I have been a-wandering in a strange, alternative universe called Facebook. It’s a place where anyone’s opinion is as good as anyone else’s.

At some point yesterday evening I stumbled into a heated interchange that started with the potential candidacy of idiot doctor Ben Carson and roamed far afield.

Flag on the harbor

confederate flag

At some point, someone averred: “In this country majority rules, so if most of the people in a state want to fly the Confederate flag, they can. It’s IN THE CONSTITUTION.”  Along the way, someone else suggested the losers of a war don’t get to fly their flag. The south lost the war (a point often overlooked in such discussions) and they should get over it. 

I asked if the majority in a state favored slavery, would that be okay too? Most of the combatants in this discussion said yes, which proved my fundamental point. That I was interfacing with morons.

No, it isn’t in the Constitution. There’s nothing at all about flags in the Constitution. Not a word. Nothing guaranteeing rights pertaining to flags. As far as the other stuff goes, the Constitution is not designed to protect the rights of the majority. Quite the opposite. Its intent is to protect the rights of minorities because otherwise, you have tyranny.

Sorry. I digressed.

This brought a flurry of rebuttals and name-calling, brought to a head when someone offered a golden nugget.

“The Confederate flag was a battle flag and had nothing to do with slavery. In fact, the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery. It was about taxes.”

Although I know arguing with idiots is a waste of perfectly good time I could productively use playing mindless games, I had to say something. There is so much historical evidence proving that the Civil War was about slavery and nothing but slavery.

United States Slave Trade

United States Slave Trade

The Civil War was predestined and the framers of the Constitution knew it. Our founding fathers made a deal with the devil to allow slavery. If they had not, there would never have been a United States. The Constitution would not have passed, might very well never have been written.

Slavery was the burning issue during the constitutional convention in 1788 and it tore the country apart a mere two generations later. They knew it would. The guys who wrote the Constitution may have wimped out, but they knew it wasn’t a real solution, just a band-aid. They also knew the issue would come to war and blood and death. It was that kind of issue.

To declare otherwise is plain ignorant. There are lots of aspects of history that are disputable, but this isn’t one of them. There is too much evidence in the form of diaries and writings — not to mention correspondence between famous guys like Jefferson, Adams, and Washington.

Sometimes, I think Americans must be the happiest people on earth, because we are surely the most ignorant. (And we know ignorance is bliss, right?)


My statement was quickly swallowed by passionate southerners declaring I was an out-of-control left-wing lying Yankee liberal socialist commie. I retreated to a stupid pop-the-bubble game and the battle went on without me.

Why do I bother?


Of all the skills I never acquired, the ability to cut through the dreaded recorded message: “The staff are currently assisting other customers. Please hold on. We appreciate you patience,” is a major failure.

telephone hold

I would have more patience if I weren’t trying to reach my doctor’s office. Because I’m not feeling well. I figure I shouldn’t need an hour plus who-know-how-long to get a live person on the telephone.

waiting for

Then there’s the muzak. I know offices buy special music so they can leave their customers — in this case patients — on hold indefinitely. They count on the music to soothe the savage beast slowly boiling over at the other end of the line.

To me, it’s closer to fingernails on a blackboard. Each unmemorable phrase makes my blood pressure rise.

Customer Service waitingWhy am I calling? Because my doctor is an arrogant prick and I need a different doctor. ANY different doctor. I’m not that picky. I just want a doctor — or nurse practitioner — who won’t blow off my medical issues because he has decided — without reading my medical history — that I’m just an old, hypochondriac looking for drugs and attention.

This is a stunning leap of logic.

What gave him the clue that I’m nothing more than a crank?

Was it the bi-lateral mastectomy? The heart valve replacement or the implanted pacemaker? The emergency bariatric surgery? The spinal redesign and subsequent massive arthritic takeover? Does he think such procedures are performed to satisfy the morbid neuroses of one demented old bat?

Whatever his reasoning, it has to end. My trip to the oncologist a few days ago (he is one of the good ones), revealed I’m now seriously anemic. Been here before, but I’m back and shouldn’t be. Simple monitoring of blood vitamin levels and appropriate vitamins could easily have prevented this.

I haven’t been able to get this guy to even acknowledge there is anything to monitor, so I’ve been trying to figure out what I need to take to fix the problem. From information I found on the Internet.

insane doctor cartoon

Suddenly, in a blaze of clarity last night, I realized I have no way to know how much B-12 I need. I used to get monthly injections and I shouldn’t be self-medicating while my hair falls out and my skin dries up and tries to leave home without me.

It’s 10:29am and I’m still on hold. I have been on hold — off and on because I’ve called back several times — since 9am. I can tell by the clock on the computer.


I wonder which will run out first? The battery in my telephone or my patience?

Garry says I can’t give up, that this asshole is going to kill me.

The good news? It’s pouring outside. Finally, the rain has arrived. It was late, but this morning, when I got up, it was raining and since then, it has gone from raining moderately to a blinding downpour.

I sit here. Listen to soothing music and the recurring “The staff are currently assisting other customers. Please hold on. We appreciate you patience.” I think how all this water will seep into the aquifer. The well will fill with fresh water. I will be able to take a shower without fearing it’s my last.

There must be some magic formula that gets a person through the wall of electronic non-answering. I need to learn this skill. Soon. Today would be a good time. Before I got completely postal and rip out someone’s throat with what are left of my teeth.

