The Christmas Battlefield

As my cousin David’s 5th grade teacher once said: “There is NOTHING as OVER as Christmas”…

nothing-as-over-as-xmas

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Da babies have new nicknames.

Our  little shih tzu Miss Toot is now completely blind. Her sense of direction was lousy when she had sight, and it is now nil. On top of that, with her little pushed-in snout, her sense of smell isn’t all that great, either. So Mommy or Daddy have to carry her out to “take the air”.

We don’t want her anywhere near the pool – she has already had two nice but unanticipated little swims therein. So we deposit her on the grass, and let nature take its course. Then, we watch. She invariably heads off with great confidence and a cocky little gait – in the absolute erroneous direction. So, we haul her back inside. and she gets a nice drink of water. Out with the old, in with the new.

I have decided that her new nickname is “Wrong Way Corrigan”.

Lucy the tzoodle (that’s shih tzu/poodle, also known, when she’s being bad, as our shiht-poo), on the other hand, is young and full of piss and vinegar. Also, she will eat/chew on virtually anything. John is always picking up sticks that she brings in, along with other vegetation. But today, I was at my computer and heard a loud kerfuffel in the bedroom.

It was John, and frankly he was yelling at Lucy. Being 10 months old and a Whirling Dervish much of the time, Lucy gets yelled at a lot, by both of us – but this sounded serious.

“ARE YOU CRAZY, you silly dog? Don’t you KNOW how bad that is for you? Of COURSE you don’t – so I’m telling you now. DON’T EAT THIS. BAD BAD BAD for you, you dumb puppy! How many times do we have to tell you? DO YOU WANT A BAD PUPPY TUMMY ACHE? DO YOU WANT A TRIP TO VET? NO, you DON’T! Take Daddy’s word for this! STOP, Lucy, STOP! Go back to STICKS, PLEASE! I won’t even yell at you over sticks anymore, I PROMISE!”

Yep. Threatening, passing on important information, and negotiating – with a puppy. Always successful. Still, he tries. And she looks at him with true adoration, so maybe SOMETHING is getting through.

Meantime, I am interested now. This was a major kerfuffel. John had been in the shower, and when he came out, he had found Lucy chowing down on something yummy. She had one piece in her mouth, and he stepped on a couple of other pieces in his bare feet. Hence the kerfuffel.

He got it off the carpet and out of her mouth. It was pieces of the pool deck, which has some bad areas. Not many, and not large, but enough for a puppy to delight in, and to bring into her area for later nom noms.

We KNOW she’s teething, and that almost anything tastes good to her. But seriously – pool decking?

Being a huge fan of Bosch and of his creator, Michael Connelly, I had but one choice, of course.

Lucy is now the “Concrete Blonde”.

 

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Don’t let the door hit you as you exit.

Ralph W. Sockman (you really should google him) said, among MANY OTHER THINGS:

“The test of courage comes when we are in the minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority.”

I’m splitting this into two parts.

Part One:

“The test of courage comes when we are in the minority.”

Now, most of my friends and I are in the minority at the moment, and it isn’t pretty. We need a little sustenance. So, let us turn back time and listen once again to Longfellow, who frankly was a good kid when he had it.

“Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.”

And to any of you Trump supporters who may still be (ma)lingering on my blog – this second part is for YOU.

Part Two:

The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority.”

If you cannot do that –

Please don’t let the door hit you on your way OUT.

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Two Uncles + One Poem = Small Epiphany

I got gobsmacked by two dead uncles today.

If you want to know why, read on.

First, the back story.

I was lucky enough to have had several uncles when I was growing up, on both sides of my family.

I loved and am grateful to them all, but two of them remain in my heart particularly.

One uncle was on my mother’s side of the family.

The other uncle had been a close friend of my father’s long before he ended up falling in love with and marrying my father’s sister.

Uncle Willis was the guy who married my mom’s younger sister Katherine.

Uncle Arch was the one who married my father’s adored baby sister Mary Elizabeth.

So, now you know the players.

In my early years, I saw much more of my Uncle Arch, because he and my Aunt “E” lived in the same town we did. But my father died when I was 8, and Mama and I moved away when I was 10.

However, during those same years, I also got to spend summers in Oklahoma, with cousins and Aunt Kate and Uncle Willis (also grandparents, and other wonderful cousins, aunts and uncles – but they are not a part of this particular story.)

What I want to point out here is that both of them knew and spent time with me from childhood, and I loved them.

Uncle Willis was a man of few words. He was a person who taught by example. He lived his life in a way that was a silent but potent inspiration. He rarely complained, never explained.

