eyes probably helped, as well. The key (this time) was turning off and then restarting my phone. Next time I’ll remember that — and maybe remember, too, that the Fitbit isn’t my mother and I’m not 5-years-old.

No matter what, for now, I feel much more peaceful, as I walk into my day (and count every damn step along the way).

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Two Challenging Steps I’m Thinking About

The first of the two came to my mind unbidden, though not for the first time, after seeing “If Beale Street Could Talk.” It has to do with football, a pastime about which I’m very conflicted.

It’s easy enough to continue along my life’s path of loving the game and rooting for the Eagles. But what am I actually supporting? What it looks like to me is a bunch of old white guys making tons of money on the backs of a bunch of African American men. Add in concussions and CTE and the exorbitant cost of tickets and the banishing of Colin Kaepernick (for peaceful truthtelling) and the bogus, militaristic flavor of the pre-game rituals…and it’s really, really hard for me to justify continuing to watch.

This is, as I said at the outset, something I’m just thinking about. It kills me to consider stepping away when the Eagles are more and more in the mix, so we’ll see where this goes. But when I also consider the time I spend, just on Fantasy Football pursuits, it’s even more sobering to look at this — and consider the potential personal benefits of turning away. There’s so much else to see!

Step #2

So the other step I’m thinking about springs from an interview with Cal Newport that aired on “Here and Now” yesterday and was shared with me by a fellow blogger (check out The Cozy Burrow). “Digital Minimalism” is the subject. The idea of minimalism has more and more appeal to me these days. And I’ve been noticing how much of my time evaporates as I look at screens, whether it’s my PC, my iPad, or my phone.

In the interview, Mr. Newport advocates letting go, for 30-days, of our obsessive connection with our apps. If something like removing the Twitter or Facebook app from my phone makes me nervous, isn’t that, right there, a great big red flag?

After all, is there, actually anything on Facebook or Twitter that I have a true need to know? And what am I afraid of. Silence? Being with myself? Being in my life?

Again, as with football, I am attracted to the amount of time that would be freed up by removing some of these distractions from my life. At the same time, it does make me nervous to let go of what has often become a block to self-intimacy — to the ‘going deeper’ that the author refers to. What would my life look and feel like with more silence? More thinking? More reading? More face-to-face conversation without a phone or tablet in my hand? I think I want to know.

So, what will I do?

On the digital front, it’s kind of easy. I’ll start by removing apps from my phone, leaving them on my iPad and PC. We’ll see where that goes. The phone part is the easiest, and I just did it. The iPad will be a heavier lift.

The football piece I’ll continue to mull. At least I’ve got a few months to see how it all settles for me. (And I’ll have extra time to think about it, with less time wasted on Facebook and Twitter.)

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I Can’t Even…

Sadly, I ended up ‘watching’ about 15-20 minutes of the Trump debacle last night because I didn’t want to miss Stacy Abrams.

Mostly I was on Twitter (rather than actually watching), and I thoroughly enjoyed some of the snarky comments. What I observed, and this isn’t new information but it’s still shocking, is how meaningless the words are that come out of the orange miasma’s mouth.

He is a grotesque caricature of a politician, lying with abandon and shunning any/all values beyond the quest for power. He reflects and amplifies what @GOP has become, representing the worst of America writ large. Only his hands and their corresponding body parts are smaller than normal.

And then the press and pundits have to try to interpret what he said. Their commentary, unfortunately, ascribes more meaning to his words than they actually hold. He’s just throwing things against the wall to see what sticks.

And the white men on one side of the aisle (along with a few odd women) cynically stand and applaud on cue. They don’t actually like him or believe him, but they calculate that it serves them to do this. So they do it, while the nation and the world wait to see whether they will ever, ever, ever be guided by anything more than their own empty desire to hang onto privilege and power. So far, they have shown themselves to be much worse than I’d imagined (and I thought they were pretty awful before).

The orange miasma–candid shot without comb-over.

A gaping maw of need.

There is something horrifyingly mindless about the words that come out of his mouth. His need for attention seems to be the thing that drives him as he lurches from one lie to the next.

He will, literally, say anything. His base, perhaps, provides some parameters for what he spews. But even their festering, fevered perversity won’t keep him tethered if they don’t feed him what he needs.

And, of course, there’s also the fact that he’s exploiting them. Lucky for Donnie, they just haven’t put the pieces together yet. Perhaps they never will.

Meanwhile, I note, this morning, that the sun has risen once again and Bob Mueller continues to quietly do his work. This gives me hope that even as Mr. Trump has empowered the worst instincts of American and made a travesty of everything he has touched, our institutions will withstand this craven assault and eventually prevail.

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SOTU? STFU.

I am avoiding the SOTU, are you?