I don’t believe for a single moment that they really appreciate my patience. But I’m such a cynic.


30 SEPTEMBER 2015: Loose change with flowers

It’s Frisbee Wednesday again and it is the last day of September. It is supposed to rain today and I would feel better about that if the sun weren’t peeking out while the clouds disperse to expose patches of lovely pale blue.

amazon payment Sep 2015-redacted

These are the moments that make authorship so satisfying. To put this in perspective, I got double the royalties this month over last time I sold something (January).

I believe we might order something from MacDonald’s dollar menu this afternoon assuming the creek don’t rise.

72-Aldrich Creek_015

Which is looking unlikely as the sun just came out, and the sky is bright blue. A light wind dispelled the promising cloud cover from a couple of hours ago. There will be no rain today.

The leaves should be changing, but are refusing to take this whole Autumn business seriously.

Finding myself at loose ends — which is to say, not venturing out to shoot glorious fall foliage — I defaulted to shooting macros of a lovely bouquet.



Macro lenses work best when there is plenty of light to create contrast. However, reality bites, especially indoors. Available light is not always up to snuff which makes it difficult to convince the lens to focus.


Difficult. Not impossible. The results are interesting with irregular (unpredictable) areas of focus. Lots of bokeh.


It’s a challenge to sharpen specific areas without losing the soft background. To correct one color without changing others.


They offer great subjects for creative post-processing.


I took these shots with an eye toward using them with effects. These include color contrast filtering, textures, plus detail and edge enhancement.


Should you decide to accept this “challenge,” you may use any picture I’ve ever published — and there are thousands of them — or one of your own. Write something about the picture or make something up using a picture as your jumping off point.


This is the easiest prompt in the world. Happy Autumn and may you get some rain, even if we don’t.


I love my husband and he loves me. (Music up full.) Do I think he is the only man in the entire world to whom I could have been happily wed?


Do I think that for everyone, there’s just one person who is the morning and evening star? And if you don’t meet him/her, your life will be forever loveless?


25th Anniversary Portrait

25th Anniversary Portrait

Do I think that movies and literature are full of this kind of nonsense? Do I think a lot of teenagers believe it because it is the stuff of poetry and romance novels?


I believe in love. I am happy with my man and my marriage. I also believe that if we march into our lives assuming there is but one human being anywhere on earth who could ever be “right” for us, we are off on a narrow and precarious path. Perhaps taking a slightly broader view of our future would be better.

Just saying.


I’m afraid of falling down and breaking a hip. I’m afraid the battery in my pacemaker will run out of juice and my heart will stop beating.

I’m afraid of airport security with big machines who won’t pay attention and will kill me. But failing? I think I’ve done all the failing I’m going to do this lifetime.


I count on younger generations to handle all additional failures. I’ve exceeded my personal failure quota. I am, however, seriously involved in hanging on through the next commercial cluster of life to see what happens next. I would like to do that while remaining comfortably housed, roofed, and fed. I intend to do my utmost to keep my better half healthy too, while maintaining the handful of relationships that matter to me.

I’m not afraid of failing them, just of losing them. Attrition gets personal after a certain point in life.

I have four implanted replacement parts in this not-all-that-old body. Each one has its own serial number. I stand in absolutely no danger of ever being a “Jane Doe” on some medical examiner’s slab. I figure the parts that can fail, have already failed. The next failure will be my official sign off.

Marilyn with shawl

You are free to worry about failing in love, marriage, job performance, parenting, or any other goal-driven activity to which you are committed. You may be deeply involved in making your next novel a best-seller, quaking with fear that this success or lack thereof will define you.

I’m here to tell you that no matter what happens, your failure — or success — won’t, didn’t, doesn’t define you. Unless you want it to.

You aren’t your achievements, your failures, your fears, your disasters. You aren’t even those nasty messes you leave behind. Or your illnesses and/or disabilities. You are something else. Someone else. You have a soul.

With a variety of replaceable parts.



What do you do to make a living or during the day if you are retired. If you are a student what are you studying?


I’m a lounge lizard. Okay, not a lounge lizard because (a) I don’t lounge and (b) my dry skin isn’t that bad. Yet.

As a retiree, many choices are available to me, as long as they don’t cost money. I take pictures. I write this blog. I listen to audiobooks and occasionally, read a regular book. I read other peoples’ blogs and make comments, to the degree that I have time to do that.


In the company of my better half, I watch reruns of favorite movies and TV shows. I do commentary, he ignores me.

We watch documentaries; I correct the history.

We play with the dogs. We clean while fully realizing the futility of it. We shop for groceries and chat with people at the local supermarket.


I spend an inordinate amount of time on the phone with customer disservice personnel. I “lend” (grant-in-aid) money to my granddaughter. It’s an occupational hazard.

I try to keep ahead of the dirt and I fail. I try to keep on top of the money. I fail at that too. I laugh whenever there’s anything remotely funny and Garry and I count clichés as we watch TV.

That’s life in the slow lane.

Have you ever participated in a distance walking, swimming, running, or biking event? Tell your story.

No. But Garry photographed one this summer. Does that count?


What is usually your first thought when you wake up?

How much do I hurt? Can I move?

Complete this sentence: Look out behind you, it’s a …

zombie. Or a bill collector. Probably a right-wing Republican zombie bill collector.