REMEMBER HOW WE USED TO LIKE FASHION? – Marilyn Armstong

Remember when it mattered if your jeans really fit? Hey, remember makeup? Remember getting your hair styled? Remember when the days of the week meant something?

Remember when you didn’t start drinking until around sundown (slightly earlier on a holiday)?

Those days are gone forever. Now, there’s Quarantine Life where we wear the same clothing every day because what’s the point? Our pets are all over us anyway, so regardless, we are hairy and what IS that stuck to my shirt? Oh, right. Maple syrup. Maybe a hint of coffee or jam?

Definitely not neat and it’s sticky.

Life in quarantine

RED BELLIED WOODPECKER AND A FUCHSIA – Marilyn Armstrong

AS THE END OF MAY APPROACHES … 

I got some nice pictures of our favorite woodpecker enjoying dinner at the feeder. The birds seem to like being near the big plant. I think it makes them feel safe. It is much harder to shoot with the big plant in the way, so I’m going to have some practicing to do to get quality photographs.

Yesterday was the first time I shot using my iPhone. The pictures are admirably sharp and clear and it’s a definitely “better than nothing” camera that doesn’t require hauling a heavy camera and lenses.

For me, it isn’t a camera. It’s had to focus, it only shoots at 72 ppi and it’s really hard to keep your fingers out of the photo. Probably great for snapshooters, but the process of having to mail the shots to my PC then transferring them is a serious pain in the butt.

It’s good to have it and it has many other uses, but it isn’t going to be my favorite photographic device!

STUPIDITY REARS ITS UGLY HEAD – RICH PASCHALL

The View From Here, by Rich Paschall

Living Fearlessly

You have probably seen plenty of examples of this. There are those who need a haircut no matter what the risk. Some must have a party, no matter what stay at home orders have been issued. Others absolutely have to go to the beach, even if it is crowded. Those dying to get out and about don’t believe that they will be dying because they went out and about.

This week I saw two grade-school kids riding their bike down the street. They had no masks on. I did not recognize them as living nearby so perhaps they were just riding around the neighborhood. A day later I saw two different kids riding up and down the alley behind the house. They had masks but were not wearing them across their faces, just hooked around their ears and across their necks. They were probably told not to leave the house without them, so they didn’t. The two boys in the alley stopped to talk to an older girl. She did not have a mask on either. Recently I have been to two different convenience stores. As I went into one, a man was coming out sipping his coffee. He did not have a mask. A postal worker was buying a batch of Lotto tickets. She had no mask. As I was checking out, I mentioned to the checker that every single customer in that store did not have a mask. She and I were the only ones. A guy without a mask behind me in line got a piece of my mind. He did not say anything but he did back up a few steps. At another convenience store two young guys behind the counter were not wearing masks or gloves. I walked out.

I have seen the same sort of thing at the supermarket and the pharmacy. I tried to go to them in the first hour on a Tuesday or Thursday when it is Seniors only. Despite the signs on the doors, people enter who are not wearing masks. Some are not even Seniors.

You may have seen on the news, if you have the stomach to watch the news these days, that there are plenty of people out protesting for their right to congregate any way they wish. They even intimidate lawmakers by showing up at the state capital with automatic weapons. Many do not seem to think that any of their fellow protestors might have the coronavirus.

On our local Chicago news, we saw that business in neighboring Wisconsin had reopened. Despite bars and restaurants being encouraged to maintain social distancing, scenes from a crowded bar were broadcast. One of the people interviewed was a nurse from down here in hard-hit Cook County, Illinois. She has seen plenty of COVID-19 patients. Now she’s sorry she was interviewed at a bar.

Instant Karma

Instant Karma’s gonna get you
Gonna knock you right on the head
You better get yourself together
Pretty soon you’re gonna be dead – John Lennon.

Perhaps you heard of the Virginia pastor who vowed to keep his church open unless he was in jail or in the hospital. He’s in the cemetery. He preached to a crowded church on March 22 and died on Easter of the virus. Parishioners and preachers have died of the virus because they thought they would be safe in a crowded church. An elderly priest died in Texas recently, but they seemed to dismiss this because he was old anyway. Some of his parishioners tested positive.