Is there any need to watch the outrage of complacent, power-hungry GOP legislators applauding the blatant lies of the man who currently occupies the oval office? I feel outraged enough, every waking hour. And really, what purpose does it serve to witness the mocking travesty of his presence? Even though he spends more hours than not on #Executive Time, he’s done incalculable damage while Paul and Mitch and Lindsay have watched.

Having recently finished reading Michelle Obama’s thoughtful and inspiring autobiography, I am even more horrified by the kinds of people this country chose to elevate in 2016. Not just Donnie and Melania, but his kids and their spouses. And then all of his rogue’s gallery of appointees. The only good news is that their elevation has sent, and will likely continue to send, many of them to prison.

So, no, I won’t watch.

Time is precious and a diet of constant outrage isn’t the least bit nourishing. It does fuel some powerful fighting energy, but eventually, it burns you out.

I’d love to hear what Stacy Abrams has to say, though. My plan is to monitor Twitter to see when the orange plague stops spewing. Then I’ll head downstairs to the TV to catch what follows. Somehow, it feels like poetic justice to use Twitter against the tiny-fingered miasma known as @realDonaldTrump.

But now comes Bernie, apparently planning to give his own rebuttal, as is his habit and, I suppose, his right. I can (sort of) appreciate how a man who ‘fought the good fight’ for many years in obscurity would have a hard time letting go of the limelight, once he got it. But the truth is, Bernie, that without the platform that the Dems provided you in 2012, very few people would be listening to what you have to say.

The malaise that brought us Trump is too complicated to lay at your feet entirely. But I found your ultimate support of the Democratic ticket less than full-throated. And with so few votes making the difference, it’s really hard not to feel pissed at you.

And you know what? It poisons your message. You know how you run as a Democrat then go back to being an Independent after the fact? That’s beyond annoying, Bernie. It’s time to stand down and join forces with Party that gave you your visibility. The stakes are too high and your voice, like it or not, is divisive right now. So, in the gentlest possible way, and with all due respect, Bernie, I really wish you would take a deep breath, give it a little more thought, and STFU.

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Coyote Poop $#2

Yes, you could say I’m a one-trick pony.

Coyote poop in our woods – the REAL DEAL.

But you read the title and still you clicked, so I think you have to take some responsibility for your disappointment.

Meeka checking things out…

This will probably be my last post about coyote poop, unless I see it actually being delivered.

So there’s that.

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The Litigious Mrs. Drumpf

Melania won a settlement this weekend, in which “the British paper the Telegraph apologized and agreed to pay ‘substantial damages’ after retracting a story that claimed, among other unflattering things, the former model’s career had been struggling until she met Donald Trump.

Our Melania also, according to the story just quoted previously, won a “$2.9 million settlement with the Daily Mail over its false report in 2016 that she had worked as an escort and an unspecified settlement in 2017 with a Maryland blogger who reported similar unfounded rumours and also was forced to retract a post that Trump may have suffered a nervous breakdown after her speech at the Republican National Convention.

This is all from the Telegraph. I can’t vouch for the accuracy of these stories. So, Melania, I am merely quoting what I have read in the news. Please don’t sue me.

Be Best?

Wherever the truth about all this lies, Melania represents a drastic departure from the paths forged by other First Ladies. Much like her husband, she’s a different bird entirely.

“When they go low we go high” couldn’t be about Melania’s comportment in response to unfair attacks. No, if that were a phrase she uttered or understood, it would be about the damages she’d be able to go after, as soon as she got ahold of her pitbull attorney. (Same one Donald uses too, apparently — but I guess not Michael Cohen…)

So Melania, like Donald, doesn’t like bad press. And like Donald, she’ll sue your pants off if she can. And also like Donald, she has no compunction about going low herself when it serves her. The #deplorable pretty much speaks for itself.

Melania, sorry, you made your bed…

I won’t post any of the hundreds of online images of Melania from her ‘modeling’ days, but if you Google “Melania Trump career” and check out the images, you’ll be treated to quite a collection of pictures that, I guess, appeal to a certain type of guy.

Every once in a while a creepily seductive photo of Ivanka finds its way into the mix. Hard to know what to say about those, except that at some point in the coming years Donald will be answering for a lot (either to the Special Prosecutor or to the Creator that he and his base purport to believe in — most likely both).

But back to Melania and her terrible ‘mistreatment’ at the hands of the press and the public. People who have intimated that she was at one time an ‘escort’ surely have had ulterior motives and haven’t been willing to admit how cultured and classy she actually is.

Love this video – rather long but interesting in that it ends with Trump sharing threats to sue the makers of a documentary if it’s inaccurate. And he speaks for Melania constantly. But as noted above, she made her bed.

Last, here’s Ivana talking about her book. No one actually needs to watch the whole thing, but I share it mostly for Melania to see. Yes, sweetie, this is you in a few years. Seriously. you’ll have some kind of surgery, maybe more than once, and write a book, I’m sure. You’ll make the rounds of marginal talk shows, and maybe Donald will sue you if he isn’t in prison.

