There is no shortage of silence here, real, true, country silence, especially in winter.
Not long ago we were rambling down this road in the Rio Grande Wildlife area, a road that is accessed only on foot, horseback or bicycle except for BLM and Fish and Wildlife who manage the slough. It’s nice to have a wide trail for the sake of visibility and the composition of photos. 😉
We’d been there a month before, at the end of summer. Throughout the two moments, the Sandhill Cranes were passing through on their way to Bosque del Apache in New Mexico. In the silence of late October, their calls were everywhere. For me it’s part of the magical silence of the San Luis Valley.
Other bird sounds frame the winter silence. Right now it is the sudden flight of ducks, startled by the sound/sensation of my cane hitting the ground. They rise up by the dozens, flapping and calling. There are magpies and another small bird I don’t know, who chirrups and dives over the water.
The world we live in today is crazy. Some might argue it’s always been crazy. I can’t disagree. It has. But we are in a world of crazy that is … wait for it … unprecedented. Hell, we have been using more “un” words than ever these days.
But we’ve been ignoring a more important one lately.
I’ve been writing blogs since this unhinged, unreal, unfit and unbelievable excuse for a human being somehow got elected to the highest office in the land. I keep pointing out that he is, well, all of those “un” words. In other words, he’s un-sane! CRAZY! Suffering from dementia. Nuts. Looney Tunes.
Most people are beginning to realize this. Even so, we all still do a thing that we shouldn’t be doing. We try to rationalize what he does. This is because we are sane. We can’t help but try to explain what he does in some way that makes sense. To us. We — most especially media — try to not only make sense of what he says and does, but try to explain what he will do next by virtue of what he previously did.
Am I the only one who’s noticed that all of us — all of us — are ALWAYS WRONG? No matter what we think is going to happen next, it never does. He does something even stranger, more bizarre, more CRAZY. Or, if you wish to be grammatically accurate, CRAZIER!
There’s a reason for this. Sane people cannot “out-crazy” crazy people. That’s why they’re crazy and we’re not.
Believe me, I’ve tried. Following is an illustrative true story.
When I was a senior in high school I got a job at my local hospital as an orderly.
I was planning on being a doctor when I grew up, so it was a great job. We had a patient named Winslow. At least I’m pretty sure that was his name. Who knows, it was 50 years ago. Anyway, Winslow was in a car accident and suffered serious brain damage. He was in the hospital for almost a year. For the first few months he said nothing. Never talked. Sometimes he would point at the TV he watched all day and would say “Bear”.
I always found this amusing because there was never a bear on the screen. After a while he got a little better — and started talking all the time. By now, he was one of my patients. This meant I had to bathe him, dress him, and fix his bed everyday, so we talked a lot. I loved the guy. I loved our conversations because they were always … crazy.
ME: Winslow! How’re you doing?
WINSLOW: Not good.
ME: Why? What’s wrong?
ME: Wisconsin? What’s wrong with it?
WINSLOW: They’re moving it.
This is the point where I would try to ‘play the game’. I would try to guess what he was going to say. I would try to get inside his head.
ME: They’re moving Wisconsin? Wow, I sort of liked it where it was. In-between Michigan and Minnesota. Where are they moving it? To Canada?
At this point Winslow would look at me as if I was crazy.
WINSLOW: No, they’re moving it next to an airport.
Never would have come up with that one. So, one day, a few months later I came into Winslow’s room to do my thing and he was in a wheelchair. I said:
ME: Winslow! How ya doin’? Where are you going?
He looked at me solemnly and said:
WINSLOW: “Deep Therapy.”
Wow, that was new one to me. But I took up the challenge.
ME: Deep therapy? What’s that?
WINSLOW: They take your insides out.
ME: And then what do they do? Give you a new set?
He looked at me as if I’d completely lost my mind.
WINSLOW: No, they clean them and put them back.
At this point another orderly came in and took Winslow to …
A few months later he was discharged. By then he was pretty normal. I never saw or heard about him ever again. I hope he’s had a wonderful life. Of course, there’s a punchline to this story.
Fast forward one year.
I completed my freshman year of college and was back working at the hospital over summer break. I was no longer an orderly. I had been promoted to Emergency Room Technician. Honestly, I was still an orderly, but I had a much cooler title.
I was working the overnight shift one night and I was returning a gurney to the radiation department. Oddly, it was a place I had never been before. It was about 3 AM and all the lights were off, except for the emergency lighting. So, there I was, walking down a long, dark, empty corridor.
As I parked the gurney I notice a really big wooden door at the very end of the corridor. On it was a large brass sign that said …
I didn’t go toward the door. I didn’t open the door. I slowly backed up, turned around, and walked really fast until I was back in the ER.
So, my point is, we can’t predict what is going to happen next. We can’t predict Trump, or the Republicans. They’re all insane. Anything I can imagine could happen. But whatever does happen will probably be even weirder.
I think Pence is going to go down before Trump. I think Ryan and McConnell will be implicated in Russian conspiracies too. I think the Democrats will take control of Congress in 2018, impeach Trump, and Pence will have to resign.
Nancy Pelosi will become President of the United States.