A Texas mom of two boys who declared the virus a “media hoax” died from it. So did an evangelical pastor who went to Mardi Gras. There are plenty of such cases. Some who contracted it have recovered after attending Mardi Gras, or a crowded party. Some didn’t.

Survivors of near-death experiences think we are moving too quickly to reopen businesses. “People don’t really understand how serious this is until they know somebody who’s going through it,” one survivor’s girlfriend claimed. I have seen enough of this type of interview on the news. In general, the survivor is very sorry for attending____________ (insert crowded event here).

In red counties that had strongly supported Trump, and have pushed to reopen businesses, the virus is on the rise. Four days after the Republican governor of Maryland started opening up businesses in the state, they had the largest number of positive tests for one day so far. Coincidence or karma?

Living In Fear

The sort of thing you see above in “Living Fearlessly” are the reasons that so many of us who are older or have suppressed immune systems live in fear. We can not count on going to the store and have all the patrons follow the rules. Some of us qualify to go to the store during the Senior hour, but that means nothing if the store is afraid to enforce the rules. I shop at stores that have large signs posted to wear masks, and certain hours are Seniors only, but it doesn’t matter.  If people are so willing to violate these rules about the store, we can probably guess that they are willing to break other rules too. Do we want to be in the store with them?

The lieutenant governor of Texas may believe that Seniors are willing to lay down their lives for the economy, but I have news for him. He can go out and take risks, but we don’t feel that way. We want to be around long enough to vote that sort of politician out of the political office or keep them from getting in.

I live in a two-flat house. My much younger neighbor upstairs had been very careful, wearing a mask and gloves to the stores. He was always cleaning and sanitizing. He gave me a special mask around Christmas time that not only covers nose and mouth but ears too. We had some bad winters in the past. I use it a lot now.

He has contracted the virus. He’s had girlfriends over to spend the night. There is more than one, I think. He probably trusted they were just as safe as he was otherwise. He was obviously wrong. Now he is sick. We have a common front hall and front door, common basement area with a common washer and dryer. We could touch a lot of the same surfaces in a day. He is not intentionally trying to kill off his older neighbors. Sometimes people just don’t think about it until it is too late.

Instant Karma Sources: “VIRGINIA PASTOR DIES FROM COVID-19… 3 Weeks After Holding Packed Service,” TMZ, tmz.com April 13, 2020.
Parishioner of Louisiana Church That Defied Virus Lockdown Dies From COVID-19, But Pastor Claims It’s a Lie,” by Rachel Olding, Daily Best, thedailybeast.com April 17, 2020.
Texas church cancels masses following the death of priest possibly from coronavirus,” by Meredith Deliso, ABC News, abcnews.go.com May 18, 2020.
Family Of COVID-19 Victim Who Criticized ‘Hysteria’ Around Virus Faces Online Attacks,” by Kelly McEvers, WBEZ 91.5, npr.com May 15, 2020.
Texas woman claimed COVID-19 is a media hoax & can be stopped by “faith.” Days later she died.” by Bil Browning, LGBTQNation, lgbtqnation.com April 7, 2020.
After enduring ventilators, body aches, fever, coronavirus survivors say states shouldn’t be reopening.” by Rick Jervis and Kameel Stanley, USA Today, usatoday.com May 18, 2020.
COVID-19 continues spreading into counties with strong Trump support,” by William H. Frey, Brookings, brookings.edu May 20, 2020.
Maryland Reports Largest Rise Yet In Coronavirus Cases 4 Days After Reopening,” by Bill Chappell, WBEZ 91.5, npr.com May 19, 2020.
See also: “Absolutely No Absolute Rights,” SERENDIPITY, teepee12.com April 8, 2020.

THE PROMISE OF LOVE – Rich Paschall

The Reality, by Rich Paschall

When George made his visit to South America to meet the handsome young man,  Jon noticed their large age difference. He decided it did not matter if George would help him.  After all, this could be a way out of his situation in the poor suburb of the large South American city. So late each night he would steal the WiFi signal from a neighbor in the apartment next door and talk with George. This way he kept him close to his heart.

South American city

Jon was tired of being poor. He was sad he could not buy nice clothes and jewelry.  He was unhappy with his dismal living conditions. He was heartbroken he could not help his mother with her expenses.  He just wanted to get out.