Uncle Arch was similar in many ways, although I believe he had a better “education”, school-wise. Still, although I would have to say he was more erudite, his life was his statement, just like Uncle Willis.

Finally, we come to the gobsmacking part.

One summer when I was with Uncle Willis, Aunt Kate, and my cousins, I remember Uncle Willis getting on my case because I was slacking off on my (very) few chores. I didn’t want to hear it, but he was right.

I remember VERY CLEARLY, that he said: “Hey, Kid! Life is real! Life is earnest! And time is fleeting! Now get those dishes washed!”

Cut to a couple of decades later, and my Uncle Arch is quoting from a poem, for no particular reason that I remember – but I loved it, and asked him to write it down, and he did. I carried that little piece of paper in my wallet for many years, until it fell apart. It was the last quatrain of a very famous poem, though I didn’t recognize it at the time. I just knew that I liked it, and that they were words to live by.

I must confess that although I was an English major in college, we weren’t required to read much Longfellow at the upper levels, although I had read him in junior high and high school. Still, I should have recognized the poem. It is probably one of the most beautiful ever written, after all.

My uncles, coming from two VERY DIFFERENT backgrounds – both obviously knew it. Many of the lines from it are instantly recognizable, even by those who are not familiar with the entire poem.

But I didn’t make the connection until today.

Go figure.

Anyway, if you have held out this long – please stick around and read the whole poem. Most of you will go “Oh, of COURSE” – but I’ll bet you anything that you haven’t read it recently – or that you remember all of it!

And in any case, I find it SO relevant to what is happening in our country today that it bears reading again.

So, here it is. Thank you, Uncle Willis and Uncle Arch. You both gave me bits of this excellent poem at completely different times, and years apart. The words resonated then, and they resonate even more now. Let us hope this poem (and the poet) gets a bit more air time in the coming four years – and long after.

A Psalm of Life

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act — act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Happy New Year – Godspeed and Good Luck – we’re going to need it!

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Thank you, Mexico.

Just watched the beginning festivities for the US football game (Raiders v. Texans) being held as I write in Mexico City. This isn’t the first game that has been played there – my Cardinals were there in 2005 – but let’s be clear that this game is WAY more important. There was fear that the players would be attacked. The players were told to stay in their hotel rooms. They were told to be careful about eating any food from room service. Yeah. And no wonder. Moreover, there was fear that the the U.S. flag would be booed. That the singing of our Nation Anthem would be booed so loudly that it wouldn’t even be heard (LOVELY rendition of our anthem, as it happened.Had NO trouble hearing it.) The fear that our players would also be booed. But apparently, Mexico is classier than the US is at this moment in time. Not only was there absolute silence during the very beautiful rendition of our anthem, but also a magnificent display of our flag – made up of a ton of people holding up cards on the field. It was a huge display that took up much of the field. Judging by what I saw, everyone in the stadium was standing. There was applause at the end. They then did the same for the Mexican flag, and the Mexican anthem. Again, respectful silence throughout, and applause at the end. The applause did NOT sound any louder for their own anthem, though. Amazing. I am beyond impressed. Considering what our Oompaloompa-elect has said about Mexico and its citizens, they would have been WELL within their rights to show NO respect AT ALL for our flag. And we’re not talking about a bunch of politicians playing nice. We are talking about a giant stadium full of a huge cross-section of Mexican citizens. I repeat. Very classy. Respect-wise, they are leaps and bounds beyond ANYTHING our Bad Comb-over-Elect has ever shown to ANYONE, much less to Mexico. Thank you for rising above, Mexico. Thank you for keeping it classy. Now – GO RAIDERS!

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Welcome to the depths of despair

Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney in the Trump cabinet. And let’s not even TALK about the Supreme Court, and the guy he plans to put in charge of the EPA. Remember that Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times”? It is a very accurate curse that has stood the test of time. Remember the fall of the Roman Empire? Does the phrase “bread and circuses” ring any bells? We are staring annihilation in the face, and I’m betting all the Democrats in Congress are going to either knuckle under or just scratch a hole in the carpet trying to hide their heads in metaphorical sand.

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We the People…Not so much these days

Any system that expects to thrive by emphasizing differences rather than similarities is doomed to fail. The unfortunate thing is that it may take YEARS – even GENERATIONS – for that truth to come home. Meanwhile, the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer. And the middle class is destroyed. Remember the fall of the Roman Empire. Those in power gave the people “bread and circuses”. They gave “the people” just enough food to keep them from starving, and they gave them “entertainment”. It led to the downfall of EVERYONE, rich and poor. We are looking at the same thing. And if we THE PEOPLE allow this attitude to continue, we will deserve what we get.

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