compliance

Driving over a thousand miles I had no preconceptions of what I’d see on the roads. I know some states have restrictions but not where I was driving. People are flying again and airlines are increasing passenger numbers.

Highways were crowded. Mostly semis but a lot of passenger cars, from all over. It was encouraging. People aren’t still cowering at home.

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Gas stations at every stop required a mask. The only stop where I did not see them worn, though there were signs for them was Alabama. The rest rooms were closed because of covid but no mask.

When I stopped on the way the first night the desk clerk was vocal about disliking the mask. I couldn’t argue and we had a good laugh about masks being hot, and not in a good way.

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When I got where I was going in Texas hill country the inn proprietor had no mask. Noticing mine (hard to miss) she said the whole county had no active covid cases and had only 3 people die of it, one who was 106 years old. Reassuring.

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So on my visit there were actual handshakes, hugs and normal distancing. What a difference from where I live. I reflected how sad it is, the level of fear. I realized these severe precautions are not so much concern for others as it is out of fear. And we don’t even see it.

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I hope my carelessness caused no harm, to anyone. But the warmth and normalcy were heartening. I had no idea how absence of human touch, or even the ability to choose it or not, had adversely affected me.

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Returning home to tropical storm Isaiah damage shocked me back to reality. The morning after the storm husky-mix rescue dog Lily decided to guard the little Bradford pear tree the storm knocked down, I suppose to make sure nothing else fell off. I had the tree cut down and cleared away before I left but debris piles are still around. Takes a while to clear it away.

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possum

We are early risers. Rescue dogs Lily and Lulu go outside for their last evening ablutions around 7. With cooler weather here we woke even earlier than normal today. Lulu got to pick front or back yard, and chose back. Lily ambled over to the end of the yard to scratch and sniff what changed over night. Lulu took the other side. Leaves flew, loud hissing and a grey blur darted out, long, ropy pink tail.

Oh no! Rats again. I looked closer before running to get a broom. Too big for rats. Small possum!

It was somewhat cornered. The house was to its left, I was behind it, Lulu was in front and Lily to its right. Lily had yet to catch wind of it and Lulu was feigning disinterest. It backed away, looking over its shoulder every second or two at me. I gave it a wide berth, and it turned and ran around me to the other side of the yard where it climbed the fence. Lulu, realizing her quarry was escaping dashed after it, too late as it topped the fence and toddled away. At this point Lily got interested and she and Lulu darted back and forth along the fence to see where it was.

Long gone.

I am happy to have these little visitors. They don’t carry rabies because their body temperature is too low. They feast on beetles, cockroaches, ticks and all sorts of other unwanted pests. They are virtually harmless and more afraid of me than I of them.

IMG_0216.JPGWe know something is out here. We’ll wait.

I haven’t seen a possum in the yard for a while. Maybe being so preoccupied with Lily and her surgery recoveries I hadn’t noticed. Besides, there are fewer steps to the front door than the back door so because it’s easier for Lily we’ve gone out there more than the back yard. Not much happens in the front yard. The occasional rabbit maybe.

I miss seeing deer. To many people they are big pests. They eat a lot of flowers and shrubs but they are so graceful. Where I moved from I often would see them early mornings at my bird feeders eating all the birdseed, then drink out of the bird bath. It did not take much to scare them off. They would sail over the yard fence like they could fly.

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There has been a lot of new construction in this little town. New homes, shopping centers. Development is normally a good thing but eventually there is no more room to build. Which means wildlife has no place to go. So they find themselves in backyards and some humans are not willing to share. Seems unfair to me. Here we have helped ourselves to their homes, cleared their trees and underbrush. When I lived in south Florida I learned about melaleuca, a small, non-native invasive tree also known as tea tree. These were planted everywhere because they soak all the water with their fibrous root system and make marshland dry. So every now and then a massive hurricane comes along where nature tries to reclaim itself.

Against humans it is something of a losing battle.

I wish I had an answer.

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

favorite quote: Day 1

Normally something like this would reduce me to quivering puddles of sweat but I so enjoy the blog written by *Not Easily Broken* (aka unbreakableyetfragile.com) that I am honored by the invitation. The rules are as follows:

THE RULES & MY NOMINEES

My Quote for today, Day 1:

Consider occasionally the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight.                          —Albert Schweitzer

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I always attributed this quote primarily to the treatment of animals. Even before I knew who said it. Schweitzer, theologian, prolific author (The Quest of the Historical Jesus, Civilization and Ethics among many others) was a medical missionary in Africa founding a hospital in French equatorial Africa and later being sent with his wife to a French internment camp in 1917. Upon release he returned to Africa and expanded the hospital and lived the remainder of his life there.

 

Excerpted: (https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1952/schweitzer-bio.html)

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Nominees: Angelagriffin.wordpress.com, unshakeablehope.wordpress.com, Uncletreeshouse.com

inspections

So this week my car’s annual inspection was due. This never takes long and I brought a good book for my wait. I’d not read a full chapter when I heard someone whispering my name which was strange because whenever my car is serviced they holler my name like an assembly line. So I turned and said “That’s me,” and a young man turned and gingerly walked toward me.