Since his time in an acrobatic troupe did not result in much money, Jon took one job, then another.  Nothing satisfied him as he always worked long hours for little money.  He could not spend much time at the gym.  He could not enjoy the nightlife of the nearby city.

“Help me, George,” Jon pleaded one night.  “I want to keep going to the gym.  I want to have enough food to eat.  Please send me a little money.”  Jon’s stories may have been a bit of an exaggeration, but he was certainly very poor.  He was determined to tell George whatever seemed to convince him to send some money.

“OK, Jon.  I will send you something on payday.  Do not worry.” The periodic investment in the handsome Hispanic man seemed to bind them together, as least George thought so.

Jon also thought they were bound together, not just by a few US Dollars, but also by his constant declarations of friendship and love.

When a few months had passed since George’s impulsive visit, Jon wondered if the time was right to push his plan further along.  One warm night, Jon stood on the roof of his building and looked down on the poor buildings below, with their cheap block constructions, and old metal roofs.  It was a depressing sight.

poor suburb

The bright lights of the city in the distance were a reminder he had not achieved his goal.  He could wait no longer. This was the night for action. He called George.

“We should get married, George,” Jon declared with confidence.

“What?” George said in a surprised voice that shook Jon a little.

“You should come here to marry me and we can live together in America.”  Jon waited for a reply, but there was nothing for a long minute.  Then George said Jon only wanted a way to come to America.  He did not actually want George.

The response upset Jon.  As he lay in bed in his tiny apartment, he decided he must not lose George now, after all the time he invested.  So he spent weeks declaring his love and asking for marriage without success.  George said he had no other boyfriend, so Jon did not understand why they could not be married.

When Jon felt the situation lasted too long he said to George, “You must tell me if we are boyfriends or no.  If you will not marry me, I must find another boyfriend.”

The conversation that followed last a long time, and after Jon insisted over and over he would be a good roommate and stay “as long as God wills,” George finally agreed.

Jon immediately researched what they needed to do to get married.  George gathered the documents Jon requested and sent them by express.  The papers were filed and the waiting game began.  Almost the entire summer went by before Jon got the marriage license.

George came as promised. The wedding was held with only one friend of Jon’s in attendance to take pictures, and a translator for George to know what was happening.  When the ceremony was done, George, Jon and his friend Vanessa all went into the city to celebrate.  After just two married nights together, George was gone.

return to the airport

The long process of getting a visa began.  Jon could not believe the complexity of the procedure or the number of documents he had to send to George.

“I have to get certified translations into English, Jon.  Then I will submit all.  You must be patient.”  It was hard to be patient, but George sent a little money every month and Jon could buy the food he wanted.

When the process had gone from Immigration to the State Department, to the American embassy in Jon’s country, the nervous young man met with his good friend, Vanessa.

Jon told her everything that had transpired and they seemed to be getting near a decision.

“And you will leave here to go to this strange place you have told to me?” Vanessa said.

“Yes, of course,” Jon said.  He could see the disappointment in Vanessa’s eyes.  He could not tell if this was because he might leave his close friend or because he would leave his country for a foreign land.

“Are you crazy?  You are with him only a few days and for that, you would leave us?” she asked.

“But we are working on this for a year now.  It will be my chance for a better life,” Jon said, but Vanessa replied with a look of doubt. After a short silence, she asked the important question.

“Do you think you will stay with this gringo once you get to America and meet other people?”

Jon’s eyes narrowed as he gave the matter serious thought.  He placed his right hand over his mouth and rubbed the left side of his face with his fingertips.  After almost a minute, he removed the hand from his face, smiled a little, and said, “No.  Of course not.”

Then Vanessa laughed, but only a little.

Next week: The conclusion.
Previously, in order:
I LOVE YOU (No, You Don’t)
A SOUTH AMERICAN LOVE, A Romantic Player
A SOUTH AMERICAN PROPOSAL, The Deal

ABSOLUTELY NO ABSOLUTE RIGHTS

Funny isn’t it? What was current six weeks ago is current now.