At @ 3-minutes in Ivana refers to her “Fabulous kids.” I’m not sure I agree, Ivana, but your delusions are clearly an important part of your life. Those kids of yours may not have had time to get in trouble while you were raising them, but they seem to have had a lot of free time lately. Clearly, Donald’s influence took over at some point. And smart? Not so much…

So anyway, back to Melania and her lawsuits. In the upside-down, inside-out universe inhabited by Trump, his circle, and his base, it appears they truly believe they are being wronged and are just standing up for themselves. Cognitive dissonance really isn’t an issue when you are deluded.

So Melania has no problem with:

  • Falsely, and with gargantuan insincerity, questioning Barack Obama’s citizenship and then
  • Complaining piteously about someone ‘falsely’ stating that her career just-possibly-wasn’t-over-the-top-prospering when she met her knight in shining armor.

Indeed, the most bullied woman in the world deserves nothing but our sympathy, in her mind. And if she doesn’t get that sympathy, well, she’ll sue the crap out of you.

God but these people are inspiring!

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Polar Vortex and Trump

So today in the Upper Midwest the projected high temps are going to be in the negative double-digits. Putting that in perspective, it’s warmer in Antarctica right now. And, as further sobering perspective, schools have been closed in a number of cities and mail delivery has been shut down due to the deep freeze. “The USPS announced in a tweet Tuesday that no mail will be delivered Wednesday in Iowa, Minnesota, North and South Dakota, eastern Montana, western Wisconsin, and western Illinois.”

And predictably, the avidly-attention-seeking @realDonaldTrump shared a tweet about this, putting his ignorance on display yet again. The science and spelling-challenged Fake POTUS wrote: “In the beautiful Midwest, windchill temperatures are reaching minus 60 degrees, the coldest ever recorded. In coming days, expected to get even colder. People can’t last outside even for minutes. What the hell is going on with Global Waming? Please come back fast, we need you!”

Meanwhile (and again predictably) this ignorant man pans a ‘low-level staffer’s’ book in a tweet. The end result is that this fool is actually publicizing the book on his big fat Twitter platform. The tweet reads “A low level staffer that I hardly knew named Cliff Sims wrote yet another boring book based on made up stories and fiction. He pretended to be an insider when in fact he was nothing more than a gofer. He signed a non-disclosure agreement. He is a mess!”

Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House is the title of the book by Cliff Sims. And reviewers seem to differ with Trump, not surprisingly. “‘Sims’s vivid portrait of Trump shrewdly balances admiration with misgivings, and his intricate, engrossing accounts of White House vendettas and power plays have a good mix of immersion and perspective. The result is one of the best of the recent flood of Trump tell-alls.’ —Publishers Weekly” 

The “admiration” part makes me question Sims’ judgment, but I suppose if he worked there, he must have imbibed quite a lot of Kool-Aid. And I’m not including a link to his book, because I’ve no need to help a former viper make money off the other vipers. I just enjoy watching them all turn on one another. (And of course there’s Chris Christie’s self-serving ‘tell-all’ that I’ll leave unnamed just because.)

And no matter how cold it gets, Matthew Whitaker is here to remind us all that when you lie, you sweat.

Meanwhile POTUS’ tiny fingers are furiously tweeting away in his sad bedroom at the White House.

How lonely it must be, to know, somewhere in the depths of your reptile brain, that you’ll never win your father’s love, that Nancy Pelosi (aka ‘Nancy’) has humiliated you, that your base is pretty damn base, and that even the likes of Mitch and Lindsay are starting to peel away like paint coming off a rotting board.

The end is near, and those custom-made tiny handcuffs are gong to keep you from slipping out of their grip.

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Coyote Poop

The world is filled with amazing things, starting with this: It’s right in the middle of the trail we walk in the woods near our house.

Coyote poop.

I intended to get a photo of it yesterday. But then I didn’t.

So, I think it’s coyote poop. What else could it be? It’s pretty huge, and if it isn’t coyote poop, then I’m thinking it may be appropriate to be scared.

And this may actually be more information that you want, but there’s a lot of hair in it. Some poor creature(s) devoured by the ravening beast in our woods. Yikes! The photo here is from the web and is an approximation of our sample, albeit on pine needles rather than snow.

With more snow on the way today, our coyote poop will be buried the next time I pass it by. I’ll probably unknowingly step on it with my snowshoes. Then it will be effectively obliterated by the snowmobiles coming through. Come spring it will have melted back into the earth.

It’ll be gone. But I’ll remember the odd, intriguing, slightly disturbing ‘otherness’ of the coyote poop in the middle of the trail. The Trickster paid us a visit, passing through and gently taunting us.

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