Uh oh. Car failure? No. He smiled sweetly, leaning in very close like they do at nursing homes when they ask the residents what they want for lunch and said quietly, ” I understand you’d like to discuss a new car?”

“No.”

I remembered someone calling the day before to let me know I’d be given some literature and they’d like to discuss this even though I’d declined this offer then, too. “I think I’ll keep this one a while longer.”

He smiled, nodded and disappeared.

Somehow when there is an apparent vast age difference the older person is either treated as though they might break or are impossibly hard of hearing and difficult to deal with. I remember my dad, well into his 80s, ordering a pizza for my son when we visited one day.

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I have no idea what the delivery guy said to Dad but it threw him into a rage and I came running when I heard my father yelling at this kid who was totally unaware of what he’d done or said to set Dad off like that.

So I begin to understand why that happened. We are not old! Our bodies do not in any way reflect who we are. I understand there are many who, though young at heart and mind do not appreciate who they see when they look in a mirror. Looks change. Metabolism changes. Science tells us incessantly how our bodies stop or start doing certain things “due to advancing years”. Botox, body sculpting, face lifts, plastic surgery. Who wants to look like a Barbie doll at the age of 63?

Yet we have younger people who see old people, not who our minds are or our hearts, but the effects of aging. They see grey hair, wrinkled brows, thin, dry skin on arms

th.jpgand hands, age spots. They see watery eyes, baggy necks, slower pace.

 

 

But they don’t see wisdom. Understanding. Grace and patience that come from pushing hard through life, hitting walls, breaking them down, productive, fruitful years.

So rather than go off like a cannon as my Dad did I smile. I thank God that I have made it to a point in life I only saw before from the outside. I understand one day this young man will see through the looking glass from the other side.

I only hope he can appreciate what it took to get there.

 

Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is: that I may know how frail I am.”    –Psalm 39:4

 

transparent

I am no physicist, nor chemist.

Now that that’s out of the way, I love that water has skin.

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Its surface, unlike human skin, is easily penetrable. And it is transparent, usually. You can see beneath whether it is deep or if it’s shallow, whatever lurks in its depths.

Not so with people unless we decide to be transparent. Then we give from whatever it is beneath our surface. Behind the smile, is it joy or hiding something?

Water, you can tell. People you can’t always tell.

And gelatin has skin. Sort of. It’s viscous though… its skin is basically the same all the way to the bottom and sides of the bowl. And it’s transparent, but it has nothing but gelatin unless you put fruit or something in before it jelled. But if you touch it you leave an impression. And if you break the surface unlike water it stays that way.

With water you can look at the surface if it’s still, undisturbed and see your reflection, but not yourself. Sometimes with a person you can see your reflection in their eyes, and sometimes see yourself as well. You touch the surface of water and your hand comes away with part of its molecular structure. You touch a person, maybe a few cells get stuck but only if the connection is in a heart or in a mind in understanding, empathy you have a part of who they really are. And they you. Like with gelatin. An impression is made. Sometimes we may not like what we see. Sometimes we may misunderstand what we see. People change. Their thoughts, their hearts, their hopes.

And life changes people.

It’s just something you know

Sometimes.

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Connected

con·nect·ed  (kə-nĕk′tĭd) adj.

1. Joined or fastened together; 2. Mathematics: a. Not decomposable into two disjoint nonempty open sets. b. Having a continuous path between any two points. Used of a curve, set, or surface; 3. Related by family; 4. Logically or intelligibly ordered or presented; coherent: a stroke that left him incapable of connected speech; 5. Associated with or related to others, especially to influential or important people: a photographer who was well connected in the fashion world.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
 
So this definition from the Free Dictionary (aka American Heritage dictionary) says this word is an adjective. Which, by these definitions it is. But I am thinking of how it is used in the form of a noun. To be connected. Do you feel more connected with all the technology, telephonics, satellites?
 
I get this a lot, especially in surveys which I really enjoy (so long as they are about stuff I know). Am I connected? Do I feel more connected because of cell phones, Internet?
 
Well, yes and more, no.
 
I can talk to anybody anywhere whenever I want because of cell phones. I can go online and share information with people, most of whom I have never met, on a facebook/myspace/linkedin or some other page. Yes, I see there are people who think as I do, who are as passionate as I am about many things. But do I feel connected? No, not in the sense other than that we share this common interest. I have never looked in their actual eyes (except by avatar or thumbnail). I have never noticed the hint of a smile, shyly maybe at first then spreading as we discover a shared hope or wish or interest. I can’t see them cry or laugh other than that ridiculous “lol” which I never liked as an alternative to actually hearing someone laughing out loud. Anybody can say lol, but maybe they are too self-conscious to be able to actually roar out an lol. Maybe they are too proud to let somebody see them cry and I can’t see they are trying to hide their tears. Maybe they want to appear aloof and typed words have never, in my experience, been able to give any accurate indication of inflection or intonation or emphatic insistence. They are just words. Indifferent. They lie flat, two-dimensional, only their meanings are expressed by definition, not by how they sound.
 
No, I would not say this makes me feel more connected. If I did I’d be living in a vacuum.