Is that going to happen? No idea. But I do know this: Whatever will happen, it will be crazier than anything any of us can imagine.
Call me crazy? Sure, go ahead. It is crazy. But don’t tell me it couldn’t happen.
Israel is a funny country. A democracy and also, a theocracy. Family matters fall under religious courts, including marriage. To get married in Israel, you have to be Jewish, Christian, or Muslim. If you want a non-religious wedding, you have to go somewhere else. Another country. People of mixed faiths who want a neutrally religious ceremony have to leave the country to get hitched. The good news? An out-of-country marriage is honored in Israel. If you’ve made the contract, it’s legal, but a lot of people would prefer not having to go overseas to get married.
The guy I was marrying was a Jew. Not much of a Jew, but to be fair, I wasn’t much of a Jew either. Not religiously, anyway. I had done a lot of reading, so I understood what it was about. I was good with it. It was medieval, but as medieval stuff goes, it was a good kind of 14th century.
Since the destruction of the Temple (by the Romans, in case you were wondering), the Mikveh’s use is almost entirely for the purification of Jewish women and men, and as part of the tradition for converting to Judaism. And before you ask, yes, people convert to Judaism. Not only because they are marrying a Jew. Some people do it because they find Judaism a religiously logical structure. As I do, even though I don’t practice it.
The Mikveh is used to purify people and sometimes, things. Like a body for burial, utensils for use in a Kosher home. But mostly, it’s for people.
Most forms of impurity can be fixed by immersion in any natural collection of water, but some things require “living water.” That is to say, moving water, such as springs or groundwater wells. The Mikveh is designed to simplify the whole process by offering a bathing facility that is permanently ritually pure and in contact with a natural source of water.
Back in the old days — like a couple of thousand years ago older — rivers and lakes were the place to go. But that water was cold. There were no hair dryers. You couldn’t get your fingernails done after your ritual bath. What about those lovely warm towels? The modern Mikveh doesn’t merely purify. The water is skin temperature and very comfortable — and clean. You exit to heated towels. Hair dressers. Manicures. And, of course, there is food and you can bet it’s Kosher.
“I have to do what?” I asked.
My friend, who was religious and regularly went to a Mikveh, was patient. She told me she’d make sure I went to a good one, where they would treat me properly. By which she meant they wouldn’t question me very hard about my level of religiosity. Which was fortunate. I didn’t have much to say except that I quite liked the way Judaism believed winning God to your side was more about doing the right thing and a lot less about repentance. You could repent your ass off as a Jew, but if you weren’t kind to the poor, diligent in your prayers and all that stuff, God was not going to be impressed. You might not get to be part of the rising of the dead to …
Well, maybe heaven. Maybe … something else. Judaism doesn’t have anything at all to say about the afterlife. Believe whatever you choose. It’s not in The Book. I like that. It was sensible. Although I didn’t practice, I appreciated it. Also, she told me to not tell them I was getting married because they were a lot stricter when you were getting married.
Stricter? About what? I’d been married before, after all.
“No,” she explained. “It doesn’t count. You didn’t marry a Jew.”
It was dizzying. She also explained that you had to walk into the water and take a complete dip. Every single inch of you had to be under the water. Including the top of your head and if you missed, they’d make you do it again until you did it right. You had to do it right so they would stamp your official purity ticket. The one you had to show to the Rabbi to prove you were pure enough to get married.
In my lifetime, purity was not an issue. I’m pretty sure we abandoned purity sometime during the 1960s, right around the time when we smoked pot, but didn’t inhale. Oh, don’t be silly. Of course we inhaled.
Purity is not something you can ignore in Judaism. It’s a very big deal. Before I could get married, I had to be purified. Whether or not I’d ever do it again, I was going to do it at least this once. I was supposed to be peeved about this reversion to medievalism, but actually, I was intrigued. I’m a history buff. I like ancient rituals and this was an honest-to-God ancient ritual of which I would be a part.
Did I mention that you also have to be incredibly clean to be purified? Your fingernails and toenails have to be as clean as the day you were born.
I did it. I was confused, especially because they spoke only Hebrew and mine wasn’t good, which is an understatement. But I cleansed, dipped, and got my stamp of purity approval. I liked it. It felt good. I felt cleansed. I thought if I’d been in a different place …
I left the Mikveh wishing life was offering me other choices. But I was missing the point.
Life always offers you other choices. The hard part is seeing them and doing something about them. Recognizing options can be extremely complicated, but the choices are always there. Grab those choices before they get away.
But I didn’t see them. Time passed and life moved on.
What could be more abandoned than a Scottish Terrier facing the terror of getting clipped without someone to hold his paw? Poor Gibbs! He has been face-to-face with dreadful things during the year and a half he has been our furkid. He has had his ears treated! Oh, the horror!
We have cleaned his eyes, clipped his claws … and sent him to the groomers where they (OMG!) bathe him with soap! Clip his coat! Trim his eyebrows and beard! No explanation can alleviate his gloom.
This is why Gibbs always manages to look depressed. The expression “hangdog” was designed to describe Mr. Gibbs.
No matter how good he is, people are always doing stuff to him. He cannot help but take it personally. He is alone, one brave Scottie against the world.
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