it has to stop

Just an ordinary week in October. Yet it was not.

I could not keep a grip on things in daily normal functions. My toothbrush. The dogs’ medicine bottle. Spilled dog food. Picking up dog toys to clean the floors I stood too fast and slammed the back of my head under the counter. The washing machine died. I probably paid too much for a new one. How would I know? I never bought a new one before.

Thousands of migrants leaving their homes because their countries are destroyed and instead of fixing it they are coming here.

The pipe bombs.

So today, 10 days before the elections I refuse to  watch television. Any programming at all. I refuse to look at twitter. Back in April I deleted my facebook account. I just got tired and depressed from all the anger.

I needed silence.

I busied myself with stuff I figure I can’t hurt myself doing. It’s beginning to get colder so I am gradually moving plants inside the house from outside and on the porch. Spraying for bugs, finding spots of sunshine for them inside.

I scrubbed the bathrooms.

And cooking. Sometimes I bake bread, sometimes I make comfort food. Today it was the latter. Roasted vegetables, chili, spaghetti based on my mom’s recipe. She could cook anything better than anyone or any restaurant. Not gourmet, just good, hearty food.

I won’t have to cook again for weeks.

Rescue dogs Lily and Lulu watched me through all this activity, hoping I would notice it also had stopped raining and a walk in the park would be kind of fun. So off we went.

As she often does Lulu found a spot on a bench and jumped up to rest and watch the world. My phone dinged so I checked it. Nothing important but I tapped on a news icon.

Another shooting. A synagogue. People celebrating joyous life events, when out of nowhere a nightmare explodes in their lives. I wanted to scream at that very moment, but instead I prayed.

I prayed for the dead and their families. For the wounded. For the crazy insane man that shot them. And then I realized.

It’s not Trump’s fault. It’s not Maxine Waters’ fault. It’s not Christine Blasey Ford, Justice Kavanaugh, Bernie Sanders, Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton’s fault.

It is us.

No matter what another person may tell us to do or not to do, no matter how much we may dislike someone or something, no matter how unfair life seems. We each one of us is responsible for ourselves. What we say, do, the choices we make.

Not Maxine Waters.

Not Donald Trump.

Not anyone or anything else.

Us.

God help us.

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11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  –Jeremiah 29:11

 

 

 

collateral damage

This is a term that’s being flung about a lot lately, by all sorts of people, for any number of reasons. I am beginning to wonder whether they even understand the gravity of it.

Be that as it may, I think it applies here. Yes the storms are over now. Yes, electricity has mostly been restored, people are mostly back in their homes, clean up is well under way.

But some are not.

There are many people who were in apartment buildings. This is not so strange, except for those whose complexes suffered serious damage and are uninhabitable. And the people cannot return to them. And FEMA will take several weeks to sort this out and compensate them.

What then?

And there is the river.

IMG_0696.JPG  Mouth of the Cape Fear river, Snow’s Cut bridge at the Atlantic Ocean

North Carolina has long been known for tobacco, but another cash industry here is Smithfield, and most of the hog farm pork producers are here. These farms I learn have a way of dealing with hog waste using lagoons. When the river flooded the lagoons were breached.

Our electric company uses coal as a source for generating power. I learned the waste byproduct is deposited in coal-ash ponds. When the Cape Fear river flooded these ponds were breached.

So much more happens than the power of nature in a storm. The contaminants created by humans are our own undoing. The storm came because that’s what storms do. The river flooded because the storm’s rains and tidal surge overwhelmed it. Everything else? Well, that’s because we didn’t plan well enough to protect the river and environment from our own mess. We thought we had things contained, but we did not.

I remember a comic strip years ago, “Pogo” by Walt Kelly. A famous line from it was “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” Mr. Kelly expounded on this more extensively–

“Traces of nobility, gentleness and courage persist in all people, do what we will to stamp out the trend. So, too, do those characteristics which are ugly. It is just unfortunate that in the clumsy hands of a cartoonist all traits become ridiculous, leading to a certain amount of self-conscious expostulation and the desire to join battle. There is no need to sally forth, for it remains true that those things which make us human are, curiously enough, always close at hand. Resolve then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tinny blasts on tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us. Forward!” — Walt Kelly, June 1953 **

While we may in fact be our own enemy I like to give benefit of the doubt in thinking most of our self-damage is among our best-laid plans. We thought we had it safe and secure. We found we were mistaken, at a great expense. So we go back to the “drawing board.”

IMG_0703.JPG While I do not know this couple for me their slow, meandering stroll is a redemption.

 

A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” –Proverbs 16:9

 

 

**https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pogo_(comic_strip)#%22We_have_met_the_enemy_and_he_is_us.%22

 

 

 

 

 

 

resilience

It’s strange. It’s like the trauma of the storm has regenerated spring. I first noticed some petunia seeds I sprinkled on a hanging basket from last March which were profusely blooming all summer long. I brought them in during the storm because they are fragile and they promptly dropped all their blooms and disappeared.  Nothing but black potting soil. Ever the optimist I rehung the basket and watered it a couple of weeks ago just after the storm. Now this

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Then, watering in the front yard several days later I looked up to see the Bradford pear (which isn’t actually fruit bearing at all but an ornamental tree). Most of these trees broke apart in the storm or were irreparably damaged in some way because they are disease- and insect infestation-prone, but mine survived.  This

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in full bloom with new leaves sprouting. One of my favorite small nurseries and plant supply stores explained it this way: the trauma these plants endured made them regenerate with something of a vengeance and those that bloom are doing so for survival, to set seed. My river birch (the tree my elderly neighbor has a personal vendetta against) also is putting out new leaves

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So I have no idea what this means for the fall season. We don’t really get much fall color here because we’re sub-tropic and it doesn’t get that fall cold edge really. But I’ve not seen this before.

Then we have the “normal” fall flowers, goldenrod

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But resilience. We bounce back. We may have a set back but we get our bearings, dig into our resources, get creative, work hard and regain whatever ground may have been lost.

Nature’s way, human nature’s way, too.

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“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”  –Joshua 1:9

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self control.”   –2 Timothy 1:7