Serendipity Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

Stay at Home, Save Lives, by Rich Paschall

While we accept the precept of “freedom of speech,” we also understand that it does not apply to everything in all situations. As you probably have heard often, we are not allowed to shout “Fire” in a crowded theater when there is none. This could cause a stampede for the exits and put some people at risk of being hurt or killed in the panic.

Similarly, you can not shout out in a crowd that you see a gun when there is none. Due to the types of mass shootings we have seen in recent years, we know that there could be a panic that could cause harm.

Image: Mashable.com

You are also forbidden to engage in the type of speech that would incite a riot. Hate speech in gatherings could, in turn, result in attacks either at a rally, let say…

View original post 789 more words

THE GRAND DUKE – Marilyn Armstrong

DUKE OF OUR ACRES


We got him by accident. We kept him because he needed a home. We thought eventually, he’d calm down. He calmed down. He has mostly stopped jumping fences. Mostly. He isn’t mellow exactly, but he is among the friendliest dogs I’ve ever known.

He’s loving and sweet and protective. He tries very hard to be fierce, but no one is ever afraid of him. He will keep trying, though.

Resting … however briefly

What’s going on out there!

Portrait of the beast

“I think I smell a squirrel”

Guarding on the sofa!

His eyes watch me. I might go to the kitchen!

He has a great face and melting eyes.

In bed with Garry

MORE PICTURES OF BONNIE – OUR SMALL BLACK SCOTTISH TERRIER – Marilyn Armstrong

Scotties can live a long time, though most pass some time between 12 and 16 years old. We lost Gibbs at the beginning of February, quietly, in his sleep on the sofa. Now, Bonnie is on her way to that land of rainbows.

Usually, dogs develop an illness you know about. You can’t always make it better, but you can often control symptoms for a while. Often before a disease takes them down, arthritis makes them so miserable there’s little reason to keep a dog in obvious pain alive because you’re too selfish to let them go. We have learned the hard way over many years of having pets who we didn’t let go because we couldn’t make a decision — is wrong.

Bonnie has been failing a little at a time for a long time. Her eyes have been bad for much of her life, but even with a lot of attention, they are worse now. I do not know how much she can see.

She is almost entirely deaf. If you shout in her ear, she hears a bit and certain treble notes seem to reach her. But our voices aren’t there for her and it’s surprisingly difficult to manage a once-hearing dog who no longer can.

She has developed canine dementia. She has good days … or more to the point … she has good hours or minutes. The rest of the time, she’s agitated and barks continuously until she is exhausted and so are we. I doubt she knows why she is barking.

She also isn’t the same dog we’ve known and loved. Garry feels like he is reliving the last years of his mother’s life, but this time, it’s his Scottie and the conversation is limited.

She isn’t friendly and doesn’t want to be petted. She has about two minutes of tolerating being close to one of us. She isn’t hostile, but a lot of the time, I don’t think she is sure who we are or, for that matter, who she is. She knows the house, though. Even with limited sight and hearing, she can find her way around. And she can manage the stairs.

Bonnie Annie Laurie

Her teeth went from fine a year and a half ago to appalling now. Assuming we could manage to find the nearly $1000 dollars it would cost to have most of them removed, that wouldn’t fix the rest of her. Her eyes won’t come back or her hearing. And her furry little brain isn’t going to uncloud.

It’s time to let her go.

The all-night barking is not doing much for Garry and my relationship either. We get very little sleep and we are tired and snappish a lot of the time. Three or four hours of sleep isn’t enough.

It’s hard to keep her in bed with us. Also, she is old enough that a jump from our rather high bed would likely break or tear something. The Duke will jump up and settle down, but Bonnie sleeps for only a few hours, then has to go out. Now she seems to be having trouble catching her breath. I don’t know what it means, but it isn’t good.

We finally decided that there’s not much for her or us to get from this relationship. She is so stressed and confused and this is causing us to stress, too. We aren’t spring chickens either.

It is hard to imagine life without her. She has been with us since she was 9-weeks old. She has been a wonderful dog. Funny, quirky, and full of fun. Last night, I took pictures. She still looks pretty good, though she has put on a lot of weight recently, maybe because she doesn’t do much anymore.

Sometime during the next week, she will be gone. It really is hard to imagine life without her. I still haven’t entirely become used to Gibbs being gone, and now, apparently, it’s time for another one to leave us.